Best Birthday Ever
"As you grow older you will discover that the most important
happen to you will often
as a result of silly things."
Potok's- The Chosen
they would all look back on how it could not have happened
a string of events that at the time had bothered each of them.
evening it came to pass...
felt guilty for having to back out of her promise to wrap Beth's
birthday presents on behalf of her gift-wrapping
husband. But little Annabelle's chicken pox kept mother
child tucked away at Willowveil Castle...
regretted that due to an assignment in a little French
village that had went on far longer than he'd anticipated, he'd
the time he'd meant to spend choosing a present for Beth.
finally free, Andrew's gaze had settled on some beautiful
wildflowers. He recalled Beth's glowing smile when
he'd delivered the humble bouquet around noon but was
still wishing he had something less transient for his
part, Beth was thoroughly disgusted that Mick couldn't pull
together enough to wrap her presents until the very evening
birthday, stalling their plans...
Mick was simply annoyed with the ribbons and the tape and the
scissors and the paper...
his materials out on the island in the kitchen. He growled
the paper he tried to cut wound up with a ragged edge. The
gift looked pitiful. Frustrated, his movements grew sloppier
while cutting the paper in which he intended to wrap a
the vampire's left hand struck the scissors.
all!" he shouted, staring at the cut across his palm and the
blood oozing from it. He knew the cut would heal within
seconds but in the meantime he was dripping blood onto the
paper below. His wife was ticked enough at his
procrastination without him handing her jewelry crudely wrapped in
blood stained paper. Mick ran to the counter to grab
paper towels but on his return, his foot hit a spot of blood and
began to lose his balance. Teetering, he clamored for
to grab onto.
the noise of something sliding. Then in the same instant he
the floor came the sound of shattering glass. Mick groaned
slowly sat up.
he muttered, surveying the damage.
the floor around him were the remains of a crystal vase and
flowers Andrew had brought Beth. Even worse, it had been a
the flowers he had uselessly grabbed onto. Those blossoms
ruined, crushed in his hand. He was so focused on
the wrecked gift and how their destruction would hurt Beth
didn't notice that something very strange was happening. It
only when he released the flowers and reached for the broken
that he saw it.
trickle of blood hadn't eased. If anything, he was bleeding
God..." he murmured as he held his hand in front of him and stared
it. A hope he hadn't felt for years began to stir in him.
What happened?! I heard a crash!" Beth exclaimed, running
the kitchen. "Good lord!" she cried. She
the discarded paper, drops of blood, shattered glass, crushed
and in the midst of it all her husband was kneeling on the ground
staring at his bloodied hand. He looked up at her, pale and
confused. She wouldn't have given him such a hard time about
wrapping her presents if she'd known the ordeal it would bring
about! "Oh, Mick... It's okay." She smiled
at him and kissed his hair. "My delicate flower," she teased
before grabbing a dustpan and setting to work sweeping up the
saving the blooms which were still whole. When she put what
remained of Andrew's gift in another vase, she turned and saw her
husband was still frozen. And then, at last, she realized
had him so transfixed.
crouched near him and took his unharmed hand in hers. She
he was shaking. "M-mick... did you just recut that
was wrapping and the scissors..."
that happened before I came in here?" Beth took her eyes off
dripping wound just long enough to gauge her husband's emotional
tears beginning to pool in his eyes.
took me at least three minutes to clean up... so that...
been bleeding for at least three minutes. Usually... I
I've seen you cut yourself when you're shaving... the nick...
it just disappears in the blink of an eye. I... I've
stake wounds close in seconds... But that... that's
bleeding... a lot. Like... you need stitches
bleeding." Beth was dazed. It seemed like a
dream she'd had so many times. A dream she knew they both
I think I might need them. But first..." Still
Mick managed to get to his feet. He grabbed a towel and
Beth's help wrapped it tightly around his left hand. Then he
turned to the refrigerator. He paid no attention to the
of blood on the top shelf. Instead, he eyed the assorted
the second shelf: "the human's shelf" they jokingly called
afraid their wild hopes would be disproved in a moment, Mick tried
open a carton of leftover Chinese food with only his right
Beth drew near and helped him, producing a fork from a nearby
watched her husband load up the fork. It seemed to take an
agonizingly long time. She was tempted to grab a handful and
shove it in his face. But then it occurred to her: it had
years since Mick had reason to use eating utensils. He
time to reaccustom himself. She waited patiently, holding
breath as he finally took his first bite of sweet and sour
chicken. She studied his face as he chewed then swallowed.
stared into the carton, picking at the remainder with the
He wrinkled his nose.
heart sank. He hadn't tasted anything. He wasn't
pierced a vegetable with his fork and lifted it out of the carton
show his wife. "I forgot how much I hate green
grinned before adding, "but this chicken tastes great."
shrieked giddily and cradled Mick's face in her hands.
kissed her forehead. "It sure seems that way." He
his left hand, pointing out that the blood was beginning to seep
through the towel. "We may want to do something about this."
laughed. It was an odd feeling being elated by an open wound
someone she loved. Odder still when he was smiling at her
such glee. "Yeah, that would probably be a good idea," she
finally choked out. She kissed him and ran off to fetch
a moment, Mick lifted his eyes and uttered two words: "Thank
You." He gathered up the carton, the fork, and another towel
moved towards the front door where Beth was waiting, murmuring her
prayer of thanksgiving. Their eyes met and they grinned at
never thought I'd be so happy to spend my birthday at the
Beth said as she held the door open.
chuckled as he stepped into the hall. "Yeah, I guess I'll
make this up to you big time. Would you be available for
tomorrow, Mrs. St. John? A real dinner? For... for
choked back a sob and nodded. It would be the first time she
Mick had ever truly shared dinner. "I would love that,
a date. As for tonight... I know you have rules
about no food in your car but what do you say we live
dangerously and split this on the way?" He held out the
leftovers. "You can have all the green beans."
his wife nodded. "I suppose I can make an exception just
grinned and hugged her as they entered the elevator. "Happy
rested her head on his chest as the doors closed. A new
happiness shot through her. His heart was beating.
birthday to you, too, Mick," she murmured. "I love you."
reborn human smiled and buried his face in her hair. "I love
too," he replied with a contented sigh. It truly was the
birthday he'd ever known.
