THE FOR(EVER) BIRTHDAY.

It’s my birthday today and I’m four. I don’t know what being four years old will mean, but yesterday no one gave me presents and today I’ve got tons. I like being four. I wonder if I could be four forever? Mum said that she’s been my mum since I was born, the only thing is though, she has been around me forever. Does four years old mean forever then?

I love my mum and I do know what love means. It’s hugs and kisses, then snuggles under warm blankets against each other or cuddled up, on what they call a settee, watching Sponge Bob in his yellow Square pants. I know my colours, I can count too. At play school I learned some letters, now, at nursery, I can recite what the teacher calls an alphabet, I can count to one hundred as well! I’m clever they say, but I don’t know what clever is. My brother can do all what I can, and more. He must be really, really clever! Later on I’ll let him play with my presents, but not yet though, he can wait!

My dad is a big man, much taller than me. When he comes home he always lifts me up, almost to the top of the room, giving me a big wet kiss on my lips as he tickles me and makes me laugh. I love my dad and I know he loves me because he says so every morning and every night before I go to sleep. Sometimes he stays home on what they call weekends. That’s when we go to a park where he pushes me on the swings and pretends to be a monster chasing me, but when he gets tired we have to go home. My brother doesn’t need pushing as he’s big enough to do it himself. I wish everyday could be a weekend, then the four of us could be together all warm and cosy, especially when it has been cold outside, like it is now.

I’ve got a puppy dog. I suppose he’s called a puppy because he is smaller than me. If I was as small as him, would I be called a puppy boy? His name is Charlie. He’s brown, white and furry and smells awful sometimes. He licks my face, then, when mum isn’t looking, I kiss him back. I love Charlie and Charlie loves me. I can tell he does by the way he wags his tail whenever I call him, or when I eat my meals. Then he is extremely happy. Sitting alongside me swishing his tail backwards and forwards across the floor, catching my crumbs. When I’ve finished eating he picks up anything he’s missed, or on the chair where I have been sitting, he’s very good at that. Mum always thanks him for saving her time in clearing up the mess that I make. She calls him Mr. Charlie the vacuum. I wish I had a tail, then I could wag it when I see mum, and then dad, when he comes home from what he calls his work.

“See you in the morning big man. When I get home from work, before you’re off to School.”

I sleep in a separate room normally but when dad’s at work, I sleep with mum. My brother stays in my room all the time. I do complain about the noises he makes, it makes no difference though, mum just says to ignore him. That is very difficult, as he talks to me when I’m trying to sleep.

The clock has struck seven chimes, so dad will be home any minute! There’s no sign of Martin, I left him asleep upstairs.

I’m still a bit confused. If mum and dad have been here forever, will forever be there tomorrow and, if so, will it be there the next day and the next? How long is forever? I asked Martin that question, that’s my brother’s name, but he didn’t know either.

Mum and Charlie are next to me. All three of us are on the clean shiny floor looking at the parcels set out around the television. They are all for me. Mum is in her red dressing gown, smelling of soap and freshness, the kind that comes out of that bottle which she adds to her bath. She has a special smell, I call it simply a mummy smell. Dad smells differently, especially on those weekends when he’s spicy and warm with a smooth face, not rough and spiky, when he leaves for work, nor a little smelly when he comes home.

Charlie never leaves us for long, often getting under mum’s feet, or caught up in the washing on the floor in front of what’s called a washing machine. Mum says she’ll put him in there one day, if he’s not careful. He smells of the cold and very unpleasant. A bit like the toilet after I have been in there, stinky! He’s just come in from the garden and I wish he would sit the other side of the rug. He pongs! I’ve been told that it’s not his fault that he smells so bad, as his legs are too short to walk up the stairs. Perhaps, as he gets older, he will be able to use a potty like I did. I’ll ask Martin, I think, when I see him next.

That’s the front door closing; goodie, goodie dad’s home. Time to open all my presents.

“Go on Tommy, open this one, first. It’s from Auntie Joan. She will have bought you something nice.”

It is nicely wrapped, I must say, all in blue and red shiny paper with a gold number four on it. There is a blue balloon tied on that’s touching the ceiling, but my eyes are on that huge box that dad has just put down, before he kissed mum, and tickled me.

“Hello my little soldier. Happy birthday son,” he said, on placing that box down next to me.

Auntie Joan lives a car ride away. She has a sweet jar in her kitchen full of chocolate buttons which she keeps next to a gigantic fruit bowl, with tons of oranges in it. I love Auntie Joan and her sweets and oranges. I always take some extras sweets for Martin but he doesn’t like chocolate nor oranges. I don’t care, it means there are more for me!

Martin and I talk a lot when we play with my cars, he’s kind; letting me win all the races. Sometimes I play hide and seek with him but he can never find me. I’m great at hiding, having to call out to let him know where I am. He is useless at it. I always know where he is, and can easily find him. The only thing that he is really good at is taking the blame, if I do anything wrong. Mum is always telling me to tidy away my toys, but I say that it’s Martin that made the mess, and he never tells. It’s good to have a brother like that. He is good in another way, now that I think of it, he eats all my cauliflower. Well, actually he doesn’t. I put it in my pocket, before throwing it in the bin when mum’s not looking, but I tell her that Martin ate it.

I didn’t wake Martin on purpose as I thought he might sulk on seeing me opening all of these parcels. There’s a party later though, so I expect he will come to that. He likes parties does Martin.

I’m opening Auntie Joan’s present now, but my eyes are on that box of dad’s. It’s a light shade of brown, with arrows on all of its sides and the words, This Way Up. Charlie is giving it a real good sniff and that tail of his is hitting me everywhere. He’s very, very excited, as am I!

I wonder if Martin crept out of the room and is now hiding inside? I’ll open that next. Then, if he is, mum and dad will see him, and not keep calling him my imaginary friend.

I wonder if imagination lasts forever?

The End.

The Desolate Garden.

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About Danny Kemp

I was at work one sunny November day in 2006, stopped at a red traffic light when a van, driven incompetently, smashed into me. I was taken to St Thomas' Hospital and kept in for a while, but it was not only the physical injuries that I suffered from; it was also mental ones. I had lost confidence in myself let alone those around me. The experts said that I had post-traumatic stress disorder, which I thought only the military or emergency personnel suffered from. On good days, I attempted to go to work, sometimes I even made it through Blackwell Tunnel only to hear, or see, something that made me jump out of my skin and that's when the anxiety attacks would start. I told my wife that I was okay and going regularly, but I wasn't. I could not cope with life and thought about ending it. Somehow or other with the help of my wife and medical professionals, I managed to survive and ever so slowly rebuild my self-esteem. It took almost four years to fully recover, but it was during those dark depressive days that I began to write. My very first story, Look Both Ways, Then Look Behind, found a literary agent but not a publisher. He told me that I had a talent, raw, but nevertheless, it was there. His advice was to write another story and that I'm delighted to say, I did. The success of that debut novel, The Desolate Garden, was down to sheer hard work, luck, and of course, meeting a film producer.
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3 Responses to THE FOR(EVER) BIRTHDAY.

  1. Tamy Burns says:

    I Loved This Story!

  2. andy wilson says:

    lovely story , you have such a talent with words and phrases. enjoyed the story so much , thanks

  3. Very nice story , innocent and delicate!

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