It began with cake, as usual.
My family has a long tradition of waking up the birthday boy or girl with cake and presents in bed, normally around 6:30.
I’ll take a moment to give you a side note:
The last four of my birthdays have encountered one mishap after another, so it’s normally 8:30 or even 9:00 by the time the family comes to my room. I would like to take a shower during these times of waiting, but my traditionalist brother won’t stand for it.
Anyway, the girls and I work up at 6:25 sharp. We set out the flowers, sealed the card, and got the cake.
We ran into problems almost immediately. I had pushed my creative gene to the extreme and come up with the idea to put the candles in the shape of my mom’s age (I didn’t say it was a great creative gene). I lit the first match.
The candle didn’t light.
Three matches later only four of the twenty candles were lit.
Please let me note here, that due to excellent training by my parents, my reaction to fire is this:
So having to stand in the dark in my probably flammable pj’s trying to light candles on a cake held dangerously crooked by my sister was terrifying.
I lit the fifth match.
All the candles blew out.
I took a deep breath. It was ok. I’d just… something.
I had it. I’d just light the candles at the key points of the digits. That would be enough.
When we finally lit the candles, the girls and I crept into Mom’s room singing “Happy Birthday”.
All went well, and we spent the next little while on our mom’s bed, trading stories and having a pleasant time. However, the rest of the day went like this:
8:45 AM: Mother leaves to drop the girls off at their babysitting job.
8:46 AM: I turn on the crockpot to warm the soup I made on Monday, then jump in the shower.
9:15: Turn on my computer to start school, scan Facebook for half an hour.
9:45: Feel guilty, start school.
12:00 PM: Lunch!
2:15 PM: First piano students of the day arrive. So far, so good.
3:30 PM: Students leave, I mention to mom that some bread would go well with the other soup I’m going to make. I tell her I’ll go get it later.
This is a total lie because I’m actually using this as a way to get out of the house to pick up one of the guests. But she doesn’t know that.
4:15 PM: Last piano student arrives.
4:20 PM: WHAT IS THIS NOISE I HEAR?!?!?!!?
Oh, I bet you know what it is.
It is my Mother. CHOPPING ONIONS. FOR SOUP. THAT I WAS GOING TO MAKE. And I know she won’t make enough because she only wanted me to make a little bit because she’s the only one in the family who eats it.
I try to focus on Matthew’s piece. It’s not working.
Okay, I tell myself. It’s all fine. Deep breaths. Whoo-hee whoo-hee whoo-hee.
I’m okay now. Really, it’s all fine. I’ll just make more and ignore any questions she asks.
Then the bomb drops.
She walks out the door.
Matthew finishes his piece.
4:42 PM: I can’t help it. In a few terse sentences, I explain my predicament to Matthew.
Everything happens in slow motion.
Matthew nods. I sigh. Then, casually, as though he isn’t solving all my problems with his one suggestion, he says,
“What if you just hid the soup and told your mom something happened to it so she has to make more?”
My mouth falls open.
“Matthew,” I say slowly, “You are an evil genius and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
4:45 PM: Matthew leaves and I jump into action. I pour the soup into a container and hide that in my closet. I’m still freaking out, however, so I text my dad and tell him that I’m freaking out.
While I wait for a response, I have a great idea.
I’ll concoct a fake injury to go with my story. That should buy us some time.
Because see, my big problem is keeping my mom from eating dinner before everyone arrived. I need to occupy her.
Although, I’m not sure how long my injury will stall her. Unless we are REALLY bleeding or she can see bone, my mom is pretty… um… dare I say, insensitive? to our wounds. But maybe it will give me a few minutes.
So as my dad calms my nerves with a phone call, I call upon my actress/author genes (which are WAY stronger than my creative gene) and carefully draw a bruise on my foot, right under my big toe, with purple, green, and yellow markers.
Reading a lot of books has been good for me, see? I know the bruise shouldn’t be just purple.
Perfect. I smudge it a bit and clean up the edges, then make an ice pack for myself.
I finish just in time.
5:00 PM: Mother arrives home.
I’m standing in the kitchen trying not to laugh. Mother comes in and the following occurs:
Me (sad and repentant): I’m sorry, Mother, but the soup boiled over… and then I dropped the pot on my foot. *reveals foot*
Mother: *gasps in absolute horror* SARAH ANNE, WHAT ON EARTH HAVE YOU DONE TO YOUR POOR SELF?
My sisters: *gasp*
Me: *mentally* Uh-oh. *Out Loud* It’s really fine… I mean, I’m okay…
Mother: And you cleaned up the whole kitchen! Oh, you poor baby.
At this point, I am too stunned for words.
The next thing I know, I’m in the den with my foot propped up and Karen is bringing me an ice pack. Pulling her close, I explain the situation. She looks relieved.
5:30 PM: Mother has finished making the new batch of soup and now comes to the den. She sits down on the couch and looks me dead in the eyes. “Now,” she says, “Tell me how this happened. From the beginning.”
Here comes the writer.