The Birthday Card

Rated: T

“Hey!” She slapped at the back of his hand. “Get your fingers outta here!”

“Why?” he said, raising his fingers to his mouth to lick the cake batter off.

“Because it’s rude,” she said as she went back to stirring the thick dark mixture. “And unsanitary.” They were alone in the back kitchen that was used specifically for the preparation of his meals and his meals alone.

“But it’s my cake, isn’t it?”

“I don’t see your point.”

“Well, seeing as how I’ll be the one eating it,” he said as he promptly stole more of the batter, “I really don’t mind if I sample it beforehand.”

She turned her intense gaze on him as he licked his fingers again, looking at her with all the innocence of a harmless child. “Get out of my kitchen,” she said and weakly pushed him away from her.

Your kitchen!” he exclaimed in mock surprise. “How silly of me! I was under the impression this was my house,” he said as he looked around the room dramatically as if he were confused.

“You may have paid for the materials but you can’t cook worth your salt.”

“You don’t know that. I’ve never tried.”

“And I suppose you’re going to start now?” she inquired, facing him as she moved her hands to her hips and tilted her head.

“Don’t be foolish. There are far more important things for me to be doing than wasting time learning a skill better suited to a woman.”

“Like getting out of my kitchen?” she offered with a smile.

“You’re being a poor sport,” he said. He glanced over at the temporarily forgotten bowl and swiftly dipped his fingers in again. “Here,” he said and tapped her on the nose, marking her with batter.

“Adi!” she whined. “You’re going to waste it,” she said as she turned around in search of a towel.

“I’m not wasting anything,” he said genially as he took his opportunity to swipe more. “It’s all going to the same place.”

She turned back to him as she wiped her nose clean, her shoulders falling in defeat as she observed him. She sighed softly and wet the towel in the sink, walking back to him. “You have chocolate in your mustache,” she said fondly, affectionately removing the chocolate from his face.

“You look tired,” he said after a moment.

“Not all of us have the pleasure of sleeping until noon, my love,” she said as she put the towel away and went back to stirring the batter.

“Perhaps you should take a nap,” he suggested.

“Oh no,” she said, shaking her head. She could see in her mind’s eye the lengthy list of things she still needed to get around to. “There’s still far too much left for me to do today. I have to finish up this cake and then move onto wr–”

He placed his hand over hers, halting her stirring motion. “Perhaps you should take a nap,” he repeated more emphatically.

She gazed up at him, startled. “Really, Adi, I’m–”


She giggled, feeling rather featherbrained, and suppressed the urge to smack herself on the forehead. “I don’t know,” she shrugged, “I really do have so much to do.”

“They couldn’t possibly be more important than your health.”

“Oh, my health,” she nodded dramatically, grinning. “Well, that’s very thoughtful of you: thinking of my well-being.”

Though, he really did concern himself with her state of health an awful lot. Often to the extent that it grated on her nerves. He never wanted her doing anything too risky–a.k.a. fun–but what else was she to do up here while she waited for him to come home?

“Let me ask you this,” he started, abruptly switching topics. “For whom are you doing all these things on this list?”

“Well, you,” she answered simply.

“That’s what I thought,” he said and with gentle force removed her hand from the spoon she’d been gripping.

“Hey–wait!” she protested as he quickly lead her out of the kitchen, pulling her along behind him by the wrist. “You’re not gonna be happy when–”

He made a sharp right and as soon as they’d cleared the corner that opened to a narrow, heavily shadowed hallway, he unexpectedly pulled her in close to him. “Just think of it as another thing on the list,” he said.

It suddenly occurred to her, as she stood out in the open, unguarded hallway pressed up against him, that she hadn’t talked to or seen anyone around in the last two hours. Where was everybody? Clearly not wandering to this part of the house any time soon.

But to anyone else they would’ve simply been two ambiguous silhouettes against a background of blue light that was falling in through a large window at the far end of the hall. She was aware he knew something-whatever it was had given him the confidence needed to act so brazenly with her without fearing unwanted eyes; but she couldn’t bring herself to care about what it might be.

She reached up on her toes, gripped him by his collar and kissed him softly. Despite that awareness, she still felt a bit of a rush at the prospect of them being caught. “That list is a list of chores,” she said quietly, “among which loving you is never a part of. I actually enjoy that.”

“Good. I was fretting you might force me to play the But-It’s-My-Birthday card so early in the game.”

“What do you plan on using it for?”

“I’m not sure yet. Whatever I do that’ll make you mad-and I know that’ll happen.”

“Oh, Adi, you never–”

“Don’t even say it,” he said, putting a finger to her lips.

She looked a bit guilty. “I only get mad because you drive me crazy, you know.”

He smiled dotingly down at her. “I know,” he said. “Perhaps you can use that to sympathize with me when the thought of you breaking your leg skiing drives me crazy.”

“Now that’s completely different!” she challenged.

“How so?”

“Skiing is good for my health; you agonizing over every little thing that could possibly go wrong, that’s not good. For you, I mean.”

“What’s wrong with walking? Walking is healthy, too; and safe.”

“I could be attacked by a bear,” she said with artificial seriousness, leaning into him. “What will I do then? I can out-ski a bear but I can’t out-run him.”

“You’re right,” he agreed, nodding soberly. “You should just remain indoors at all times.”

“You’re killing me,” she said flatly.

“And you’re patronizing me,” he countered. “On my birthday.”

She smirked, gazing at him thoughtfully, and shrugged. “Fine, if that’s really what you want to use that card for,” she said in an airy voice and began to walk in the direction of the staircase. “Consider it used.”

“Now wait a second, that’s unfair,” he said, trailing up the stairs close behind her.

“Oh? So you don’t want to use it now? All right then,” she allowed as she stepped into her bedroom. She fell back onto her bed and sat up on her elbows, looking at him in mischief. “But you do realize that means I get to ski, yes?”

“No, I don’t think it does, actually,” he said, closing the door behind him.

She cocked her head and looked to the ceiling, her countenance that of exaggerated thoughtfulness. “I think it does. See, the way I see it–”

Then his mouth was on hers, silencing her, his body immobilizing her beneath him against the mattress. “Let’s not talk about this,” he said, tenderly pushing her hair back from her face. “It’s boring.”

He resumed kissing her.

No one will ever convince me Adi couldn’t be fun.

© 2015 Elizabeth Klarke