“Happy Birthday, Grandma!”
The old living room smelled of new paint and was filled with a cacophony and commotion of children and adults whom she barely recognized. She sat in the family heirloom wingback chair, which the daughter-in-law had recently reupholstered with the “candy apple” cover.
She missed her husband, her children’s father, who had passed away years earlier. She thought of her friends, who were either dead also or deferring it in nursing homes somewhere.
The vanilla cake melting with a candle flare approached her.
“Make a wish,” someone patted her shoulder.
She turned to look who it was, but it was too dark to see.
“Blow out the candle, Grandma!”
She puffed. The glow swayed, flickering.
“Come on, Grandma. I’ll help ya.” A boy shoved himself through the crowd and thrust his face in front of the cake.
“We’ll all help.”
While she stared at them, agape with perplexity, her children, their spouses, and their children closed in on her and breathed on the candle, smothering the flame.