Birthday

David opened the window to his one-bedroom apartment. It was a cold and foggy November morning. The sun had not come up yet. The streets were mostly silent, with only a car or two passing by.

David turned on the gas and put the kettle on. While waiting for the water to boil, he prepared his teabags and lighted a cigarette, while leaning on the window, looking down to the streets below. He remembered he hadn’t read yesterday’s newspaper, and he always liked to read it while drinking his tea. His eyes fell on the Obituaries. He read the text again. “Yes, that’s him…”

“Yes? Oh, hi Jimmy… Thanks for the call, I know you’re very busy… Yeah… Three-quarters of a century… Yeah, I’m officially old, ha-ha… Speaking of old, you remember Harry Wilson, don’t you? You know, our old neighbor, back when we lived in the suburbs, the one your mother hated… He’s dead. They’ve already buried him. He was about my age. Anyway, I don’t want to ruin your morning or anything. It’s good to hear your voice, Jimmy. How are you? How’s Susan, and my grand-kids? Yes, I know you’re busy. Okay, I’ll talk to you later, Jimmy.”

As he put the phone down, David’s eyes caught a glimpse of a photograph on the wall. He turned his head and looked at it. “Hey, Rachel, you do remember Harry, don’t you?” he said in his mind. “You remember how he used to annoy the hell out of you when he came by, and took me with him to the bar? Back when we were young… Heh-heh… Good ol’ Harry… We used to have a great time… I remember the time when we got so drunk that we fell asleep on the street and the cops dragged us to the station thinking we were homeless. I remember you coming to rescue me. Rachel, my savior… You gave me a real hard time afterwards… Deservedly so. Yeah… We were young… We were just you and me and the kids… God, I miss you, Rachel.” That last sentence he caught himself saying it out loud.

David continued his everyday ritual. He finished his tea, which he had always preferred to coffee, even if Rachel once thought it was a little pretentious. He then went to the bathroom and started shaving. As he looked in the mirror and saw his wrinkled face and white hair, he remembered again his wife. How he made her laugh one time, on his birthday, when he shaved only half his face… That was thirty years ago… Or was it thirty-five? Forty? “Damn it, I wish I could remember exactly” David said to himself. It doesn’t matter though. Nothing really matters anymore these days… Jimmy has his own family… “He doesn’t need me anymore… And maybe that’s a good thing.”

David put on his best suit, just like he did every year, on his birthday. “Just for you, my dear… And maybe for you too, Harry, you bastard.”

“One more grave to visit today…” the old man sighed, and closed the door behind him.

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