I woke up, took a shower, got dressed and walked to school. You always knew who the popular girls were because on their birthday they would walk into class with a cloud of colorful balloons – you were extra popular if you received the Elmo or Winnie the Pooh character aluminum balloons. I prayed someone would say happy birthday but not out loud or everyone would see my empty arms.
Aracely didn’t say a thing as we went to home room and sat down. I could feel the sadness pressing down hard almost crushing my chest so I couldn’t breathe. I guess they forgot.
“Hey we’re going to Jack in the Box after school, you coming?” Yeah let me pull out my wallet, “no, I can’t stay after school.” “Come on, I’ll pay.” My ears felt hot and my face was probably redder than the cracking paint on the curb of the side-walk. “No, I just can’t stay. Thanks though.” Aracely looked back and was about to ask again but then walked off.
“What are you doing? You lazy fuck! Always reading! Why aren’t you cleaning?!” I got up from the bed and I hid my book before she grabbed it and threw it away.
She grabbed an arm full of my books and threw them on the ground. “Tira esos libros a la basura! Pinche floja!! Do something useful and fold the laundry too!” She left and came back with a full armload of laundry for me to fold.
“Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Lorena! Happy Birthday to you!” I couldn’t believe it.
Aracely, Stephanie, and Mina were at my door with a homemade cake in hand singing to me.
“We asked your mom to let you come to my house but she said you had homework.” Aracely looked at the laundry in the bed and rolled her eyes. “So we brought the party to your house!”
The cake said ‘Happy Birthday Lorena’ spelled out in lucky charm cereal letters. I couldn’t stop smiling as I blew out the 14 candles and we devoured the cake.
Sometimes friends are your real sangre.