So the 5th of November came round again, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve aged another year. 17’s a strange number, it doesn’t suit me yet. I’m no longer able to sing along to the Sound of Music, which is a major let-down, but it’s part of life- a part we must all come to accept. Seriously though, my 17th birthday was a memorable one, picked at the worst possible time of year.
Monday morning I met up with Richard to spend the whole day studying. Arrive at the state library 1000hrs, leave at 2000hrs, get some sleep before the Applicable Mathematics Tertiary Entrance Exam the next day. Or that was the plan, at least. Shirley and Alex, the two girls that spotted Richard and demanded to sit with us, were great company. Sure I didn’t get much done, but there were a lot of laughs, and I figured "It’s either attempt to study and have fun, or just go home and play Zelda. May as well try." When everyone (Jack + everyone else from Chisholm (yes, he’s one of them now)) took a break for lunch, I had to go out and buy mine. Richard came with me, but when we got back, everyone had moved to resume studying. So what do we do? We hit the streets for three hours to get us some bubble tea.
I didn’t actually get a whole lot of work done on Monday, but it was loads of fun. Enter present tense.
I glance at the clock, it’s 1800hrs. I grit my teeth, screw my hand to the desk, and start doing some maths. I get about half a question done and end up so sick of trying to study that I just don’t. I walk over to the balcony (the state library has a five stories open to the public, as well as mysterious staircases that go even further up) and feel guilty and sick for a while. Enter Jack. He walks up to me with all his books and he just nudges his head at the stairs and says "Come on, we’re going." I try protesting- the library’s open until 8, I still have time to study etc but he hears nothing of it. "Hurry up, let’s go." So, bewildered, I do the only thing I can do and grab my stuff. Jack calls Richard over and makes him pack up too. Alex has gone home. A Chisholm lad (Kevin) rocks up to keep Shirley company while Jack makes Richard and I leave. So I try a different approach, and ask him where he’s going. "You mean where we’re going." Right, where we’re going. "Just hurry the hell up!" And that’s all I get. I turn to Richard, who’s looking kinda lost but he’s going along with it so I figure I can too.
Tahlia- Jack’s sister- is parked outside. Guess that means Richard’s getting a lift home, but… I live half an hour away, so what I am doing here? I get in anyway. We head back to Jack’s place. As we arrive, Bethwyn gets out of her car. I blink and ask what she’s doing here. Nobody answers, so cautiously I approach the front door. I hold it open for Richard and Beth, but they refuse to go in before me. So I enter and walk tentatively to the lounge room. There’s a balloon in the floor and my breath catches as I step inside. I’m bombarded with Happy Birthday!s. Balloons, well-wishes, general warm fuzziness! Someone puts a party hat on my head. My God it’s beautiful.
There’s a parcel sitting on the table. Oh no, it’s been wrapped (kinda). This means it… it… I look around- it’s a joke, surely. Everyone’s grinning. I sit down and take a breath. I run my hand across the box and swallow my anticipation. It’s about four feet long and one foot wide, a couple of inches deep. I don’t want to open it- it’s too precious, too perfect. I struggle to get the sticky tape off- even with scissors I have trouble, yet no one helps me. In hindsight, I realise they couldn’t- the gift was for me.
I cut the tape but don’t open the lid. My heart is racing, pounding- it’s hard to breathe. I joke and feint cardiac arrest, but nervously I pry the lid off.
A scabbard. My first thought was "A broadsword. God, they got me a broadsword." I rip the styrofoam covering the hilt, and my heart stops for one split second. I know those quillons. There’s none other like them. From the box, with reverence, I lift the Blade of Evil’s Bane- the Master Sword. I unsheathe it and test its weight- Lord it’s heavy. Oil gleams on the blade- I finger its sharp edge and hold it up against the light. I grin at Jack. Time blurs.
I don’t remember the order of what happens next. Bethwyn vanishes shortly after giving me a strawberry lollipop. I go outside with Saxon and Jack to mess around with sticks and cameras. I sit down and eat party food- most of which I can’t touch because I’m a vegetarian. It’s delicious anyway. We listen to music, watch some Dragon Ball Z. As I sit on the couch, Tasoula (Jack’s Mum) walks in with a lighted cake. There are candles- I can’t count them- and everyone’s singing, even Richard. I can’t believe it, I really can’t. I… don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do. They tell me to make a wish and blow out the candles. I do, and the wish I am forbidden to repeat. May it come true anyway.
So that was my birthday. My only regret was the evening, when once again I flaunted my insensitivity. All in all though, it was a beautiful day. May you all experience the same! Thanks for reading.