"happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Finn, Happy birthday to you!" Everyone sang in a somewhat harmonious tone and cheered and clapped in sync as I blew out my candles.
One of my aunts shouted in the far back of the sunset-lit crowd, "what did you wish for!" and a huge sigh of annoyed adults came from all over the yard including me and I'm only 16.
She says it every year on my birthday as a joke. She tried to trick me into telling her once because she doesn't believe in superstition. I remember last year as I was about to say it the dog ran into her pushing her straight into the cake. Everyone was mad but karma was happy- our dog.
"I'm not telling you!" I sang back to her. She was smiling I could tell even when a crowd of people was surrounding the table and me.
"16? Wow, I remember when you were only this tall," my grandma standing on my left held out her palm towards the ground right next to her hip. She was a short lady so that meant I was really small. "I know Finn that's small." she laughed. A cold gust of wind brushed over my arms and legs, I could smell my grandma's favorite perfume and burnt birthday candles.
"Jesus it's cold," my mother said through her teeth as her whole body shook side to side, "let's hurry and get inside ok?" she laughed.
My grandma started to cough from the shock of the cold wind. Which was strange but she said she was alright. I was still worried though. As my grandma turned away from the cake so she didn't ruin it with a cough like how my aunt did with her face. She noticed that the tv was on, "who left the damn TV on? that's my money going through those wires." she said with a confused expression. walked up the creaky white porch into the house to turn off the TV.
I turn back to the crowd of people and they've already been handing out the best pieces of cake without me noticing. I felt betrayed. I guess I'll have extra to make up for it. This was nice, the sky was painted a whole array of pinks and purples. Everything looked as if a light pink filter was over it. I was handed the last corner piece by my mom, "thank you." I said with a smile. She looked at me with a smile in return, it felt forced as if she wanted to say something.
"Finn I think-" she was cut short by the sound of my grandma alarming everyone to come inside to the tv.
"yo, money-draining jerks! Come in, it's the president!" Grandma called us in and we did. Everyone was sharing nervous looks. My mom and my dad were the first to walk in. The sound
of shoes trailing behind us on the dark hardwood could be heard with whispering. "It's president Crawford," she waved us closer. My grandpa walked out of the crowd and sunk in his chair.
"I didn't vote for her-" he claimed as grandma slapped his hand.
"not needed, now shhh," she said waving her hand in front of his face.
Big red letters that wrote "breaking news" shifted from one side to the other, "good afternoon I'm Crystal O'Connor and today I bring you urgent news," everyone exchanged looks as the tv continued, "in march of 2020 the CDC announced an outbreak of a mutated strain of the flu. In further studies and tests released from the CDC reports it has mutated once more leading towards a faster spread of the virus, and now a press conference with president Crawford towards the matter." it was dead silent. As the screen cut to our president surrounded by what seemed to be hundreds of shacking microphones and recorders.
"my American citizens. I have called this conference to inform you," she paused, "to inform you that from the recent deaths of the covid-13 virus, and the failed attempt to stop this outbreak from happening again. I've called a stay at home order, across the United States,” the tv continued as I looked around the room, everyone's focus was on the tv, "the CDC has announced mandatory procedure to stay safe and healthy during this time. Stay six feet apart at all times from anyone who does not live with you during this time. Wear masks out in public at all times and wash hands thoroughly if you've contacted anything out in public. Only go outside when necessary. If you feel ill or show signs, stay inside your home and quarantine for 14 days or more, call local clinics and health providers " The tv talked in the background as a muffled blur of light as I walked to my room.
What was she talking about? This virus mutated again, I thought they said it died out? I grab my phone to search for recent articles about the mutation. "New mutated covid-13 may cause a threat" was the most common line as I scrolled through the titles. I kept scrolling through reading bits and pieces for a couple of minutes until I felt something wet slowly run down from my nose. The pollen count is high this week. I thought to myself. Might just be a runny nose. I was soon corrected when a huge dot of red hit my phone's screen. I never have nose bleeds? I quickly type symptoms of new mutated covid-13. The first thing that popped up was its normal symptoms. I kept scrolling until I found "new covid-13 symptoms?" I clicked. And read.
"The CDC has cases of covid-13 where people are showing new symptoms of the virus, but they are uncertain. But they have released one common thing that showed up in all the new cases. Nosebleeds." My blood felt like ice. I reassured myself that it was probably a coincidence.
"Finn! Come downstairs!” my mom yelled.
I wiped the blood off my lip and quickly ran downstairs. My heart-felt like it was pounding with each step as if my heart was making the walls shake and my vision seemed to fade in and out. I took a left and there were my mom and grandma over the kitchen sink. My heart sunk once more, my grandma's nose was bleeding as well.
"Hun can you get me a towel," she said with a smile that said 'now please'
"S-sure thing mom" I ran out of the kitchen and down the hall to the bathroom. The lights were an old yellow that made the whole room look like a bad 2012 social media post that has too much filter over it. This is crazy, I thought to myself. My head felt like it hit a wall. "There's no way," I say out loud. "How?-" the walls felt like they were shaking again. The shadows from the yellow light seemed to move as well. I look up to see the bulb shaking with everything else in the room but soon stopped-
"Hun, Towel!" My mom echoed down the hall
"Coming!" I replied. I grabbed a towel hanging on the door and ran out to the kitchen.
"Thank you. What took so long? Saw a squirrel?" My mom took the towel with a friendly smile this time.
“No I saw god, he told me what the secret to life is,” I joke and force a smile
“Oh do tell,” my grandma said laughing that soon turned into a cough
“Mom please, take it easy.” mom said and then looked at me with concern
“You don't have to worry about me dear, it's a cold it is that time of year you know that right, and besides I'm more in shape than anyone here. No offense Finn,” my grandma's face lit up with joy. She loves being funny.
“None took, but I don't know grams I do play soccer,” I play along with the joke
“Finn mom needs to rest,” mom explained
“Yes, finn your mother needs rest, LOOK a grey hair!” The amount of energy this lady had was so amazing.
“MOM! Enough oh my god. I meant you.” my mom starts laughing but you could tell she agreed with grandma.