The loud pop of a balloon pulls my attention
from the open prairie landscape I’m sketching
and brings me back to the incessant chatter
carrying on around me.
My brothers are laughing obnoxiously—
almost completely wasted—about some chic
they were creeping on all day,
with Dad listening eagerly on the side,
throwing in a few “atta boy’s” at the juicy parts.
My mom and her bestie are gossiping
over some cheap Keystone Lights
about another friend’s new and poorly-executed haircut.
My sister and her boy toy are in the corner—
there’s no conversation happening there.
All this fun and laughter makes me wonder again
why I’m not a part of it. Isn’t this
my birthday? They’ve sung my song, I’ve opened gifts,
we’ve eaten the store’s cheapest day-old cake.
All the birthday obligations have been met
hours ago—the expected niceties have been taken care of.
But I can tell none of it was about me,
though I wish it were. My family will use any excuse to party.
I get up and look around. They won’t miss me if I’m gone.
I step over several empty cans of beer
to get to the door. I hate beer.
I softly close the door until I hear it’s faint click
and walk down the hall wishing someone
would call after me. But no one does.