contest image thumb Another Birthday Party at Chuck E. Cheese
Robert Bradshaw

Mom's stuck two bushes over my eyebrows
and hidden me behind fake glasses
as if she wishes I was someone else's kid. Jeffrey's
been tooting 'Happy Birthday' with his farts
and twisting balloons into obscene shapes.
But his talents don't make up for my loss.
Where's my pile of presents? My friends are freeloaders.
Smile, Mom says. A light pops. She sighs
as if remembering her first kiss with Dad,
before he left us on the side of the freeway.
We stood there, like abandoned kittens.
Had Dad left because of me? Enjoy your youth,
Mom says. It doesn't get any better.

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