Paisley blew out the candle on the cupcake her friends lit with a lighter. Her friends cheered loudly. She noticed a couple of girls from the other side of the club looking at her. But didn’t mind. Tonight was her night, all eyes should be on her. She just celebrated her birthday. Yes it meant she was getting older but it also meant presents. She hoped her parents got her that Gucci bag she wanted. She didn’t really hint at it. She just showed them the picture on her phone and told them to buy it. They always did so it wasn’t a problem. She gulped down her drink and danced the night away. This was life, she thought.
When she got home that night her parents were waiting up for her. They had a beautiful red velvet cake waiting on the dining table. She fake acted surprised. They did it every year but she still wanted them to feel like it was special. She didn’t want to tell them that she already celebrated her birthday and that more than anything she just wanted to go pass out on her bed.
They sang for her and her dad said, “Make a wish.”
She did and blew out the candles. Her mother and father clapped.
She really hoped her wish would come true.
That life would always stay as awesome as it was now.
Paisley’s head buzzed. There might as well have been bees roaming around in her head because she could hardly think. It wasn’t an uncommon feeling though, especially after a night like the night before. She sat up in her bed, scratching her head. It had been two weeks since her birthday. The sun annoyingly filled her room even through the curtains. It was definitely summer. She groaned and got out of bed. She looked at herself in the mirror on her way to her bedroom door and pulled a face. Honestly it didn’t matter how old she got she still looked the same. But then again it could be worse. She needed to take a shower and wash her face. She still had the eyeliner on from yesterday, having immediately fallen into bed when she arrived home, and it was smeared by now. But first she would have breakfast and annoy her parents for a while before they went to work. She made her way downstairs and entered the kitchen, greeting her parents loudly and chirpy. She could see it worked on their nerves immediately and felt delight in ruffling their feathers. She kissed her mother, who was making breakfast for her father and herself, on the cheek and grabbed a piece of toast that she knew belonged to her father and took a bite.
“That was your father’s,” her mother complained just on queue.
“Dad eats too much,” she said and made a face when her dad frowned at her. “I need it more. I’m so much scrawnier than him.”
Her dad sighed and continued reading the morning paper.
“Paisley,” her mom said. Her mother looked uncomfortable. Oh, here we go, Paisley thought.
“Did you use my card yesterday?” Paisley continued eating her toast and answered nonchalantly, “No, why?”
Her mother bit her lip, probably weighing whether to continue the obvious argument that was about to happen.
“That’s strange.” Her mother switched off the stove and moved the pan of sausages off the warm plate.
“Because last night when I went to the store my card was maxed out.”
She turned around and looked at her daughter.
“I was in line with a whole cart of groceries that I had to unpack again. I had a whole queue of annoyed people behind me.”
Her mother wringed the dishcloth, a nervous habit.
“It was embarrassing.”
Paisley looked insulted.
“You can’t immediately point the finger at me when things happen, mom.”
Her mother sighed and said nothing. But it seemed her dad had heard enough and started yelling at Paisley about being irresponsible and having the audacity to lie about what she did as well.
“I just bought a few things,” Paisley said. “It’s not a big deal.”
Her mother sat down at the table her shoulders slumped. She could see her dad’s face turning a slight shade of red and if eyes could kill his would.
“We can’t keep covering up for you and fixing your mistakes,” he said. “You’re a grown woman.”
Paisley groaned and said, “I hate it when people say that. Why do people always say that?” She crossed her arms.
She was ready to get out of there and go back to sleep. Why couldn’t they just go to work already and leave her alone?
“Because it’s the truth and it’s time that you accept it and act your age,” her dad said.
Her mother finally looked up from her plate and softly added,
“We won’t always be here, Paisley,” her voice was an octave higher which happened when she was sad.
“We need to make you ready for if anything happens. Who’s going to take care of you then?”
Paisley rolled her eyes and groaned, “Mom! Don’t.”
Her dad loudly put the paper down on the table, “We’ve decided to give you a month.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“A month, for what?”
Her dad didn’t look at her and instead looked at her mother.
“A month to get a job and an apartment and then we want you out.”
Paisley’s mouth fell open.
“You’re not serious. Are you?”
She waved her arms as she spoke, “How do you expect me to get a job that fast?”
Her mother gathered her father’s plate and her own and started washing up. She didn’t like the confrontation one bit. But Paisley didn’t care. It’s not like they ever cared about her.
“We’ve given you countless chances,” her dad said. “And you’ve never wanted to apply for a job.”
She threw her hands in the air.
“Are you kidding me, what about that summer I worked?”
Her dad stood up from his chair, the chair made a loud noise as it moved backwards.
“That was high school!” her dad said, his face now a permanent red.
He rubbed his temples.
“Look, this is final. Get used to it and start looking for work. Hopefully this will keep you busy and stop these late night outings you’ve been having lately.”
It was childish and she knew it, but she stomped her feet, her sneakers screeching against the floor and shouted, “You never care about me! It’s always about your stupid money!”
Her dad sat back down and took a sip of his coffee.
“Well, money pays for that toast you just ate.”
She grunted and stomped out of the kitchen, up the stairs and slammed her door shut.
“I can still take that door off, you know!” she heard her dad yell from downstairs.
She kicked the door, not too loud, afraid her dad might really take her door again like when she was in high school. They honestly treated her like a child yet expected her to act like a grown up. It was frustrating because more than anything Paisley didn’t want to grow up. She liked having someone else do the worrying, she liked knowing things will always be ready for her. The thought of having to pay bills, clean around the house, go shopping for anything other than clothes, it made her shudder. It was bad enough that she turned thirty last week. She didn’t feel old but she knew that she wasn’t that high school kid anymore. How fast the years went passed. She hated it. Now everyone just expected her to get with the time but she didn’t want to. She was still that little kid inside. She still wanted to hold onto that time. She didn’t want to grow up and get married to a horrible husband, and have horrible children and a horrible job. That was the fate of growing up and she didn’t like it.
She called Natalie, a friend. She wasn’t really close to her and didn’t hang out with her a lot. Natalie used to be her babysitter when she was younger. She was quite a few years older and had a husband and children. Paisley didn’t understand why she looked so chirpy when she arrived at the table where she waited for her. How could this woman look so carefree when she had such an awful life?
“My parents threatened to kick me out,” she said as if expecting sympathy.
But Natalie didn’t offer that, instead she said, “Well it’s about time. I would have done it sooner.”
“Well, you are thirty years old. You should be living on your own by now.”
Paisley glanced at the baby in Natalie’s arms.
“And what, be a mother of four little monsters like you?”
Natalie didn’t seem fazed by her remark. “Being a mother is not that bad, nor is having a husband. You adjust.”
Paisley rested her chin on the palm of her hand. “I don’t want to adjust. Life is just so much simpler the way it is now.”
Natalie sighed. “I know, but sooner or later you need to move on and take care of yourself. It’s unfair to your parents if you don’t.”
Paisley looked at a young woman behind Natalie. She could only see her upper body. She loved the coat she had on. But Paisley scrunched up her face when the woman came in full view with a stroller.
She sighed. “No. I’m not moving out. They can’t just throw me out. They’re bluffing anyway. They’ll get over it just like they always have to.”
Natalie bit her underlip, obviously containing whatever she really wanted to say. Paisley was glad she did. And like that the conversation was over and Paisley didn’t care about it anymore. She wasn’t worried. Her parents were just trying to scare her. She would consider getting a part time job, maybe at a doggy daycare or something. Something easy. That would satisfy them enough. That was all they were getting out of her anyway.