A Year In The Life.

by Serge Bielanko

We hold our hands up and snap eager fingers and call her name fifty/sixty times in a minute.

Its Violet's sweet attention we're after. Her careless gaze landing on us is the wafting opium on the breeze. And we are junkies/chasers of the rain and the stars, reaching out and trying to grab on to the old shirt-tails of jittery ghosts as they flit from room to room, forever turning corners just ahead of us. If the Devil himself waltzed on into this room, scattered cinders leaking smoke from his matted nest of hair, Hell Contracts crumbled in his resin-stained fingers(HASHISH!), a Bucca DiBeppo pen clenched in his teeth/grill: we would each sign without even looking...as we call the kid's name with one hand, scribble it all away with the other one.

Perfect point-and-shoot pictures of children and their cakes get taken from time to time and that possibility is enough for each of us.

Pretty soon the Birthday Girl is brought her cake. The dining room lights get cut and I carry the slab of wet cement in on the aluminum foil covered tray. Its a cake I baked myself, from a box, and that makes me a little proud but mostly I realize that Duncan Hines designed these things so that even prisoners deep in bad jails could cook a cake with just a cup of his own pee and a streak of weak sunshine. Either way, I made it for my daughter and that'll stand forever.

Monica encourages our daughter to blow out the candles. Then she encourages her to use her little hands to dig into my masterpiece, with gusto. Violet is a little hesitant at first as the elegance/class she gets from her Daddy hold her down in the face of the strong improper winds of Mom. But my ways/dreams/influence are simply not enough. I lose her to the hurricane blowing through the room. Before three minutes are up: a newer cake-ier Violet is born. Around five minutes in, the difference between the kid and the cake is minimal at best.

Flashes go off with popping corn speed.

"Violet, over here! Look at Momma!"

"Over here Sweetie! Look here! Look at me snapping!"

"LOOK AT ME SNAPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"Violet! Look at Grammy!"


"Over here, Pumpkin!"

"Put more cake in your ear, I missed it before!"

Through it all, one dog circles the small crowd, stoned on the action. The other dog stands twenty feet away, in the back of the Honda. He'd lost his poor mind in the midst of it all. Got crazy. Got sent to Siberia.

The First Birthday Party. We all see/feel/eat it in our own little ways. Its cake and pictures and Motown playing low on the portable DVD. Its cake crumbs down in the folds of the high-chair. Grandmothers angling for the shot. Dogs driven mad by the chanting of a single name, without pause or break, forever.

Its Mom and Dad, a year later, with hearts just fucking exploding in their chest cavities.

And its the kid herself, a year in, looking at the tiny stacks of icing on her fingertips; tickling it across her uncertain lips; tasting the massive sweetness for the first time ever. The Birthday Girl just feeling the rush of sugar bolt through her streams and sensing strange cool life sweeping her up in its imminent rush to take her picture a trillion times before the long day fades beyond the hills above town.