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Kai'Lin Merriweather

Grade: 12

Shaker Heights High School

Instructor: Carole Kovach

Birthday

Short Story

Birthday

Isradaeya rubbed the dirt between her fingers in hopes that the friction would take a layer of it off. When was the last time she'd seen the pink meat of her palms? The lines on her palms that predicted if she would get married and how many kids she would have? Isra didn't want to have kids anymore. Anyone who brought a life into this world as it was now was just as cruel as the war. Maybe that's why she resented her mother so much for bringing another life into this world when she could barely feed herself, let alone the two kids she already had. Yet despite her mild loathing for her mother, she rubbed her nose to tame the urge to sneeze while her body lurched as she forced it to hold in a cough as her mother slept. Her struggle became harder when the room around her shook and dust fell from the ceiling. She could hear armed trucks as they drove past but the sound made it feel like they were right over her. Her little brother whined in her mothers hold, but she unconsciously swayed him back to sleep, and there was silence again. Isradeya peeked behind outside the window after carefully lifting the old newspapers that covered it. The effort was worthless since the window itself was painted black except for a small section that revealed a starless night.

"Psst!"

Isradaeya tilted her head back to see her older brother upside down jumping on his heels. Turning around, after setting the newspaper back in place, Isra tiptoed over to her brother and sat next to him inside the small closest. He had a huge grin on his face making her raise an eyebrow in question seeing as he had so many bruises on his face.He sneakily pulled a lighter from behind him and held his other hand next to it as he tried to flick on the flame.

Click click click

Both children froze when they heard their mother shifting on the couch. When the movement came to a halt Isradaeya slowly closed the closet door with a small 'click'. Her brother continued to try and spark a flame and when he finally did both jumped slightly at the sight. The flame softly lit the small space and Isradaeya slowly dragged her eyes along the closet wall, seeing the messy drawings her brother and her, along with kids who lived here before, drew when hiding in here. She brought her gaze back to her brother to already see him staring at her holding a handle, smiling. She watched with curious eyes as he lit the candle and tossed the lighter to the floor before reaching for something else behind him. A few seconds later he pulled out a flat piece of glossy brown that he quickly squashed in his hands to shape into a lump before sticking the candle onto it. After that he carefully held his oddly clean hands out to her

"Happy birthday, Isra." He congratulated quietly.

Isradaeya stared at her brother in surprise as everything began to click together. The reason her brother's face was roughed up was because he stole something from an officer, the reason he was on punishment was because he got caught using water to wash his hands, it was all for her. He stole the candy for her and washed his hands so he could feed it to her without it tasting like dirt. Isradaeya's eyes glossed over at the realization but her quivering lips didn't fail to smile at her brother's dirty face. She closed her eyes and gave a quick yet heartfelt wish before blowing out the candle and despite the darkness her brother carefully navigated the ball of caramel to her mouth. Isradaeya sucke softly on the sweet treatas tears silently fell down her face. Her brother flicked the lighter on, at the first try this time, and smiled at her softly. Taking her hand in his, he squeezed her hand tightly, the dirt transferring over to his hand like ink.

"Thank you." She sniffled quietly.