April 18

“Did you get yours?” Elizabeth, always the optimist, bubbled with excitement. Seriously, if she had a screw-on cap and a bubble wand, I’m sure she would have been filled with liquid soap. Why now?

“Get what?” I pretended not to know what she was talking about. Of course I knew. We all knew. Sometime around your 13th birthday, you’d get an envelope. They still do all this by hand, with paper, envelopes, and stamps. They should update to email at least, or a text.

“Silly!” She nudged me with one perky elbow. I don’t know how an elbow can be perky, but, you know, it was Elizabeth. “See? I got mine and we have the same birthday, so you should have yours too!”

Elizabeth waved the envelope in my face. If her smile gets any bigger, the top of her head will split off and roll around the floor.

“Yeah, I got mine.” I dropped my gaze and kicked at an imaginary rock.

“Let me see! Look, here’s mine.” She opened the envelope, removed the official card with a date embossed in the center. June 22. The date she would expire. Happy Death Day. From now on, she’d celebrate on June 22, since the fates decreed that is the day she would die. Only problem is no one knows what year it will be; just the date.

“I’m very happy for you.” Deadpan. That’s an interesting word.

“So let me see yours. I showed you mine!” I don’t think she knew what she was saying.

I sighed. No way this bundle of happiness was going to fade away, so I shrugged my backpack from my shoulder and made a big show of digging around to find my envelope. I knew where it was, but I thought Elizabeth would appreciate the suspense.

With a grand gesture I produced the envelope, like a magician holding up a rabbit pulled from an empty top hat.

“Silly! You haven’t even opened it! Here, let me!” She’s right. I hadn’t opened it. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to. It’s just a date, right? Like any other, a month and a day. It doesn’t have to mean anything. The whole thing is totally arbitrary.

She snatched the envelope from my hand and broke the seal before I could complain. “Look, April 18! You got April 18! Oh, that’s tomorrow! Isn’t that exciting? What if it happens tomorrow! How awesome would that be?”

Awesome. Yeah. That would be awesome.