A Dead Party

Submitted by Aafje Adkins to Contest #1 in response to: Write a story about a birthday party with a major plot twist.... view prompt

“Wait a minute…she wants what kind of a party?” Aaron loved his daughter very much but sometimes she had odd taste. “She really wants some kind of Halloween party or something to that affect.” Nadia, his wife rolled her eyes as she repeated the wish. The couple were getting ready for bed as the discussed the birthday party for their soon to be thirteen-year-old daughter. “It was odd enough when she went through her phase of dressing like Queen Elizabeth I, but she is taking this to a whole new creepy level.” “What do you want from me?” Nadia asked. Aaron just shook his head and tried to find any amount of patience he could muster but something snapped. “I want you to talk to our daughter and convince her to like normal things! At first I thought the famous dead people was just her love of history but it disturbs people!” “Since when have you cared about what other people think of you or your child?” It was a fair question Nadia was asking and since they had always been open and honest with each other without abandon he spat out the reply. “I’ve cared ever since she decided to shave her head!” With that the tough and upbeat exterior that was his wife shattered. As the tears steadily rolled down Nadia’s face, he regretted his outburst and took her into his arms.

The next day they hit up all the cheap places to make party decorations. Nadia was a very creative person and for all of Allie’s birthday parties for the last eleven to twelve years she prided herself knowing that she never had to spend mass amount of money on the big party stores. “She’s been wearing a lot of black lately…” Nadia’s nosey sister Alex came along with them to hunt down finds at The Dollar Tree. Aaron refrained from making any comment at all. After last night he didn’t want to upset his wife any further with this strange birthday party Allie was set on having. “Yeah, she has but I think all black has been a very elegant look on her.” “Oh, come on Nadia, it doesn’t concern you even a little bit that she is dressing in dark colors and showing way too much interest in death?” “It’s just a phase Alex, all teens and pre-teens go through them.” “I suppose so…” Alex trailed off after putting black construction paper and plastic skull head straws into the cart. “I mean with everything going on…I’m surprised this doesn’t concern you even just a tiny bit Sis…” “Alex do I ever tell you how to parent your kids?” Nadia snapped at her high and mighty sister. Alex backed off. “Okay, okay you’re right…so what’s the big surprise art project of this party?” Nadia smiled and got very excited. “I found a bunch of Styrofoam and dark gray spray paint at a great price the other day! It’s perfect for making tomb stones!” Alex tried to smile and mimic Nadia’s enthusiasm. Normally, she didn’t back off that easy after being snapped at. Nadia almost wishes that she hadn’t given up that easily. Alex was right…it was disturbing how into death Allie was becoming…

“Hey Al, why don’t you give me a hand with some of these invitations.” Allie perked her head in the direction her mother’s voice came from. “Sorry, what did you say mom? Were you talking to me?” Nadia shook her head in exasperation as her only daughter took out her head phones. “Look, this is your party and I said I would do most of the planning for you but you need to show a little bit of an interest here.” Allie scratched her shaved dome and sheepishly wandered over to the little table Nadia sat at. “Mom, I told you I only want Devon and Myra there. Then just the family for the rest.” Nadia was about to start yet another argument with her adolescent daughter when her own mother’s words echoed in her mind. Just give the girl what she wants Nadia. It’s her day! She has also been through a lot! No argument there. Allie had already been through so much at a young age.

Two days before the party Nadia and Aaron sat at the kitchen table going through pictures and reminiscing. “I know every parent says this, but she really was a beautiful baby” Aaron smiled and held up a picture of Allie in the baby pool at six months. Nadia smiled and took the picture from Aaron. “She really was. Remember when she was born and she had all that dark hair? I was completely taken aback by that, I thought I had given birth to a full-grown child!” “I had honestly thought you were going to have panic attack right after she arrived! You looked completely panicked!” Nadia’s face turned from smiling and laughing to heavy and sad. She picked up another picture of Allie at age four. “Wasn’t that the day they told us the news? Aaron asked as he stared at the picture of his sleepy little girl cuddled next to Nadia on the couch. “I think it was. I was more panicked that day then I was the day her hairy self came into the world…” “You don’t always have to do that you know? You don’t always have to wear an upbeat and strong façade.”  “That’s where you’re wrong, Aaron.”

