One Day Closer
(By "Heh, my own birthday was a few days ago!" Zarla)
(Warning: I'm not responsible fer any mental damage caused by readin this fic.)
Most people don't expect typical clichés to become reality. Such melodramatic and maudlin scenes are relegated to popular songs, television shows, and theatrical presentations. It never really happens, not to the extent represented, not to actual people. Clichés join the ranks of stereotypes, as things that can never actually be true.
He was alone on his birthday.
It wasn't as though he couldn't explain why this was so. After all, this was hardly the first time. His past few birthdays had also been bereft of human accompaniment. While he did buy himself a cake, there was no chorus of mismatched voices wishing him well. There were no arguments between family members, awkward moments between friends of the family and friends of the family, no mistakes or dropped cakes, no trick candles switched for true candles, no gaudily wrapped packages and those boxes that were always wrapped up in the Sunday newspaper comics page.
For a few years now, the same routine.
Of course, Edgar could not forget his birthday. Regardless if others were aware or helped him recognize the date, he knew it himself. He did not view it with any kind of anticipation, but it was a reality for him and a day that he felt he should mark. On that day, Edgar would go to a local bakery, get a small cake that he liked with a corresponding amount of candles, and go home.
There were no gifts for him, other then those he bought himself. He would set the cake up that night, light the candles, and blow them out. Singing the customary song only seemed too dramatic, and Edgar disliked indulging self-pity.
Today was that day. Edgar sat in the same place, with the same blank cake in front of him, lit only by the small blue and white candles. Unlike previous years, however, Edgar couldn't say he was exactly alone. Not like he was normally accustomed to being alone, anyway.
The song echoed in his head against his will.
Happy birthday, Edgar. Even such normally cheerful words sounded like an insult. Happy birthday to you.
He forgot to get a knife. He stood and walked to the drawer in his kitchen, trying to ignore that inner voice that had only grown more sentient and persistent over time.
This is so sad, Edgar. Thousands of songs about being alone on one's birthday, the tears shed amidst bright colors and fanfares and those annoying little sound makers. Although to your credit you aren't crying. Don't you find this just the least bit worrisome?
Edgar sat down and stared at his cake. Wax dripped onto the icing.
"It's always been this way." It didn't matter if he spoke out loud or not.
That's right. You're fine all by yourself. But that doesn't make it acceptable, Edgar. The fact that you're used to it doesn't make this any less pathetically depressing. Do you really enjoy all this sugar? Is this cake for you, or for the person you wish you could be, the man who'd have someone to share it with?
Edgar sighed and rested the edge of the blade against the icing. The candles' light shone off its surface.
"This is all too philosophical for a birthday."
This is all too pathetic for a birthday, that's what it is.
In the years that come to pass, every year you'll sit here. Every year another cake, until someday you die. Doesn't this bother you at all? It's supposed to be a celebration of the fact you didn't die the year before. What you're doing right now is celebrating a life that is essentially worthless. Empty. Why waste the money on a cake?
Edgar tended to feel mechanical about the entire birthday process, but now he felt definite twinges of depression. The blade still rested on the cake's surface, the cake intact as Edgar lost all drive to cut it.
"It's...it's my birthday. It's what I do."
No one loves you, Edgar. I wish there was a less cliché way to put it, but at the moment it's not like this scenario could have an alternate description. That's what the intent of this little scene is, after all. In the songs and writing. A lonely birthday because no one cares.
He put the knife down.
The worst part about it was that Edgar could not really argue.
It's really too much sugar for nothing.
Edgar ended up staring at the cake and watching the candles melt for half an hour. At that point, he wasn't sure if he wanted to eat the cake regardless of his feelings about the entire matter.
His phone rang.
Shaken out of his stupor, Edgar stumbled towards his phone.
"Hello, Nny. Did you...um...how are you?"
"I'm as good as I can ever be." Nny's sharp voice crackled through his phone. Edgar's fingers twitched. "What are you doing?"
There had always been pauses in their conversations, so Edgar's pause at this point was not regarded as strange.
"It's...it's my birthday today."
"It is?" Johnny sounded surprised. That was expected. "You didn't say anything about it."
He realized he had no justification.
Johnny seemed able to tell the difference between the two pauses. This time he continued despite Edgar's unfinished sentence. "All right, I'll be over there in a few minutes. Do you have a cake?"
He had to force the words into coherency. "Yeah, and candles too."
Johnny huffed into the phone shortly. "Okay, just checking. Is anyone else there?"
Edgar stared at the desk his phone sat on.
"Okay." Johnny's voice was difficult to read. "I think I have something you may like. It doesn't bother you that it isn't gift-wrapped or anything, given my short notice?"
Edgar shook his head, then reprimanded himself. "No, of course not, I mean, really, no, not at all."
"Okay." Johnny hung up without a good-bye.
Edgar sat down on the arm of his couch.
Did you just forget, or did you think he wouldn't come?
Edgar shook his head again, then turned to look at the cake sitting in his kitchen.
"I don't know."
Minutes passed by without mark as he stared off into space, unable or unwilling to focus on anything to think about.
Edgar ran a hand through his hair.
A knock at his door.
Happy birthday, Edgar.
(Author's Note: Oh sure, brain. I want to do a birthday fic, and it has ta be about Edgar and Nny and be strangely depressing. THANKS.
This song is da most depressing song ever. Old and Wise by the Alan Parsons Project.
This fic has such weird melancholy tones. I'm not sure why. Even the ending seems strangely subdued. Ah well.)