Date Of Birth

Entry by: odgemob

30th October 2015
The days have started to lose their boundaries. Borderless, seamless they slip one into the other and she can no longer tell where one starts and the other ends. They glaze over, crackle like ice, a mess of rain-colours. Maybe this is what it is like to get older?
But not this day. Not this date. This one stands still, hemmed with silver, it shimmers like tears. This day waiting for her, the same each year, always there. Always there as October pinches her cheeks and stings her scalp and carpets the ground in firey leaves. Leaves which turn brown under your feet, turn to sludge and mud.
This day.
Rob. At the table. His hair is ruffled. His hair is thinning. Writing something, filling in a form. He says:
"What's the date today?"
"The 25th" she says without turning around, "The 25th of October."
And she almost says it. Almost shares it with him, with this man with whom she has shared everything for the last 6 years, everything but this day. But she looks at him, and his brow is furrowed peering at the form, and he's sipping tea and she knows that she will not tell him. This day is hers alone.
What she would have said, had she said anything, would be this: "It's the 25th of October. It's the date of birth of my daughter. She'll be turning 20 today. The same age that I was when I had her. Old enough, maybe. Old enough to be a mother. But, like I told you before, it wasn't the age that was a problem."

She goes to work. She sets off early because she wants to walk. The thought of the bus today makes her sick. The static, the staring, the waiting. Today she needs to move her legs, she needs to feel the life within her pulse. And the faces of the young women she passes on the street mean something different today. Each one of them is turning twenty, each one of them is her daughter, and she wishes each one of them well.

'My daughter could be dead for all I know,' she thinks, 'She could be ugly. She could have gone off the rails. She could be everything that I never was or all the things that I am. The only thing we have in common is this day. If she ever thinks about me surely it must be on her date of birth?'

She wishes today more than any other day that she could pray. Kneel down in the mud, put her arms to the sky and her head to the floor; light candles with a measured solemnity; or chant slowly and beautifully in a language which doesn't exist any more. Rituals are made for days like these, when your arms need an outline to trace as you promise the past that it has not been forgotten and never will be.

She makes her own ritual. She buys a birthday card. A simple one. Tasteful. Flowers and silver lettering. She goes to sit on a bench in the park. And, like lighting a candle or bowing to an icon, like the first leaves of autumn and the passing of time, like twenty years of life never happened, she writes.

'Dear Daughter,
I think of you on this day. Maybe you think of me too? 20 years pass quicker than ever anyone thought.
We will never meet I think. And I do not think we should. I will always love you because it is not something that I can help. I hope that you think of me. But also, I hope that you never try to love me in the way that I love you... you will be chasing leaves your whole life and by the time you reach them they will have disintegrated. I'm not a poet but leaves are everywhere at this time of year....
Just take life. And what I would say is. Don't worry so much. You're only young. Twenty years on, who knows where you'll be? So many things can change. So many things DO change. And it's always for the best in the end. That's what I've found, at least.
Anyway, you could be dead for all I know. You could be living next door. You could be anything.
Happy birthday.
Your Mother.'

She puts the letter in an envelope. Sits for a while with it between her fingers. It's cold in her bones but she sits all the same just feeling the smooth white of the paper under her fingerprints. Then she walks slowly to a postbox and slots it in. No address of course. Nothing written on it. Who knows what will become of it. Maybe someone will read it, a Royal Mail employee, maybe someone will read it and it will change their life. Or maybe it will be lost, thrown away, discarded.
She smiles to herself as she lets it drop. She hears the soft thud of paper on paper and knows that it is out of her control now. She will never know what becomes of that card. Anything could happen.