Happy Birthday. Short Story.

Johnny poured himself another drink. It was his third, no, fourth, in less than an hour. He had a strong, mellow buzz going and though he hadn’t quite tipped over from tipsy to drunk, he knew it was only a matter of time. He took a sip of his drink and sighed, he would slow it down now, make this one last. He stood, stumbled and balanced himself, he let out a brief chuckle then walked into the kitchen, not noticing as he weaved back and forth. It was time for dinner, but what would he have? He opened the fridge and looked at the food, nothing jumped out at him. Everything needed to be cooked, he didn’t want to cook today, today was not a day for cooking, it was a day for fast, easy. He considered ordering in, but decided against it. He didn’t want to deal with people today. He never did. He checked the freezer and found what he was looking for, an oven pizza. He unboxed it and placed it into the oven carefully. He turned it on, then double checked to make sure it was, in fact, on. Last year he had waited over an hour for his food to finish before realising the oven wasn’t actually on. He wouldn’t make that mistake again.

He had planned to get some food into the house, some quick and easy food, but he had been too busy. Work had been a bitch the last few days and on the way home today he just couldn’t face going into the supermarket. With the pizza safely in the oven and the timer set he stumbled back into his sitting room and flopped down onto the comfortable couch. He settled himself for a moment then turned on the TV, he flicked around until he found a movie, something with explosions and fast cars. He didn’t really care, it was just something he could dip in and out of, noise so he didn’t feel lonely. His phone buzzed, he ignored it. He didn’t need to look to know who was texting him, of course it would be Becky, his sister. The bitch. She only ever texted him twice a year. He only texted her twice too, once as a generic fuck you, and the other as a generic Happy Christmas. He would text her later on, but not now, it would be after a few more drinks, once he was nice and drunk.

He hauled himself from the couch and stumbled back to the kitchen, the timer was beeping frantically, he switched it off and took the pizza out of the oven, carefully pulling it out with the pizza cutter. He cut it and grabbed a glass for himself, what ever about getting drunk, pizza always needed to be eaten with a glass of ice cold Coke close at hand. After getting his drink he grabbed the food and went back into the sitting room, sitting down again to watch the movie. It wasn’t as bad as he had expected, he watched as he ate. When he was done he looked at the empty plate and considered putting on more food, he was still feeling hungry. He shook his head, no, he was full, he had to be, he ate an entire pizza. He put his plate onto the small coffee table and lay back, he would go get more food in a bit. There was some chocolate hiding somewhere in the cupboards, he could have that, maybe throw on some onion rings he had seen in the freezer. He took a sip of Coke, then a sip of booze. He sighed and settled in.

His phone buzzed again, damn text. He picked it up and opened it, it was brief, they always were, “Hope you’re having a good birthday!” Bitch. He squinted, trying to see better and typed out a message. “You know I’m not but the booze helps.” He read over it three times to make sure it was spelled right, then he clicked send. She was the only person who knew when his birthday was since their parents died. He never mentioned it to anyone else, always let the day just go by. He hated his birthdays, they were always awful, always ruined. From the first birthday he remembered, him crying in front of a destroyed cake as his parents screamed at each other, to the one where he tried to kiss Sally Miller during spin the bottle and she slapped him, to his twenty first, where he sat alone in a pub, waiting for his so called friends to show, knowing that they probably wouldn’t.

This was the way people should celebrate birthdays, alone, no expectations. That way you can’t be disappointed by it all. Tomorrow was always the best day, the day where he didn’t have to think or worry about his birthday for another entire year. Now though, now was the time to just let it all go. He took another gulp of his drink, his phone buzzed again, he picked it up, another message from Becky, he frowned, normally he got no response. His finger hovered over it, did he want to read it? No. He didn’t. He turned his phone off and threw it over to the other chair. There. No one else could bother him. Good. He took another drink.

When it was finally time for bed he pulled himself out of the warm grip of the couch and made his way towards the stairs, as he went he trailed one arm along the wall for balance. The stairs were difficult to master, they kept shifting on him, tilting ever so slightly to throw him off balance. He paused at the bathroom for a piss, then stumbled to his room where he collapsed onto his bed. He didn’t bother stripping out of his clothes, it was too much effort. He rolled over onto his side and decided to get under the covers, he reached out and grabbed a fist of his duvet, but passed out before he could drag it over himself.

He woke the next morning to a steady, deep pounding in his head, his stomach a rolling ball of nausea. He groaned as he sat up, lying there would do nothing for him. His cure for hangovers always worked, he just needed to get moving and he would be fine. He stumbled to the bathroom and turned on the faucet at the sink, he leaned over and gripping the sink tightly, took a few gulps of water. His stomach clenched once, then settled a little. Feeling shaky he stripped out of his clothes and hopped into the shower, once there he turned on the water full blast, suppressing a shriek as the icy water hit him. After a minute the water started to warm up and he quickly washed himself. Once washed he got out of the shower, then he dried and dressed himself.

Downstairs he poured some oil into the pan, then threw on a few strips of bacon, while they sizzled he grabbed out the eggs, he cut up some tomato and threw it into the pan, along with some mushrooms, then he cracked two eggs over it all. When it was done cooking he sat down with some toast and started eating. When he was done his stomach had settled and his headache was almost completely gone.

He turned his phone on and looked at the unread message. After a minute of debating he deleted it. Nothing good would come from it. She would want to reconnect, or she would try to start a fight. He didn’t want to be a part of either options. He put his phone down and tidied up the sitting room. One birthday down, god only knew how many more to go.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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