“Ma,” Trajan asked through his mother’s closed bedroom door, taking the knob in his hand and hoping to be let in. “Can you hear me?”
“I hear you fine, Trajan,” Dottie responded. “What is it you need?”
His mother had been sunshine and rain since the night his brother died. With any luck, today she would be sunshine. He thought he’d heard her showering that morning while the sky was still dark outside. He hoped that a stand-up shower might spell a departure from her lie around, tub-soaking ways.
“I came to remind you that today is your birthday.”
“I know today is my birthday. You think your mother has gone soft in the head?”
“Is there something special you want to do today?”
“No,” she replied. “Today is nothing special.”
“But, Ma, it’s your birthday. We need to celebrate.”
“Celebrate what, Trajan? Another year on this earth? I celebrate warm baths, clean sheets to lie in afterward. These things I do on a regular basis. Why wait one day a year to celebrate?”
“Ma, I’m being serious.”
“I’m being serious, too,” she assured him, groans from the mattress, suddenly put-upon as his mother shifted position in bed, grumbling through the shut door. “Tell you what,” she offered. “How about I give you my birthday on top of your own to do with as you please, seeing as how you have so much celebration in you. Wouldn’t that be special?”
Trajan let go of the knob, defeated.
“Happy birthday, Trajan,” his mother beamed from the other side of the locked bedroom door. “Be sure to have a slice of cake for me.”
He rested an open palm on one of the door’s raised panels, registered the empty feel of its hollow core. “Happy birthday, Ma,” he whispered into the door frame before turning up the hallway. “Here’s to another year.”
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