I woke up with an odd sense of pleasured remorse. A year ago, on this day I'd been celebrating at home with my father and my aunt, even a few friends. There had been cake, candles, dancing, music, laughter, love. I'd received gifts of clothes, albums, films and crafts that I'd all been thankful for. I'd had a small party at home, with a few silly games and a few embarrassing dances. And I'd stayed up late, wanting to make the day last as long as possible. It had been the perfect birthday.
A year on, and I was sharing a hotel room with my crush, who didn't know that 18 years ago, I had been born. I was officially a legal adult, and no longer a run-away teenager. I was now the same age as Daz. I got out of bed to shower, when he caught my arm, I turned around, surprised.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Happy Birthday." He smiled. A huge grin grew on my face.
"How did you know?" I asked.
"When we were fighting in the woods, you blurted out your birthday was August 4th." He explained, I blushed, I'd forgotten I'd had a little out-burst of personal information.
"You remembered?" I felt flattered.
"I never forget anything you say." This made my cheeks go a dark shade of red. I went to shower and dress, humming to myself as I did.
When I got out of the bathroom Daz was in front of the door, with a small, wrapped box.
"You got me a present?" I asked.
"Of course." He handed me the box. I gave a small squeal of excitement, then covered my lips, embarrassed. I opened the box to find a silver necklace with an infinity charm on it. It was beautiful, the charm even had small crystals in the side.
"May I?" Daz asked. I nodded, unable to speak. He attached it around my neck.
"You see this charm? It means infinity, because that's how long I want you to wear it. And look, if you turn it portrait, it looks a bit like an eight, and since today you turn eighteen..." He trailed off. My heart felt weightless at this romantic gesture.
"So" I said, turning around to look him in the eye, "where are we going today?"
"A very special place." He teased, I felt a twang of annoyance at his secrecy, but a warm happy feeling radiated my body. So he lead me out the hotel room, to my surprise venue.
We walked for about an hour, through the woods, along paths, I was beginning to get tired. Then we left the woods, and entered my mystery place. I was surprised and slightly concerned when I saw where we were. A graveyard.
"Why are we here?" I asked him.
"It's where your present is." He told me, leading me through the graves. The graveyard was a nice one, the graves were spaced out, not cramped in, a lot of them had fresh flowers lying on their soil. We stopped by a fairly new grave. Daz knelt down and stared at the headstone. I looked at the name it read;
In loving memory of Jessica Oakley,
Mother, Wife and Teacher,
2nd May 1968- August 4th 2011,
May she rest in peace.
"Who's grave is it?" I asked Daz, though I already knew the answer.
"My mothers." Daz confirmed.
"It says she died on the 4th of August, that's today, that's my birthday." I was feeling a little sick in the stomach, 3 years ago I'd been celebrating my 15th birthday whilst Daz lost his mother.
"I was surprised when I found out, of all the days... such a coincidence." He trailed off.
"Why did you bring me here?" I asked, "you said my present was here, is this it?"
"No. Your present is a piece of truth about my past, something to help that burning curiosity of yours." He replied, turning around to face me.
"Go on." I urged.
"After my mother died, life fell apart. Desmond couldn't recover, he got depressed, he blocked out the world, told himself that the only way to avoid hurt from others is to experience it from yourself every day of your life. He left dad, he ran away. I haven't been able to find Desmond since he left home, like an endless quest of false hope to find him, and return to dad, as a family." Daz explained, I didn't know what to say. Should I apologies? For what? Should I change the subject? Would that be disrespectful? Instead, I leaned in and hugged him, then I figured out what to say.
"Thank you." I whispered in his ear.
"For what?" He whispered back.
"It was a beautiful present. The necklace and the story." I answered. I hugged him tight, not letting go. This birthday had made me joyous, breath-taken and remorseful. It had been the most perfect imperfect birthday ever. I had never been more moved, I felt like this was what I wanted my adulthood to be filled with, Daz, and his crazy past, and crazier future.