Wednesday, October 2, 2013
“Happy birthday to yooou – and you, and you; happy birthday to yooou – all three of yooouuuu; happy BIRTHday, dear Malleri-Teri-and-Alexaaaa! Happy birthday to yooou – and you, and yoooou!”
Alexa Reid smothers a grin by passing a hand over her mouth. Seventeen years in and Dad still can't carry a tune, she smirks to herself. One glance at the twitching corners of her sisters' lips, and she knows they are all sharing the exact same thought.
As triplets, the Reid sisters have often shared similar ideas and emotions, but while they've always been very close – closer than most siblings – the three girls are quite different in looks and personality. Having raised them alone after their mother died during childbirth, their father, Peter, has always been very adamant about fostering each of his daughters' individuality, even to the point of having them attend different schools much of the time. He can be strict, Alexa knows, and he has some very specific rules that are not up for discussion, but he loves them each with everything he has, and does whatever is necessary to keep his family feeling close, safe and happy.
Now, celebrating their 17th birthday, all three girls are looking forward – with varied emotions – to embarking on their final year of high school in just under a week. Their father seems less enthusiastic, but he always seems to get nervous around the beginning of a new school year. Alexa assumes that it had something to do with him being a teacher himself. A professor, she corrects herself, he's a professor now. Dr. Peter Reid took on a long term contract with a local city college in Toronto about a year and a half ago which, for the girls, means that they can attend the same schools this year as they had last year – a rare occurrence in their academic careers that adds even more fuel to their excitement for the upcoming school year.
For Alexa, another year in a public high school means even more, however. It means she'll finally be able to spend more time with her boyfriend, Marc. Her very secret boyfriend, Marc. No one in her family even suspects that he exists, despite the fact that it about killed her to go without seeing him all summer long. Finally, though, the time when she and Marc can be together again is drawing very near, and Alexa can feel her excitement growing with each passing day. Not for the first time, Alexa wishes that she could have spent her birthday alone with Marc, but knowing how her father would react if he knew she was in a serious relationship quickly dispels any notion Alexa has of ever mentioning Marc's name in mixed company. Still, a girl can dream.
I'm sure he'll text me at some point today, anyway, she smiles to herself.
“Come on, ladies,” Dad cries with the same level of enthusiasm he'd used when singing 'Happy Birthday', “blow out your candles, already! You know the drill! Let's go! Mallie, you're up first this year.”
“Please don't call me that,” Malleri sighs in phony irritation. “And are we seriously still doing this?”
“Yeah,” Teri chimes in, “aren't we getting a little old for this whole candle ritual?”
“Impossible!” Dad exclaims with a grin. “Especially not when we're so close to a balanced year! Now blow!”
“That's what he said,” Alexa mutters under her breath, smiling as her sisters dissolve into laughter.
“Hey!” Dad snaps while failing to stifle his own chuckle. “None of that, now! Come on, Mal, they're melting!” Malleri lets out another heavy sigh and one of the candles puffs out.
“Ack,” she cries, dismayed. “I wasn't ready!”
“Too bad,” Dad laughs. “Lex, you're up!” Alexa chooses one of the remaining 16 lit candles and quickly blows it out before stepping back to let Teri have her turn. Every birthday since they'd turned three years of age, their father had insisted that they each take turns blowing out one candle at a time until they'd reached a multiple of three, and then they'd blow out whichever ones were left together. As kids, it had just been fun on its own, since the more candles there were on the cake, the harder it became to just blow one out. As they grew older, however, the sisters began trying to create a pattern in the candles that they were blowing out and, if there were two remaining, they'd tried to leave a split to divide the candles that were left and see if they could still get them blown out in one go, even if they all took a step back from the cake to do so. On what Dad referred to as a “balanced” year, each girl had the same number of candles to blow out, and they always tried to get just theirs out in one breath, while leaving the rest still lit for the other two. It's the little things, Alexa decides as she bends to blow out another candle for her turn.
Once all of the candles are out, Teri goes to the kitchen to grab plates while Dad makes a pile of melted wax out of the stubs that are left.
“You girls were slow this year,” Dad observes. “At this rate I'll have to just ice the cake with candle wax by the time you turn twenty-one!”
“Ugh, we are NOT still doing this when we are twenty-one, Father!” Malleri wrinkles her nose in disgust. “After next year, it's done! Kind of a gay tradition, anyway.”
“Hey,” Dad frowns, “what have I said to you about using that kind of language?”
“You said, 'don't',” Malleri concedes, “but...”
“Exactly,” Dad cuts in, satisfied.
“BUT,” Malleri continues, “when someone actually IS gay, we can say it all we want, however we want. Take back the power of the word, you know?”
“Oh really?” Dad has turned on his most skeptical voice now.
“Yes,” Malleri insists. “Everyone does it! It's like how black guys are always calling one another n-”
“Plates!” Teri pushes herself between her father and sister, effectively cutting both off from saying anything further. “Let's eat!”
Posted by Sue A. Maynard - Author, Carving The Light at 3:14 PM