Birthday Wishes

Prompt image for the Fandango's Flash Fiction prompt

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #179, based on the image below from Pandit Wiguna at Pexels.

Maddie was numb as she said her goodbyes to Brenda. What would she tell Donald?

Twenty years’ service, for fuck’s sake. And they pick today to fire her. On her day off. By fucking text message. “Don’t come in Monday.” Bastards. So much for loyalty. Sure, there had been rumours. But Lizzie had assured her that she was indispensable.

On autopilot she sat behind the wheel of her olive-green Volvo, just last year’s model. As she fired the engine into life, it occurred to her that if she couldn’t find something soon, this might have to be the first to go.

Monday, she resolved as she queued to leave the mall. She’d give it the weekend to sink in, then would start looking Monday.

What about her singing lessons? Or that embroidery retreat she just booked? She’d have to see it they’d let her cancel, she concluded as she made a right onto Pollard Avenue.

Leona and George flashed into her mind. Now both in their teens, each had their own circle of friends. Each had their wants and needs. Each had their fucking expenses. They’d have to tighten their belts, that’s all.

She signalled left to turn onto Beechwood. She was fortunate, really, that she was on the home strait. In truth, so much was spinning around her head that she just wanted to get home. – her cosy little house sat proudly in her quiet little development just a mile or so down here. Maybe, just maybe, she did break a limit or two on the way, but home was where she felt safe, and the sooner she arrived, the better.

“Daddy, daddy”, Leona had obviously been watching for him to arrive home. Manu couldn’t really blame her excitement. Her ninth birthday. Her first bike. Having not long moved into this quiet neighbourhood, this was the first time they felt safe enough to let her loose on the road. Yes, he reflected, there was lots to be excited about. He opened the window to greet the baying child.

“You promised, Daddy. You said when you got home from work…”

“All right, Leona, calm down. I have to get changed, then mum and I will come out and we can watch you ride. While I’m inside, I want you to take all the ribbons off it so you can ride it properly. They had decorated the bike when that morning, they had presented Leona with her present, but had forbidden her to ride it until they were both home from work.

Twenty minutes later, Leona’s impatience finally paid off. Leading her into the quiet cul-de-sac just across Beechwood, the girl was surprised how easy this was. Of course, Manu knew that the stabilizers helped, that it would not be so easy when they were removed, but he was pleased that she was doing well so far.

“Try to ride up to that red car, then come back here”, encouraged Manu. But Leona was better than that. Exhilarated, she kept going past the car. No, she would ride all the way to their house and back! This was like having wings!

As she pedalled across the intersection, Leona didn’t see the Volvo.


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