"'Weeks passed, and the little
Rabbit grew very old
and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much,'" Andrew read to
little girl resting in his lap. "'He loved him so hard that
loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned
grey, and his brown spots faded.'"
"Poor bunny," Annabelle cooed,
illustration in the book. "Daddy, bunny's go like
Andrew smiled as his splotchy
daughter scrunched up
and wiggled her nose in imitation of a rabbit. Next thing he
knew, she was off his lap and hopping about the room. He
chuckled, grateful that he'd offered to take Belle to his old
place after his last
assignment of the day so JenniAnn could at last get some
sleep. Regardless of the discomfort the chicken pox were
it was obvious the virus had done little to diminish the
energy level. "You're an absolutely adorable bunny, kiddo,"
"I even have spots!"
Annabelle pointed out some
of her pox then began scratching at them.
"Belle, try not to do that,
make them sore. Here." Andrew knelt beside her and
some calamine on her arms. He was finishing when the phone
rang. "Let me get that and we'll get back to our story,
The little girl nodded and sat
down to pet Lulu while
her father took the phone into the kitchen.
Andrew was surprised when the
caller ID revealed Beth
as the caller. He hadn't expected her to take time out of
birthday celebration with Mick to call, especially when they'd
earlier. "Hey Beth, happy birthday again. What's going
Andrew blinked as he took in
what the ecstatic woman
on the other end was saying. A kitchen accident. A
cut. Mick was waiting to get stitched up. Cured.
vital signs were perfectly normal... for a human.
He'd eaten. Actually eaten. He had a heartbeat.
Cured. She kept saying the word over and
Then she launched into a stream of gratitude about her birthday
The angel of death raised an eye
Beth and Mick had prayed for unceasingly over the years
apparently come to pass and all Beth could think to express
gratitude for was a bunch of hastily picked flowers?
"Andrew, did those flowers come
from France, by
chance?" the woman asked.
"Yeah, they did come from France
but I don't
understand... I mean Mick's cure is a whole lot bigger of a deal,
Beth!" Andrew exclaimed.
He heard Beth draw in a deep
breath over the
line. "Andrew, you don't understand. Those flowers are
cure. When Mick cut himself, he inadvertently grabbed onto
and crushed them into the wound. Coraline had said the cure
from a rare wildflower in France. That's... that's why we'd
over there every so often. To search, to hope. But we
found it but you... you did. Andrew, *you* cured Mick."
The angel gasped. Stunned,
he sat down on the
floor, bracing himself against the counter. "Thank You,
Mick's voice broke through on
"Believe me, He's heard that from us, too."
Before he could respond, Andrew
heard some commotion
on the other end of the line.
"Andrew, I have to go.
They're here to do the
"Okay. Mick, I'm very
happy for you."
"We're very happy, too.
Andrew, before I go I...
we... just want to say... thank you. For being a part
this. Maybe later this week I could swing by to try some of
orange juice and ginger ale concoction you drink? I've only
hearing about it for a decade."
Andrew chuckled. "Yeah,
great. Good bye."
After the couple shouted
their farewells back, a
dazed Andrew continued to hold the phone. He only realized
were tears splashing down his cheeks when Annabelle entered.
"Daddy! Don't be
wrong?" She threw her arms around him.
Andrew smiled at the little girl
and returned her
hug. "It's alright, Belle. I'm not sad at all.
Sometimes people cry when they're happy."
"Something good happened?"
"Very good. To Mick and
"What happened?!" Belle asked,
Andrew paused. They'd kept
the truth about Mick
away from the little girl at his request so he wasn't sure how to
explain to her what had come to pass that night. After a
he settled on the truest answer. "A miracle happened,
Belle. A miracle from God."
"Good! A miracle, a
miracle, a miracle,"
Annabelle chanted as she danced around.
The angel beamed at her and
tousled her hair before
joining in her celebratory dance, thanking the Father with each
and feeling immense happiness for his friends.
The End... for now
Andrew was reading "The Velveteen Rabbit" so
where the story quote comes from. I really had intended for
cure to surface in some big, dramatic way. But that Chaim
quote has always seemed so true to me. So it seemed totally
believable to me that in the end the cure would just come down to
sick kid, work rush, and procrastination.
"Moonlight," Coraline told Mick that the cure came
from a concoction made with a rare flower in France that you
an open wound. But I got to thinking: what if she
What if the flower was the full cure but she diluted it and made
only temporary so she could dangle the full-blown cure over Mick's
head? So I went with that.
ETA 7-20-14: In the original version, Annabelle was consistently
referred to as that and Andrew as "Uncle Rew." The problem
with flash forwards is one doesn't exactly know how things will
evolve. So now "Uncle Rew" is Daddy" and some Annabelles
have been swapped for Belles.