My mother turns to go into the kitchen. She gently pushes me towards my classmates, encouraging me to be a part of the crowd. I am not like them. I want to go hide in my room, tucked into the wooden cube, reading. I don't like running and screaming. I like to be quiet, alone with my thoughts, or with the characters in the books I read. I feel old. I don't feel five.
I wish I could have the bouncing, blonde pigtails. I wish I could laugh and play so easily with others.
I don't know why I'm different.
My mother walks slowly out of the kitchen, candles burning brightly on the cake she's carrying. She sings, and the other children sing. I am uncomfortable. I am the center of attention, and I hurriedly blow out the candles. Within seconds, eyes are focused on colorful frosting and melting ice cream, and I am soon left within my imagination again.
Not even minutes pass, it seems, before the house is filled with big people and little people, and the combined energy makes me want to hide underneath the piano cover. I am seated in a big circle, and all the eyes are looking at me again as I open the prettily wrapped gifts. I try to go as fast as I can, and I try to remember to put on a sweet smile as I thank everyone for their books and toys and sweater sets. I want so much to please everyone.
I am not myself at these times.
I try to become the bouncing, blonde girl on the inside. This makes it easier.
At last, the big people take the little people and leave. The house is quiet again. The energy slowly dissipates, and I feel calmer. I help my mother clean up the piles of shiny wrapping paper and big bows. I sneak another taste of the sugary frosting before she turns around. I will later stick my tongue out in the mirror and giggle at the blueness that I see.
I am alone again.
I am me again.
Marian from Runaway Sentence chose this week's prompt. Emma Donoghue's "Room" .