art by Shothot Designs
by Steven Saus
Sarah pulls into the driveway, and we all start to whisper. The tension and arguments of the day melt away in the heat of the birthday candles being lit. Rover whines from the bedroom and one of us--hard to tell which in the darkened living room--shushes the dog.
"Better that Rover whines instead of eating the cake," the person hiding behind the couch with me says. I nod before remembering that he probably can't see me either. We might argue later. We probably will, since we're a little too alike to get along comfortably. But right now we're all focused on Sarah, just waiting for her. As the last candle is lit, the whiff of butane reminds me of smoking. It reminds me of how badly I craved a cigarette when Sarah and I last argued.
Her voice had been calm. Too calm. "I want you to spend more time with me, Michael."