Season 1:3 ‘Birthday Wish’

by P WIlliam Ross

I open the envelope.  Letterhead from the National Bureau of Genetic Profiling peeks out of the rip.  My heart is racing and it feels like I’m not really living this moment; like I’m watching a video of myself.  I draw the paper out of the envelope.

The first few lines are full of congratulatory nonsense.  I’m match number two hundred and forty-six thousand this year.  There’s a sentence about how this match does not “limit me to any specific situation but guarantees the highest level of compatibility”.

“So, what’s his name?” mom asks.

“Jacob Scott Baxter from Chicago, Illinois,” I answer.

Saying his name feels weird.  I might repeat that name for the rest of my life.  Baxter could be my new last name.  I could fall in love with saying his name over and over.  He lives kind of far from here; we’re in a suburb outside Columbus.

“What do I do now?” I ask.

“Go look him up, get in contact with him.  Use the internet,” my mom says.  She sounds excited for me.  I can tell it’s bringing back memories of how she and dad met.

Astro follows me up the steps to my room.  I start out by entering his name in a search engine.  It doesn’t help much.  The letter lists his home address.  I grab a legal pad and my favorite pen to write him a message.

Finding the words to say to your soulmate for the first time is difficult.  I kind of want to tell him everything, to pour my heart out onto a page of yellow lined paper.  But I also don’t want to say too much.  Just because we were seemingly made for each other doesn’t mean we should settle.

My thoughts are driving me crazy.  I’m worrying about things I’ve never thought about before.  Crossing out words, ripping off pages, and tapping my pen against my temple.  What if he doesn’t write back?  What if he thinks I’m writing too much?

After three solid hours of freaking out and scribbling down words, I fold my final paper in half and seal it in an envelope.  It will sit in the mailbox on the corner until Monday.

Now I understand the whirlwind of emotions everyone describes in their stories online.  Being told one specific person is perfect for you though you’ve never met.  The inability to find any information about them.  Sending a letter out into the strange abyss of the rest of the world, hoping it will bring you one in return.

Felix calls me after I drop the letter off in the box.

“Happy birthday,” he says.

“Thanks,” I reply.  My mind is only half paying attention to our conversation.

“So, how’s the day going?”

“Fine.”

“Did you open your letter yet?”

“Yeah,” I say.  The weather is nicer than it was yesterday.  Spring is transitioning into summer.  A few birds dip and flutter overhead before disappearing behind the roof.

“And?  Did you find anything about him?  Where does he live?”

“His name’s Jake Baxter, from Chicago,” I pause to look at the sky, “and I didn’t find anything else.”

“Bummer.  I guess you’ll just have to wait then.”

“Right.  How’s your Saturday?”

“Fine.  Just doing some homework then going out for dinner with my parents,” he says.

“Sounds good.”

“Well Liv, I’ve got to finish up here, just calling to see how it went.”

“See you Monday,” I say and hang up.

I walk out past my house towards the athletic fields.  The sun beats down on my neck and I’ll probably get a sunburn.  It just feels like the day isn’t really happening.  Tomorrow I’ll wake up and someone will tell me there’s no such person as Jacob Scott Baxter.

“Hey, you’re Livia, right?”

I hadn’t noticed, but someone had been jogging towards me on the sidewalk.  It’s not uncommon for runners to use our block as a path for exercise.

“Yeah, do I know you from school?”

Our school is pretty big, and I’m not one of the most social people in the neighborhood.

“Well, not exactly.  I mean, we’ve never met.  I’m Glen.”

He must be on one of the sports team at school based on his clothes and fitness.  Still, this is the first time I’ve noticed him.  We stare at each other and he gives a little laugh.

“What?” I ask.

“Nothing.  I guess this is weird for you.”

“A little.”

“I’ll go then,” he says and jogs off.  When he’s a few feet away he turns back and shouts, “Oh, and happy birthday.”

Next Chapter.

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