A birthday. Again. To her, they always seemed like much ado about nothing. No need to fuss, there would always be another one in a year in case you slept through, were not in the mood for, or had other plans besides facing this one. Stirring two lumps of sugar into her rose tea at the round kitchen table, she contemplated the inopportune visitor and pondered over what to do with it. It was too late in the morning to sleep, too early in the day to drink. She could drown it with tea, or stuff it with pancakes and vanilla ice cream. Or she could wash the dirty dishes in the sink and go to work. Or.
Credit: Tatsuya Tanaka
She went for a ride. She wore her burgundy pants and her parrot printed shirt. Around her neck, an owl concealing a watch that ticked but never told the time. And bright, bright lipstick. She picked up her umbrella and fishing pole and stuffed them in a violin case on her way out.
The streets were empty. There were no cars on the road. Maybe she was just driving opposite everyone else. She made a sharp turn to the right. The car skidded and the parrots on her shirt shrieked in alarm. She laughed. She drove past the traffic lights, beyond the buildings, past the telephone poles. She drove over a bridge and up a green green hill. When she reached the top she stopped and got out, leaving the keys in the ignition. She turned back. She had almost forgotten her violin case.
Turning her back to the old blue car, she could see the sea, the sky, and the shimmering golden line in the horizon where they met. They were both crystalline clear. She pulled out her fishing pole and attached a red ribbon she had found in her back pocket to the hook. With a deft flick of her wrist, she threw the fishing line out towards the brightly colored line in the distance. The hook caught onto the fabric of the universe, and she tugged it till the fishing line was straight and taught. Planting her pole firmly into the grass, she opened her umbrella.
Umbrella in one hand, violin case in the other for balance, she climbed up onto the taught fishing line and walked forward. Feet light, ankles barely touching the line, not looking down, or back. The closer she got to the line where the sky and the sea met, the brighter her curly blond hair shone as it caught the shimmering light. Somewhere behind her, she could still hear the sound of the old blue car’s engine, and a violin. Or maybe it was a cat.
She floated till she reached the spot where the hook had caught the universe, then undid the red ribbon and put it back in her pocket. She paused for a moment.
Only a moment. Then she leaped into the horizon between the sea and the sky.
Stars. Billions and billions of stars. So many of them the sky was as brightly lit as a theater stage. The single violin had become an orchestra. And the clock around her neck that never told the time anyway went silent. Her umbrella shielding her from random star showers, she tiptoed and twirled and leaped across the universe till she was out of breath. Then she let the current carry her lazily down the Milky Way.
Dusk was setting by the time she made it back across the fishing line to the green hill where her car was waiting patiently. It had had the courtesy to turn its headlights on to guide her back. Jumping lightly off the fishing line and onto the grass, she acknowledged the gesture with a slight nod of the head. She shook the excess stardust off of her umbrella and put that, and the fishing pole, back into the violin case.
She then drove back down the hill, across the bridge, toward the telephone poles and buildings and the traffic lights. The clock around her neck warned that she was going to be late for her own surprise birthday dinner.
To the girl with the curly blond hair and burgundy pants. Who taught me all I know about what to do with birthdays.