Nadia walked into her daughter’s hospital room. When Allie was first diagnosed and she knew they were about to embark on long hospital stays the weirdest thoughts crept into her mind. Good thing I went to school for interior design and party planning because I’m going to make this room look amazing! That was the first thought that came into her mind and it was still the first thought that came to mind anytime Allie got another room. This time the room was going to be decorated for Allie’s incredibly morbid party.

“Mom, did you really make a fake tomb stone with my name on it? That’s a bit much even for me.” “Well sweetheart, when my daughter asks for a horrifying Halloween theme—and in April no less—I go all out.” Nadia turns away so that Allie doesn’t see her tears. Allie has always had a flare with ironic and a morbid sense of humor. If she was a thirteen-year-old kid battling cancer she also would try to find the funny in it. That’s how Nadia is and Allie clearly got that from her. However, with this last treatment and being back in the hospital for another however many months it was no longer even a little funny to Nadia. She wipes away a tear from her face when her daughter’s cold hands wrap around her waist. “You know that I’m joking right, mom? I mean with all of this stuff?” Nadia’s small tears turn into sobs. “I sure hope so…be serious with me for a second here honey, are you staying positive? The doctors say that besides the treatments it’s the best thing to be is positive. All of this…” She glances around the room, it’s one of the best that she’s ever done. “All of this is just your weird sense of humor, right?” “I am being positive mom. It’s funny to me because I’m going to beat this just as I always have! I’m basically trying to mock death and spit in his face because once again, he’s not going to get me!” As tired and emotional as she feels Nadia has to laugh. She loves her positive and strange little girl.

“I’m actually kind of glad all she wanted was just her two best friends and the grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins. Can you imagine if we had invited her entire class?” Aaron was refilling his glass of “Blood punch” which was really Hawaiian fruit punch they got at the supermarket and Nadia found a way to turn ice cubes into floating eyeballs. “Well this alone is over the limit for the hospital. It’s a good thing her doctors and staff love her so much or else there would have been no way to pull this off.” Nadia and Aaron looked around and admired their work. Nadia got permission to run a fog machine and they made the room as dark as they could get it to give a spooky Halloween vibe. They set up a small table of fruit punch with ice eyeballs, caramel apples in the shapes of skulls, and simple PB&J sandwiches cut to look like jack o lanterns. Nadia handmade all the grave stones and flying bats. To make it extra special she wrapped skull lights around Allie’s hospital bed.  Aaron wrapped an arm around her shoulders and they smiled at the happy little family scene going on. “She’s going to be fine, I’m sure of it. The doctors said there would be no reason for the treatment not to be successful.” They were both feeling happy and hopeful until doctor Zimmern approached from behind them. “Can I talk to you both outside for a second?” Nadia’s heart fell into her stomach. There was no way he was delivering good news based on the look he was wearing.

“I love you, Allie but this is ridiculous. Aren’t you afraid that this could be like, I don’t know some kind of bad omen or something?” Allie laughed so hard that bloody punch came out of her nose. “Or that! It actually looks like you’re bleeding and that could just as well be some kind of like sign!” “Okay, Devon, I love you but no this is not some kind of ‘omen’ as you’re making it out to be. I just have a flare for the dramatic.” Myra handed her some napkins and smiled. She was normally the quieter one amongst the three girls. “Friends forever, right?” “Duh, friends forever!” Devon pulled both girls in for a hug. “Till the day we die?” “Stop it Allie!” Allie started laughing again and looked around the room. Everyone appeared to be having a great time. All around her were smiles. Then she heard a loud sob and looked over in her parent’s direction. They were talking with her doctor who was not laughing let alone smiling. Allie felt tired and defeated all of a sudden. Myra and Devon looked at Allie and waited for a reaction. “Well…enjoy…because it looks like this is my last birthday party.”

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