Birthday Story

Age is just a number, but she preferred it to be a low number, so at 50 she reversed direction. She started counting backwards. Today she would be 45 again.

She enjoyed life as she lived it, but was disappointed when she stopped to evaluate things—which is something she did on birthdays. Could I have done better? Did I miss something? If only I’d done this instead of that.

Her absentminded husband adored her, but he forgot things. Dana made the arrangements for her own birthday. Dan would come along. That would have to do.

She stared out the window. It was sunny, slightly warm, and calm outside. Quiet. Too quiet? Yeah, she could use some excitement. On the other hand, she didn’t want it too noisy and crazy.

She wanted it nice. And right now it was too dull. Dan poured her some coffee. It was good coffee but not as good as the coffee in Vienna. But better—much better—than that coffee with chicory on that vacation…somewhere.

“Jam on your toast?” Dan offered. It was good jam. But she wished it was apple butter. She was in the mood for apple butter. Still, it was nice of Dan to offer. She stayed with the European butter. The jam would have just reminded her of the apple butter she would not be having this morning.

Why weren’t there flowers? This is her birthday. There should be flowers on the table. Oh, well. That Dan.

After breakfast they went for a walk by the river. Dan held Dana’s hand. “Look at that!” she said. A bunch of colorful balloons were floating above the water. Red, yellow, purple, green, blue.

“Where did they come from, Dan? Are they weather balloons? Or from a wedding? Or did a child let them go when she reached for an ice cream cone.”

“Let’s just watch,” said Dan.

And they watched silently as the balloons rose higher and higher and soon disappeared.