My friend says we should go out, see a movie and celebrate. But I have no money to facilitate the cost of my ticket, let alone dinner. He offers to pay for everything. My mind tells me the words aren’t genuine, that he made the offer to be polite and he’d rather be elsewhere — he had better things to do, to spend money on.
“LOSER,” it screams. “WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU?”
My father brings home a cake. It is too dense, too rich, and too dark a chocolate — the same cake shared at our table weeks ago. My mind tells me he doesn’t care. He went out of his way to pick up a cake when on nightshift, taking time out of his sleep schedule. It tells me I am petty for even thinking of complaining. I hug him with a wide smile. But later, he reads my face and repeatedly asks me what is wrong. I desperately try to inform him politely: I had asked them early in the month for a cheesecake.
“We thought you said you liked this cake!” he replies, his eyes wide and his shoulders falling.
It takes me moments to realise they’d heard my aunts comment about the cake and confused her for me. Typical, my mind tells me. I’m unable to finish the small piece I cut for myself after dinner.
“HOW DARE YOU BE UNGRATEFUL,” it screams. “YOU ARE A MONSTER.”
My mother sits with me. We talk about the efforts made over the years for these kinds of things. She says I need more initiative, that I didn’t ask for anything. But she notices my pause and demands to know what’s wrong. I gather the courage to tell her I did ask for something. She covers her eyes with her hand and swears to herself. Later, she claims to have found money she “knew” she was saving for me, and shoves it into my hand while tears forming in my eyes. My mind reads my mother’s voice as sarcastic. It labels her as a liar giving me a bribe to quell me, that she doesn’t want to hear of my woes. What I asked for was too much, and this money was meant to be for something important — not me.
“YOU ARE WASTING THAT OF WHICH THEY NEED,” it screams.
The house falls asleep once more, and I am left to the mercy of myself. I am berated by a dark cloud for daring to even ask for things. “YOU’RE MAKING THEM FEEL GUILTY FOR SOMETHING INSIGNIFICANT.”
My voice is cracking, trying to speak over the chorus of mismatched shouts trying to tear me apart. My fingers are stained with my tears as I try to consolidate their words. “I just wanted to have a happy birthday.”