Because said friend comes up several times in other stories.
Sometimes I feel sorry for Lando, making half his life pretty crazy. He doesn't even get a breakfor his birthday...
Sometimes breathing fire sucks. Especially on birthdays.
My twelfth birthday was going brilliantly, until the birthday cake. Well, to be specific, just before the birthday cake.
I was grabbing a drink with Thomas when I noticed her. A random girl who I’d never set eyes on before.
What was she doing at my birthday party? Wasn’t it bad enough that all my annoying cousins had come (luckily the not so annoying ones had come too), and now a total stranger just comes and crashes the party. I could barely believe it.
“Something wrong?” Thomas asked, adjusting the paper party hat on his head with a dignified expression.
I shook my head. “Nah, just one of my cousins that I don’t recognise,” I said, shrugging it off.
“Don’t worry, I do that all the time.” His grin widened. “Although mostly it’s just our cousins confusing Titus and me. I just don’t get that, we don’t even look the same. But it is rather fun.”
I nodded and turned to go back out the door. I walked straight into the strange girl biting back a yelp of surprise. I muttered gestured for her to go ahead and pass, shuffling back a few paces.
She looked at me, eyes widening. “Oh no, you’re the birthday boy, you’d better go first.” She flashed me a strange smile, tossing her gold-blonde curls back over one shoulder.
“Uh...thanks,” I said, pushing open the screen door and walking past.
Thomas followed me and we headed off the find Titus. I glanced back at the girl just before we rounded a corner out of sight and my heartbeat quickened. In another few steps I pulled Thomas to the side.
“Did you see that look she gave me?” I asked him urgently. “It looked like she wanted to kill me.”
Thomas’s eyebrows creased into a frown. “Why would she want to kill you? As far as I know, only Sir George has reason for that. At least, he likes to think he does.”
“I don’t know why she’d want to kill me,” I hissed, glancing over my shoulder. ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“Hey, there’s Ti,” he pointed and we raced over.
Titus was walking along the morning tea table, picking off all the food that fancied him. He looked up as we approached, grinning widely. “Did your mum cook all this stuff?” he asked.
I nodded. “It took her ages, I told her we didn’t need quite this much, but she wanted to make it special,” I replied, biting into a piece of pizza.
“I like you’re mum. She’s great.” Titus bit into a scone enthusiastically.
“I’ll tell her you liked it,” I told him.
Thomas fell upon a sausage roll and began devouring it rapidly. I was about to ask why he was in such a hurry when a cold feeling at the back of my neck made me turn around.
The girl was staring at me again.
I nudged Thomas and he followed my gaze. His forehead wrinkled.
The girl seemed to notice our prolonged interest and she flashed me that same charming smile. I smiled back uneasily but she turned away and disappeared. I blinked, was it just my imagination or had she just vanished into nothing?
I had a very bad feeling about this.
Titus regarded us with his head tipped to one side. “Did I miss something?”
“Rather,” Thomas answered. “That girl keeps following Lando and giving him the death stare.”
“Hmm,” Titus considered. “Who is she?”
“That what I want to know!” I said, irritated by the strange girl’s disappearance. “I’ve never seen her before in my life!”
The twins exchanged a glance. Ever since the day when they’d run into my apartment chasing a dragon they’d been my best friends. If I had to face down that random girl, I would at least be glad they were there too.
“Nearly time for the cake, Lando,” a rumbling voice interrupted our thoughts.
I smiled up at my dad. Being a wharfie he was one of the biggest men around and he never failed to stand out in a crowd. Despite his tough look, he was a really nice guy, although Titus and Thomas always got nervous around him. “Cool,” I replied. “Where’s Mum?”
“She’s putting the candles on the cake,” he said, gesturing towards the house. He turned to the twins, “How are you going?”
“Er...great,” Thomas stuttered. “Yeah...great.”
“I see you bought a new house,” Titus added.
I tried not to grin, as Titus stammered into silence, ducking his head.
“Yes,” my Dad said dryly. “Well, I’ll go see if Rayna needs a hand and then I’ll call for cake.” He ruffled my hair. “See you soon.”
He left and Titus heaved a sigh. “Your Dad’s scary,” he said nervously.
My snorts of laughed turned into a yelp as the strange girl materialised beside me.
“Hi,” she introduced herself casually, as if she hadn’t been glaring me seconds before. “I’m Zana Bradford.”
“Ah, hi,” I replied, trying to place her foreign accent. “I’m Lando.”
“I know.” Although she was still smiling, Zana’s eyes still held traces of that death stare.
I edged away nervously, wondering if it would be polite to ask her to leave me alone.
“CAKE!” My Dad’s bellow ceased all conversation for a moment as people recovered from the inevitable momentary deafness.
“Yum,” Zana said, turning away. “Oh, Happy Birthday,” she added over her shoulder.
I stared after her, shaking my head slowly. “Something’s really not right about this,” I muttered.
“C’mon,” Thomas said. “We’d best go find this cake.”
Mum came hurrying up to us as we made our way towards the table. “Lando! I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” she paused, studying my face. “Are you alright?”
I hesitated. “Fine except there’s this strange girl who keeps giving me this creepy stare,’ I said slowly.
Mum froze, blood draining from her face. “Do you know what her name is?” she asked.
“Zana Bradford,” Titus chipped in.
“D’you know her?” I asked eagerly, hoping for a logical explanation.
My Mum frowned then lifted on shoulder in an uncertain shrug. “Hopefully not,” was all she said. She looked at me steadily, “You know that not all fire is hot, don’t you?”
“Umm...” I screwed up my forehead.
She shook herself. “Time for cake,” she said. She seemed to be making an effort to cheer up, but I saw a veil of worry behind her smile.
The birthday cake was a masterpiece of tastiness, I could tell just by looking at it. Mum had poured hours into making and icing it, choosing my favourite recipe and everything.
Such a pity all that effort got wasted in the end.
All my cousins, uncles, aunts, and random distant relations gathered around as my Dad lit the candles. With a grin at me he started off a loud chorus of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song.
I smiled awkwardly, not sure exactly where to look, until Zana pushed to the front.
She stood on the opposite side of the table, and now she didn’t even try to hide her stare. Our eyes locked together, and I only half listened as Dad led the ‘hip hooray’s. I almost fell on the cake as he shoved me gently in the back. “Gonna try blow ‘em out this year?” he asked into my ear.
I winced inwardly. Here I was, on my twelfth birthday, probably the only kid who has never succeeded in blowing out their birthday candles.
I mean, seriously? It was super embarrassing to fail every year and so I’d given up on my tenth birthday, and just put them out with my fingers.
At least now I knew why I couldn’t blow them out. I nodded, surely I could do it this year.
Ha ha. If only I hadn’t tried.
I leant over the cake, took a deep breath and blew.
In the previous years when I couldn’t blow out my candles it was simply a matter of the candles completely ignoring my annoyed puffing and continuing on flaming for all their worth. In comparison it was quite harmless and unembarrassing.
This year’s attempt got top marks for epicness.
(This one was really hard to work out where to stop, so I hope this was a good place)
There you are, introducing Zana Bradford. She's kinda a weird character...but anyway. I've used her for a lot of random ideas.
(emphasis on the random)
Do you have any idea where this is going?
(yay, I do this time :P)
Have you ever had any awkward stories from your birthdays?