Chapter 13: Birthday Wishes
I woke up from the dream with a start. It had been quite pleasant until Erik had materialized in my periphery. The elusive Sir James and I had been flirting in the halls of my school. I'm not sure why he was there or why I was wearing my gym uniform but I wasn't protesting.
Then he kissed me....and Erik showed up....
And the whole dream dissolved like a house of cards. I looked over at my alarm clock and realized I'd overslept. I was already late for school! Gah! I scrambled out of bed and into clothes. I grabbed my backpack and flew out of the house.
When I finally got to class, most of first period was over and I had to go to the front office to sign in. I saw Todd sitting there and smiled. "What are you doing here?"
"Parked in Principal Watt's spot." Todd said with a shrug like it was no big deal.
"What you do that for?" I asked as I stepped over to the desk and signed myself in.
Todd just shrugged.
"Wait, if you parked in his spot....you got your car?!" I asked surprised. It was his birthday but I wasn't sure if his dad had followed through with the car.
Todd shrugged again. "Yeah." he said with no enthusiasm what so ever.
"Okay then....well happy birthday Todd." I said taking the slip from the receptionist. "I'll see you later?" I was greeted with another shrug in response. I looked at him for a few more moments before leaving, unsure what to say to him.
Todd seemed down right depressed through out the day. The group decided to surprise Todd at his new car to try and cheer him up after school. I was volunteered to round Todd up and get him there without arousing his suspicions. I think Todd knew we were planning something but he laughed and cheered for the pitiful singing group.
"It's a nice car man." Erik said examining the car. Veronica was also impressed with it and jumped in to examine the interior. Timothy and I hung back and watch them amused.
"So does this mean the divorce is final?" I asked from the sidelines.
Todd looked up and shrugged. "Yeah, I have to get home actually to help my dad move his stuff. Want a ride Ginny?"
"Sure!" I said smiling. I wasn't nearly as thrilled with the car as Todd was but I was happy for him. Veronica got out of the passenger seat and I took her spot. I waved to everyone as we pulled out of the school parking lot.
"Are you okay Todd?" I asked after we'd spent the first half of the trip in silence.
"Sure Ginny, I'm fine." he said but he didn't sound too convincing.
We lapsed into another silence. "It's a nice car." I said hoping to strike up a bit of excitement from him.
"Yeah, yeah it is." Todd said absently. He was almost too our houses by then so I didn't push him further.
When we got to my house, I got out of the car and grabbed my backpack. "Happy birthday Todd. Come over later if you want, we can watch a movie or something."
"Sure sure." he said. As soon as I closed the door and stepped away, he was off. I watched him stop by his own mailbox and rifle through the mail. He had a a couple envelopes in his hand that looked like birthday cards when he got back in his car and left. I watched his car disappear from our street and then went inside to work on my homework.
I flipped the channel to the classic movie channel and looked at the clock. It was almost time for bed and Todd still hadn't come home - at least I hadn't heard him. I was anxious and worried about him when I heard a knock behind me and nearly jumped out of my skin.
I got up and took a few calming breaths and then went over to the glass doors, Todd was standing a little unsteadily on the other side. Unlocking one, I slid it open and he stumbled inside.
"Todd?!" I asked putting my hands on his shoulders to steady him. "Todd are you okay? Are you hurt?"
"Hmm? Oh hi Ginny!" he said with more animation than I'd seen on his face all week. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Todd?" I asked again, this time looking in his eyes and examining his face. "Todd, this is my house...."
"Hmm?" he said again and looked around. I watched his face slowly transform into awareness as he took in the house. "Oh...right....Sorry, I must have..." he clutch his head. "Oh wow - I don't feel too good."
"Todd what happened to you?" I asked leaning in close to him to try and comfort him. Then I smelt it so clearly on his breath. "You're drunk!"
"What?! No!" Todd protested loudly - too loudly. If he really was drunk, I didn't want my dad finding out. "I am not drunk...I just had one....or two....well I don't really know but I am NOT drunk!"
"Shh!" I hissed at him. "What the hell Todd? Why were you drinking AT ALL?"
"Oh get off my back Ginny!" Todd snapped.
"Ginny, who are you talking to?" my dad called.
"Oh crap! Come on, move it! If my dad sees you like this...." I trailed off and almost shoved him stumbling out the door. For a moment I thought it would be better to let him be caught but I still moved him forward. I couldn't send him home like this but he couldn't very well sleep it off in my house. "The playhouse!" I said as it came in sight. I steered him over to it, having to catch his heavy frame a few times as he almost fell into the pool.
I opened the door with Todd leaning heavily on me and pretty much threw him onto the small couch. I wasn't even out the door before he was asleep. "Great." I muttered, turning off the light and closing the door softly. I quietly reentered the house and went up to my room. My dad, after the talking had stopped, must have assumed it was the TV or something because he didn't bother me.
I knew I had to get Todd back to his own house before morning so I set the alarm for four and crawled beneath the covers. Unfortunately the morning's dream about Sir James did not return. Instead I was haunted by visions of an angry, jealous Erik and a drunken, depressed Todd.
The alarm went off all too soon and I scrambled to silence it before it woke up my dad as well. I dug around under my bed for my slippers.
I slipped down the stairs quietly, stepping over the one I knew always groaned under weight. Then I slid open the glass doors and was blasted by cold early morning temperatures. "Geez it's cold!" I mutter to myself and wrapped my arms around myself as I jogged past the pool and to the play house.
I looked inside and saw Todd already sitting up and awake. I opened the door and flipped on the light which made Todd flinch away from it. "Good you're awake."
"What am I doing here Ginny?" Todd asked, still shielding his eyes from the light,
"Good question...I have no idea." I said. "Why were you drinking last night?"
Todd was silent but removed his hand from his eyes and squinted as his eyes adjusted.
"Right, well you better get home then, it's about four now. If you're quiet maybe you're mom won't hear you coming in." I said.
"Right." Todd said, not moving from the couch. "Right, of course. Thanks Ginny - for....well for whatever." he said finally standing up. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out one of his birthday cards and handed it to me.
I looked at it confused and was about to question it but he was already gone, darting across both our lawns to get to his house. I looked down at the card and flipped it open. Inside, in elegant handwriting it read:
"Happy Birthday Todd. I miss you. Love~ Mei-Ling"
I sighed and slumped into the couch. If this card hadn't come at the same time he was helping his father move, his parents were getting divorced....I reread it several times and then leaned my head back on the couch to stare at the ceiling.