Title: CHANGES - Chapter 9: The Birthday
For my dear addie71 just because ...
Usually Aaron takes a daily little walk at 2 p.m. so it was the perfect time to get things fixed – decorating the table and stuff like this. We watched him intensely the past days so we knew where everything was. Tablecloth, candle holders, the dishes, vases…
Packed like a donkey we were sneaking through the garden. “Do you have a key, Zeke?”
Aaron handed me a key to his house few days ago just in case …
“It’s in my left pocket… Put it out, Case…”
Goodness. When he slipped his fingers into the pocket of my jeans they felt like little snakes crawling along my leg. Breathe, Zeke, breathe!! It lasted a lifetime until he got them out.
I could feel the warmth of his hand on my leg, it felt like he burned a whole into them.
“Here we go. Come in, Zeke. We’ve to hurry…”
Running around like crazy … the table turned out to look great. We got some yellow roses and the flea market this morning, too… Golden glow. “Hmmm… Looks beautiful, Casey.”
And now the cakes. “Where are the cakes, Case?” “I thought you’ll take them? Shit! I’ll hurry, stop him should he be back …” He kissed me as he would leave for months and left.
He’ll kill me some day. I know it for sure.
He was back in less than 5 minutes and put the cakes in the middle of the table.
Now we had to wait. With Lilly in his arms Casey looked out of the window “He’s late, Zeke…” The coffee machine was running, the smell of fresh brewed coffee lingered in the air – Casey and Lilly, what a beautiful image. Fortunately I didn’t forget the camera so a photo was a must. Aaron will love it, me, too…
“He’s coming, Zeke! He’s coming!!! Come on, let’s hide behind the kitchen door..” with this he tugged me to the kitchen, giggling like a little boy, this made it hard suppressing the laughter that was growing up.
Aaron whistled and then we heard nothing. Drop-dead silence besides Casey’s whisper “Is he in?” “Yes…” I whispered in return and felt so girlish. We took a little peek around the corner… Aaron was standing in the middle of his living room … tears were running down his face. Seeing him now, gently touching the roses made my heart ache. “Zeke, do you see this? He’s weeping, oh my god, what have we done. Do you think it was r….” I had to stop him with a little kiss. “It seems he likes it, Casey… We should go now…”
“Happy Birthday, Aaron!” he almost shouted and made him nearly jump out of his skin. Aaron was all smiles and opened his arms. We hugged him tight, this moved me more than I can say. Another time Casey broke the ice. “Take a seat, Aaron. We’ll be of service today. Just to spoil you. Zeke, would you get the coffee, please? No, just wait a little second.”
Then he whispered only for me to hear “my parents will show up, too. They should already be here…”
What? His parents? Good god. Before I could say anything he bounced back to the kitchen to get the cream.
“Zeke, are these strawberry kisses? They look exactly like the ones your grandmother used to make for my birthday…” I realized he hadn’t said anything so far. There it was again, this melancholy feeling … He seemed to be in need for a little cheer-up so I squeezed his hands and he … smiled. A tiny little smile, but it was a smile.
Casey sensed it, too…
“Do you like the cakes, Aaron? Zeke found the recipe in his grandmother’s old baking book. We made them by ourselves last evening. You have to taste them now. Are they good? God, we’ve been so nervous and it took us quite a time to get them ready. Zeke’s kitchen was quite a mess after we finished them.”
He was nearly bursting with pride and now Aaron was roaring with laughter.
“Oh Aaron! We had to do everything twice! The strawberries, the cakes (the first ones tasted like a salt-mine), the gelatine… You should have seen the pink ocean in Zeke’s fridge because the syrup was too syrupy. And the whipped cream. But we liked it a lot, didn’t we, Zeke?” All I could do was joining Aaron in laughing.
If he wouldn’t have had captured my heart before he would’ve captured it now. Completely. That’s why I like him so.
The doorbell! The Connors arrived. I felt … I don’t know how I felt – not THAT comfortable I have to admit.
Mr. and Mrs. C. bid Aaron a heartily birthday (is this really me thinking that way) and Casey was babbling non-stop, Casey-like. Soon we were all chatting, smiling, laughing about experiences, jokes and tricks Aaron gave to his best. I love listening to his stories, as much as I love the people who are involved. He casted a glamour over us. Casey listened attentive cupping his face with his hands, elbow on the table – yes, Aaron is like a grandfather.
Casey’s mom smiled at me “These cakes are sooo cute, Zeke… Casey made quite a secret of them I can tell you. You have to make them for my birthday, too. Promised?” Who would have said no to her. “So tell me something about you, Zeke?”
“Mom!!!! He’s my boyfriend, that’s all you should know..”
