Happy birthday, dear Adrian Thursday July 13, 2006, 1 comments

There are watershed moments of such singularity that all other events are forever redefined as having happened either before or after. Some are part of the collective, like Kennedy’s assassination (where were you?) or the first man in space. Some are personal, like weddings, the death of a parent or the birth of a child.

My tenth birthday stands out for me as such a singularity.

It started as any other birthday might. In our house, birthday’s were special, but not extraordinarily so. My parents both wished me a good day on their way out to work, and my sister hugged me tight and welcomed me to the world of two-digit living with a kiss on the cheek.

Happy birthday to me.

At school the day was largely ignored. Sister Maria Corvi was not one to celebrate trivial events like birthdays, and most especially not one that everyone else in the class had celebrated the year before.

Not everyone let the day pass uneventfully. A girl named Kimberly offered birthday wishes, but it was off hand and affected – something she did because it was what people did. It was nice, even if it didn’t mean anything.

Jay chose the day to renew hostilities by cornering me after school. His cruelty had been held in check since the park by fear of being caught, but a hatred that I’d never understand had finally overcome his concern. HIs cronies held my arms behind me while he slammed his fist into my stomach, over and over, once for each year. I tried not to cry when he spit in my face. A pinch to grow an inch, I heard him laugh as he left.

Happy birthday to me.

We went out for dinner that night, though I wasn’t very hungry. I made an effort to enjoy myself, to be a happy boy. We had steak, even though I never much cared for beef, and we had birthday desserts and my mom even gave me a sip of her wine to celebrate.

We had presents. My sister gave me the new Michael Jackson album, called Thriller, and my parents gave me all sorts of presents, as they always did. New shoes and clothes, a new sketchbook, several books they thought I’d enjoy. It was a wonderful dinner.

Afterward we went home. I had to practice, and it was getting late. An hour and a half of piano every night, whether I was in the mood or not. With each note I played, each page of music I turned, I grew more and more upset about the day, about Jay’s hatred for me. Eventually I threw my music books across the room and started hammering on the piano, beating a tantrum on the keys.

My mother had made it perfectly clear that an hour and a half of piano was an hour and a half of deep concentration and musical perfection. She was not paying for lessons so that I could be another piano dropout. I would be the best. She yelled at me over the wall of sound I was making and I beat the piano harder to drown out her voice.

I saw it coming. I could have moved my hands. In one lightning quick movement she slammed the keyboard cover down over the keys. The sound of my fingers breaking, like dry twigs popping in the cold winter air filled the sudden, dreadful silence.

Happy birthday, dear Adrian.

I cried, later in the hospital, against my sister’s shoulder. I cried as a kindly nurse with the lopsided smile finished with the casts on my hands. She told me it was okay, that it would stop hurting soon, and I nodded to ease her mind. But I didn’t know if it would ever stop hurting.

Happy birthday to me.


jules Thursday July 13, 2006

ok – i DID NOT see that one coming. My fingers hurt.

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The website of Adrian Lebar

A Rain of Frogs is written, designed and built by Adrian Lebar, a twenty(!) year veteran of web design and development. He is currently managing web and mobile development teams at Canada’s largest and most beloved classifieds site, Kijiji!

He is a father, sailor, snowboarder, skier, cyclist, writer, artist, graphic designer, classically trained musician and afraid of heights.

Adrian is not currently available for freelance and contract work. Learn more.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
- Dr. Seuss


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