Time for another Odd Trio prompt: write a post about any topic you want, in whatever form or genre, but make sure it features a slice of cake, a pair of flip-flops, and someone old and wise.
A lot of great things happened the day I turned eight. It was a time when I worried less about boys and school, and more about making Mom and Dad laugh and carrying the basket of eggs carefully enough to leave each one without a crack. Not once did I ever actually make it to the house without gooey yolk dripping out of the basket, but I tried nonetheless.
I ran into my grandmother’s house laughing, despite hearing the second egg crack. What was that amazing smell? My mother scolded me and took the basket away before I could do any more damage, and the instant she did I was off and running again, trying to find Dad. I heard him before I saw him; I always did. At the end of the long dinner table, he sat smiling and talking with Grandma. As soon as he caught my eye, he paused and prepared himself while I ran right up to him and jumped in his lap. My flip-flops flew off my feet, but I left them lying on the floor in disarray. I rarely wore shoes on Grandma’s farm. Besides the dog and chicken poo that littered the yard, what was there to step in? Nothing dangerous, so it didn’t matter.
Dad started bouncing me on his lap, up and down, but he stopped with a sudden “Oh,” and lifted me high in the air before sitting me down where he had just been. He whispered something to Grandma with a wink aimed at me, and rushed into the living room, closing the door behind him.
“How are you?” Grandma asked me politely. She spoke to everyone in the same kind and gentle voice. I think that’s what I loved best about her.
“I’m doing great, Granny, just great,” I said with a grin, still jumping up and down in my chair, even without Dad. “Hey Granny, did you know it’s my birthday today?”
“It is?” she said, her smile widening. “How wonderful! Did your parents get you a present?”
I gave the air another sniff and gasped in surprise and joy. That amazing smell was back and even stronger than before. “Mom baked a cake!”
Dad came back into the dining room, one hand held behind his back. “That’s not all you get today, hon,” he said, and revealed a little box wrapped in colorful paper with a delicate red ribbon painstakingly tied and curled. I had forgotten how much I like presents! I reached up and took the little box gently, giving it a tiny shake for any hint of what was inside. Something clunked.
A call came from the kitchen. Dad’s assistance was needed, Mom said, so in a flash it was just me and Grandma at the table again.
“Don’t open that present!” Dad called from the kitchen.
I gave the box another shake. It was light, whatever it was, and I simply could not wait to open it. Grandma could see that, and quickly tried to distract me.
“So,” she started, leading my attention away from the little red ribbon. “Siena, I have some advice for you, since you’re such a big girl now.” I sat up nice and straight and waited for my big girl advice. “How much do you love your parents?”
“Very much!” I answered instantly, jumping up a little to add emphasis. “I tell them all the time.”
“That’s good,” Grandma said. “Always tell your parents how much you love them, especially when you really mean it.”
“But when would I not really mean it, Grandma?”
“Well, when big girls like you grow up, they don’t tell their parents how much they love them as much as they should. Sometimes they forget, sometimes they just don’t want to for whatever reason. You will always love your parents; I know that. So tell them that as often as you can.”
“I will, Grandma.” But when would I not mean it?
Suddenly, the lights went out. Was there a power outage? No, silly, I thought to myself as I saw the glow of candlelight approaching from the kitchen. Time for some singing. Dad came in belting out the Happy Birthday song, way off key as per usual, with Mom trailing behind, carrying the cake. Chocolate. My favorite.
By the time the cake reached the table, the candles were starting to make puddles on the homemade frosting, so I had to make a wish real quick. I knew what it was already, so I spelled it all out in my head and blew out all nine candles (one extra for luck) in one big breath. Next came cutting the cake. This was pretty exciting since Mom always somehow added a little surprise to each of her birthday cakes. Last year it was whole strawberries baked inside the cake (while surprising, it wasn’t necessarily appetizing). This year it was the homemade raspberry jam that I had helped Mom make. I recognized that smell all the way from the kitchen. As she heaped a slice of the cake onto my plate, the jam came dripping out from the middle, drawing a tiny purple smile. Definitely better than fresh strawberries.
The cake disappeared faster than I thought possible, Dad laughing though chocolate-covered teeth as Grandma helped herself to a third slice. Mom smiled proudly at her hard work, and compliments continued all throughout dessert time. Finally, when we could eat no more, Mom, Dad, and Grandma crowded around as I opened that little box wrapped in red ribbon. Inside were a pair of tiny golden earrings, each one in the shape of a heart. “Oo’s” and “Ah’s” went all around the table, and I put them on, nearly poking another hole in each ear from jumping around on a sugar high. “Too much cake,” the adults agreed.
It wasn’t long before Mom, Dad, and I were in the car on the way home, driving through the starry night in the countryside. I always loved the drive back from Granny’s more than the drive there because of those stars. Dad said there were billions of stars out there, and on those drives back, I believed him.
“Siena,” Dad called back to me, holding his hand out palm-up like he always did on car rides. I took his hand. “What did you wish for?”
“Can’t, Daddy. It’s a secret!”
“You can tell us, don’t worry. We won’t tell anyone.”
I leaned forward. If the wish was about them, did it count? Nah.
“I wished that I would never forget to tell you guys how much I love you.”
Silence in the car. No one spoke, and Dad gave my hand a little squeeze. Did I say something wrong?
“That’s so nice, hon,” Dad said. Suddenly, Mom started to laugh. She started to laugh and she could not stop, and the whole situation was starting to freak me out a little bit.
“What’s wrong, Mom; what did I say?” I asked. She stifled her giggles for a few seconds to look back at me and flash me a wide grin.
“Nothing’s wrong, sweetie,” she said. “It’s just that I’m going to be reminding you of this moment in five years, and you’d better remember it.”
“Why, Mom? What’s in five years?”
Dad started to laugh too. He got it. I didn’t.
“You become a teenager,” she said.