Another time the coffee went down the wrong way and I nearly spat it across the table. He WILL kill me sooner or later, probably very soon. Where was the whole I could hide. No word. Nothing. I could feel them staring at me. “Come on, mom. Don’t you do as you didn’t suppose that he’s more than a friend.”
“I’ll do the dishes” – with this I nearly ran out of the room. He could have warned me!
It’s out then. And it’s the truth. I am his boyfriend.
Mr. C. Perfect!
He smiled at me, padded me on the shoulders but I kept quiet.
“You didn’t expect him to be that openhearted, right? It’s ok, Zeke. Casey’s friends are welcome. Though I have to admit I’ll have to get used to a son-in-law…”
What? Son-in-law? We’re not that close… not yet. What the hell did he tell his parents?
“come back in, my wife can’t stop eating those wonderful little cakes, she could die for them…” Dying because of dwarf cakes crossed my mind and I had to chuckle.
Mrs. C. was as talk-active as Casey. Now I know where this comes from.
“Are you mad at me, Zeke?” Casey asked me silently, looking at me with his blue eyes – they pierced me like a laser sword. “No, Casey… Not at all. But I was a little bit shocked…”
“That I’ve called you my boyfriend?”
“No, that you told your parents about it out of the blue…”
He just hugged me tight and I couldn’t move. This touched me, not only physically. Finger-combing his hair, hugging him back gently his eyes were still dancing with excitement and something I couldn’t read.
Then Aaron started his music-box and asked Mrs. C. for a dance. Glen Miller … I won’t buy any of this stuff but it’s lovely. God, Zeke – can you hear yourself, don’t tell anyone about this spot for old fashioned music. They’ll put you into a straitjacket … and not only because of this.
OK then, I asked Casey for a dance and he agreed (why didn’t I think about this!) – soon we were swaying to the music, he was leaning into my touch, following the lead. It felt awesome. It was too hot inside, much too hot. He’s built some muscles, seems to be stronger that I expected him to be. “You smell like strawberries, Zeke…”
“Maybe it’s because I had some, Casey?”
“I love strawberries almost best…”
“You know what I’d love most, don’t you Zeeeeke…” the way he was purring my name into my ear made me shiver. My ears felt hot, ok, not only my ears.
But I played Mr. Verginity. What else could I do…
“Strawberry kissssssesssss, Zeeeeeke… Hmmmm…”
He IS killing me and he’s really hard working on it. With success I bet.
He was flirting with me under the eyes of his parents. Daring, unwavering, bold. Such a sweet little devil. He didn’t seem to care, so why should I? Our faces were close, very very close…
Holy Mother Mary! “Zeeeeeke!” Next killer scene! “The gift! We forgot the gift!”
Like a blizzard he weaselled out of the room to get the sign.
“Aaron. Zeke and I got you a little gift this morning…”
Aaron was surprised, embarrassed, too.
He stared at the sign for a very long time, touched it gently, again he started weeping – then he hugged me close, very close and very hard. Casey, too.
“Where did you find that, boys? It’s incredible. You have no clue what this means to me.
I can’t thank you enough! You made me happy, so very happy!”
All because of a sign? A simply little wooden sign? This is more than confusing.
“Aaron, are you ok?” I was concerned, he looked exhausted and pale and very old now.
He smiled in tears, replying with shaking voice “I’m more than ok, Zeke. You should know there’s a story behind this sign. A wonderful story, you may call it the story of my life…”
“You should read your grandma’s letters. Then you’ll understand. But now, let’s go on with the dancing or we just could sit and talk a little more.”
It was hard to push the “don’t-think-about-reading-the-letters-n
At 7 p.m. the party was over, Aaron seemed to be very tired and worn out. The Connors left first, few minutes later Casey and I hugged him good-bye.
“Thank you so much, boys. It’s one of these days I’ll call a jewel, a day I’ll always remember.”
On our short way back home I thought of my grandma. I’m sure she’d have enjoyed the party as much as Aaron. As much as we all did. I’d so like talking to her. What would she say if she could have been there. “Good luck, Zeke!”. Yeah. That’s what she would have said about me and Casey. She’s like him, too. Who wouldn’t…
The letters… I’m glad Casey is allowed to stay here a little longer.
“It was a strange day, Zeke…”
“A wonderful day, too…”
“Could you please stop hmmmm-ing?”
I can’t but laugh…
This made both of us laugh.
“I’d like reading the letters…”
“No…Could you do me a favour?”
“I want you to read the letters to me…”
“I don’t know why, but I feel they are important and I’m a little bit scared..”
“I’ll read them to you, Zeke…”
And he kissed me…
For a moment there was only I and him, no letters, no birthday, no parents, no grandma, no Aaron.
Only Casey and I.