The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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This memory is the subjects first clear memory in the distinction between childhood and adulthood.

It was a cold wet day in January; the sleet came down in sheets. 

Robyn’s knee-high stockings were drenched from the walk home after missing the school bus and her snow coat had proven useless against the long northeast winter. The gray sky whipped its bitter wind around her one last time as a goodbye hug when she reached the door to her home.

“Until next Monday,” it seemed to say. Robyn stepped into the welcoming warmth of the house, eager to change into new socks. It was a miserable day.

It was also her 15th birthday.

The adults in her family always told her to enjoy her birthday while she still could because one day they would lose all luster. She never understood how this could be possible but every December 21st she would watch her dad pretend to be busier than usual to avoid all the happy birthday calls. She wondered if there was a certain birthday when this happens or it it’s a gradual occurrence. After a drawn out hot shower to thaw her bones Robyn went downstairs expecting to find her parents in the kitchen prepping her chosen birthday dinner that she requested every year: dad’s secret recipe meatloaf.

She swung around the bannister of the stairs, flinging herself into the empty kitchen. Empty? There were no dinner ingredients on the counter.

“Mom? Dad?” Robyn called into the basement. They weren’t there either. The heavy front door unlocked and hit the wall as it opened. Her parents came in carrying plastic bags that she suspected to be carrying what will soon be her annual birthday dinner.

“Happy birthday,” they said simultaneously as they brushed passed her into the kitchen. Blaming their unenthusiasm on the bad weather, she sat down at the kitchen island.

“Robyn, I have something for you,” her dad said while looking into a plastic shopping bag and then handed her a piece of paper. A little confused, but mostly excited, Robyn looked over the document expecting it to be anything but what it actually was: a job application form.

“It’s for the candy store in the mall.” He said, distractedly putting away groceries, “You know my friend Tommy Loftus? Well his daughter works there and could get you a job. I could give you a ride over there now if you want to talk to her.” The way he said it meant she had no choice.

Robyn didn’t know what to say. She nodded and mechanically put on her coat, still soggy from the walk home. All she could think about was how she had an answer to her earlier question. Fifteen is when birthdays stop being fun.

First Day of Adulthood

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