Slowly, I wake up from my night of sleep at the exact same time I do every morning, 9 o’clock on the dot. A surge of happiness rushes through me as I get up and stretch out my long limbs. Today is my birthday and I’m finally 18 years old. I slip on the outfit I had planned to wear today but it just falls right off of me.
This did not ruin my happy mood, I just wear my usual clothes and bound down the stairs happily. Walking into the kitchen, I see my mother and younger sister sitting at the table with gloomy faces.
“Why so sad?” I ask them but they do not respond, they never really respond.
They both continue to eat their food slowly, their sadness intoxicating the air.
“You guys aren’t going to say happy birthday?” I ask but still no response, “Let’s head to school Jasmine.”
My little sister gets up from her seat and dumps her plate into the sink. I see her walk over to my mother and pull her into a tight hug, one that lasts for about three minutes before she pulls away. She then continues to walk past me. I wave happily at my mother before following behind her.
My sister and I don’t have a car and my mom isn’t really big on the idea of us taking the bus so we just walk to school. We walk in silence like we do any other day, her not even glancing at me once. Then we come upon the historic building that was once a large mansion that was then converted into a school.
I see everyone give my sister stares of sympathy and pity but she just rushes past all of them. I glare at them and in return, they shiver in fear. That is how the whole day goes. I go to all my classes and no one says hi or happy birthday. I’m invisible to them all. By the end of the day, I’m in a horrible mood. I meet my sister at the front school entrance where our mom will be picking us up.
“How was your day Jazz?” I ask, knowing she wasn’t going to reply, I continue, “Mine was absolutely horrible. Did you know it was my birthday today? No one else did, I didn’t get a single happy birthday from anyone. I feel so sad, maybe mom planned a surprise party or something.”
Just then, our mom pulls into the school parking lot. I get into the backseat before my sister takes her spot in the front. I, being the oldest, really should be in the front, be I’m nice enough to allow her the seat.
“So where are we going?” I ask.
I sigh and watch the trees pass by outside of my window. Soon, we pull into the cemetery. My excitement suddenly peaks as my mother and little sister get out of the car and slowly walk hand in hand. I follow closely behind them as they walk pass the gray and black graves. Crickets, owls, and many other animals and insects make noises in the night.
Finally, the stop in front of one particular grave. This grave is different than all the others, decorated with my mother and sister’s art. I see their shoulders begin to shake with the force of their tears. Stepping closer, I begin to read the familiar words on the stone slab.
Here lies the memory of Jennifer “Jenny” Paris
Loving daughter, older sister and classmate. A true beautiful soul that we will miss.
May 15, 1998 - May 15, 2014
“Happy birthday big sister,” I hear Jazz say through her tears.
A smile graces my face as I say, “Thank you.”