It usually sucks, having your birthday land in the beginning of the school year instead of the summertime. On his 12th birthday Jackson woke up this September morning feeling happy yet somehow incomplete. The smell of freshly made pancakes, which his father had just finished making, wakes him what up from a dream he was having about his mother.
Jackson gets up out of bed and proceeds to get washed up and ready for school.
Running downstairs to sit at the table for breakfast, comes in his dad wearing an apron around his waist and a big smile on his face.
“Gooooood morning birthday boy” says his father while placing a big plate of pancakes with rainbow sprinkles and a candle in the middle, directly in front of him on the table.
“Dad you didn’t have to-”
“Happy Birthday son”, his dad says as he kisses him on the forehead. “Now make a wish”.
Jackson smirks at his dad, then closes his eyes to make a wish as he blows out his candle.
“So how’s it feel to be 12 my man?”
Jackson looks back at his dad with an unbothered look on his face.
“It feels the same” he says nonchalantly
“Oh yea?” says his father as puts the dirty pans in the sink “Not even a little different?”
Eating his breakfast, Jackson looks up and continues.
“I mean…” taking a breath from chewing. “I guess feel a little taller” he says with a mouthful of pancakes.
“AYEE, there we go.” Says his father, “I knew something would feel different. Being twelve is a big deal, it’s a whole new ball game.”
Jackson getting up from the table. “Whatever you say dad” .
Taking Jackson’s empty plate to put it in the sink, glancing over at his son watching him fix his hair into a neat afro, then back to the dishes.
“Trust me” his father says, as he walks over to Jackson. “Your life begins to change at this age, and all for the better”
“Thanks Dad. I sure hope so” says Jackson.
His father hands him his backpack from off the banister of the staircase and watches him throw it over his shoulders at the door and quickly glancing at Jackson’s sparrow shaped birthmark behind his left ear.
“Have a great day son”
“Thanks dad, love you” Jackson says as he opens the door.
“Love you more” says his father, watching him leave the house for school.
As Jackson walks to the bus stop he begins to feel much better knowing he has entered a new chapter in his life where good things are yet to come. Or so his father says. After walking a few more blocks, he finally makes it to the bus stop, but a new thought has now entered his mind. His mother. He wishes his mother was around to see him grow up but Jackson only has a vague memory of her from when he was a baby. The bus finally comes and the thought escapes his mind but still lingers. Sitting near the window, he looks outside and continues to think more about the mother he never really knew. A few minutes pass by and Jackson develops a strange feeling as though someone has been watching him.
He starts looking around, but no one seems to be paying him any attention.
Within a few moments a woman in her mid-thirties approaches him from behind and touches him gently on the shoulder.
Jackson turns around and sees the woman.
“Hello” she says softly.
“Hi” answered Jackson.
“Is today your birthday” asked the woman.
“Uh yeah… How did you know that?” questioned Jackson.
The bus begins to slow down as it approaches the upcoming stop. She begins to gather her things and get up to leave the bus and it comes to a stop.
“You always looked just like your grandfather” she said with a soft voice.
“Wait you knew my grandfather? Hold a sec, who are you?” Trying to analyze her face as they both stare at each other.
The woman, smiles and strokes her thumb against his birthmark. “Don’t worry bout’ me, you’re doing just fine without me” the woman says as she gets up from her seat and walks closer to the bus exit.
“Wait, don’t leave.” Jackson pleaded as he too get up from his seat to stop her.
“Please! Wait miss, how do you know so much about me?” Jackson yells as he rushes off the bus behind her.
The bus drives by, leaving Jackson and the woman standing face to face on the sidewalk.
“Well… I guess now we got time to catch up”
She stretches her hand out for Jackson to hold
Jackson looks around at the empty street then back at the strange woman standing there with her hand out and friendly smile on her face.
He takes her hand and proceeds to walk with her into an alley leading to an almost forgotten part of town.