A BIRTHDAY QUARTET

FOR VINCENT

by Linda S Barth

The Past

The ballerina swayed in the candlelit chamber, her thoughts for once unconsumed by her own dreams and wishes.

‘Vincent’s turning thirteen. I need to find an amazing gift.’

Possessions were scarce Below, certainly nothing right for her best friend’s special day.

‘I know! I’ll dance to his favorite music – the Chopin nocturne!’

Her eyes gleamed with satisfaction. She felt a sudden, familiar fluttering. ‘Or maybe a kiss…my first.’

No!

She could not surrender her dreams. She would offer a dance but not her heart. It would have to be enough.

“Happy birthday, Vincent,” she whispered as she whirled away.

 

The Present

In the Arizona desert, Devin gazes at constellations in a star-drenched sky. Cygnus, Cepheus, Draco. Only a new moon tonight, unlike another long-ago January 12 when he’d given his brother a phenomenal gift – his first look at the luminous wonder of a full moon.

Its brilliance had glittered on the new-fallen snow in the park and bathed the upturned face and gleaming blue eyes of the awestruck little boy.

Something so ordinary, almost meaningless, had been a miraculous gift for one small child whose life was confined to candlelit gloom.

If only…

Devin blinks back tears.

“Happy birthday, little brother.”

 

The Near Future

Father places a velvet-covered box in Vincent’s outstretched hand. “I know it’s only the 11th, but I wanted you to have this tonight…before you go Above to see Catherine.”

“Thank you, Father, but are you sure? Can it wait until tomorrow?”

Father shakes his head. “No, it can’t. I’ve given this much thought, and I’ve kept it from you far too long.”

Vincent unfastens the ornate clasp and opens the box.

A delicate ring glistens in the candlelight.

“It was Margaret’s” Father’s smile is bittersweet. “Don’t let me force you into becoming the fool that I once was.”

“Happy birthday, Vincent.”

 

The Slightly Distant Future

The rhythmic clicking of the knitting needles falls silent. The woman rises from her rocking chair and, with a gentle self-effacing smile, admires her handiwork, a lovely design of rosebuds, ruffles, and ribbons crafted from the softest wool.

“Just think,” she murmurs, carefully folding the pale pink blanket, “their first baby, and she’s due in only two days’ time. How perfect!”

Mary’s thoughts drift to a long-ago January twelfth when their world received another precious newborn, a special child who would change their lives forever.

“A new life,” she says softly, “there can be no greater gift.”

“Happy birthday, Vincent.”

 

10 Comments

  1. Oh Linda, this is so, so SWEET! Four unique birthday wishes for Vincent from four people who played such significant roles in his life. You make them so vivid for us.

    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely story!

    HUGS,

    Karen/Lindariel

    Reply
    • Ooh I love this a new life there can be no greater gift. Well a great gift like this tale thank you for this story

      Reply
      • You are very welcome, PearlAnn, and thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it!
        Linda

        Reply
    • Karen, thank you so much for your lovely and very much appreciated comments!
      Linda

      Reply
  2. Ah so lovely to read. Vincent is sooo special in my world, he’s very real.
    Beautiful to read very Vincent. Love it

    Reply
    • Karen G, thank you very much for your feedback and for enjoying this set of very short stories. To know that you find them to be very much in keeping with who our beloved Vincent is, means so much to me.
      Linda

      Reply
  3. You have so beautifully presented the wishes for our special man from people important to him. Each one is significant and touching. I was moved by the near future with the surprising gift from Father and the farther future with Mary and the handmade gift for Little Miracle…Thank you!

    Reply
    • Paula, I’m so glad you enjoyed them! I’ve been hanging on to these four drabbles for a couple of years, so I was happy to give them a new home in Tunnel Tales. Maybe one or two will become full-length stories someday.

      Reply
  4. Awww, that one was sweet.

    Happy “Birth” day, indeed. ❤️

    Thanks for posting this, Linda!

    Reply
    • Thank you for enjoying them, Karen!

      Reply

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WATER FUN

by AM

“Local temperature is 89 degrees with a heat index of 102. Stay inside if you can. Drink plenty of water and remember, don’t overdo it. It’s a scorcher out there today, folks”.

Catherine cursed the weatherman as she wiped the sweat off her forehead.  “Great. What a perfect time for the air to go out.”

The thought of going outside made her cringe. It was Sunday, so her office would be locked.

“I need to get out of this heat. I’ve got it!” Catherine giggled as she had a wonderful idea.

She went through recycling looking for something she could use.

“Nothing,” she said, frustrated.

She hurriedly changed into a comfortable t-shirt and jeans and hurried to the nearest store. She would’ve run if it hadn’t been so hot.

She sighed with relief when she stepped foot into the cool store.

She picked up some water guns.

No, too violent, and would be frowned upon, she thought as she put the guns down.

She went searching for safer things.

Balloons? No, leaves a mess to clean up.

Her eyes lit up when she saw them. “Spray bottles!!! Perfect!! Hmmm. There’s 50. That should be plenty.”

She grabbed up all the bottles and headed to pay.

It seemed like forever before she headed back to her apartment with her treasures. Instead of going directly to her apartment, she headed to the tunnels. It wasn’t long before she ran into Eric.

“What’s in the bags?” he asked

“It’s a surprise, and I need you to do me a favor. Could you gather all the kids and bring them here?”

“Okay.”

“Oh, and Eric?”

Eric turned to look at her.

“Bring as many buckets of water as you can.” She winked at him.

He returned in record time with all the tunnel kids, each carrying two buckets full of water. Catherine passed out the spray bottles and helped fill them up. Once all the bottles were filled, boundary lines were drawn, and safe places declared, they were ready.

“On your mark, get set, GO!” Catherine yelled.

The fight began in full force. Laughter, shrieks, and happy screams echoed through the tunnels as the children chased and sprayed each other. Catherine found herself in the crossfire several times, but laughed as hard as the children. When bottles emptied they were quickly refilled, and the fun continued. Soon adults came to find out where the happy noises were coming from. Some smiled, shook their heads and went back to their previous activity. Some helped by refilling empty buckets. Others just couldn’t help joining in the fun. Catherine noticed Vincent walking towards them.

“I need to borrow that,” she said to Kipper.

He smiled and handed her his full bottle. She placed the bottle behind her back, walked calmly up to Vincent, and sprayed him in the face.

His look of shock made Catherine laugh. Vincent calmly watched the children play for a few minutes before casually picking up a bucket that was a quarter full. He turned to Catherine.

“Vincent, you wouldn’t dare.”

“Perhaps, but then how would I return the favor?”

With that, he dumped the bucket over her head. The children erupted with laughter to see Catherine soaked.

A tapping on the pipes made them all stop. Dinner.

Groans quickly spread among the children. They reluctantly started handing the bottles to Catherine.

“Vincent, why don’t you keep them for the next time?”

The children’s eyes danced with glee. Vincent put the bottles in the buckets and handed them to the children to carry.

“Would you join us, Catherine?” Vincent asked.

“I would love to.”

Vincent took her hand and they followed the children to dinner.