There was a noticeable chill in the air today, distinct from yesterday. Well, maybe that's not entirely accurate. Coldness was a constant in the Alaskan air, but today felt different—a harbinger of the impending change in seasons and the imminent return of snowfall. It seemed inevitable; Alexander could never escape a snowy birthday. Without fail, the flakes would start to fall, and his celebration would be marked by freezing temperatures.
Alexander started to miss the warmth of the sun as the winter months drew near. The temperature would drop to levels that were uncomfortable for most people, which would cause tourists to leave and just the hardy natives to remain. He had gone hunting with his father the day before, restocking their freezer to last them through. When the cold set in, his father's magical prowess would keep their home cozy by maintaining a steady fire throughout the night.
Although Alexander often yearned to live closer to town, he understood the impossibility of that wish, given their reliance on magic. Yet, he couldn't help but feel frustrated at his inability to wield magic himself. As his birthday loomed tomorrow, he anticipated the annual ritual of his father urging him to cast spells, only to end in failure. His father seemed oblivious to the humiliation this repetitive experience brought to Alexander, exacerbating the bullying he already endured.
The desire to escape this magical world gnawed at him. He yearned for a place where he could be himself, free from the judgments tied to his family's magical heritage. Alexander couldn't help but envy normal humans for their seemingly carefree lives, untouched by the challenges of magic. However, the prospect of moving across the country was financially and emotionally out of reach, especially with his father's reluctance.
Sighing, Alexander glanced at the clock, realizing it was 12:59—midnight. Another year older. With a heavy heart, he closed his eyes, willing himself to sleep, hoping to evade the impending birthday and the familiar cycle of humiliation. Perhaps this year, he could endure it without succumbing to the urge to lash out physically, a temptation that had grown stronger with each passing year.
The next morning, Alexander was roused from sleep by his father's cheerful voice. "Happy birthday, kiddo!"
Groaning, he attempted to shield himself with the blanket, only to have it swiftly pulled away. "Oh no, none of that. Up and at 'em!"
Reluctantly, Alexander sat up and stretched. "It's cold," he muttered before succumbing to the inevitable and getting out of bed. "Don't suppose there's any chance I could skip my birthday this year?" he half-jokingly asked.
His father chuckled, his dark hair contrasting with his paler skin. "Of course not, what's the fun in that? Now get downstairs and have some breakfast," he declared before leaving the room.
Though all Alexander desired was to crawl back under the covers, he knew it would only delay the inevitable. After a shower and a change into fresh clothes, he headed downstairs. In the kitchen, his father sat at the table, and the tempting aroma of pancakes, bacon, and sausage filled the air, awakening his appetite. As he drowned his pancakes in syrup, his father droned on about the details of his birthday party, an annual event planned against Alexander's wishes.
Of course, the dreaded part was always on the agenda – attempting to cast magic. It had become an unfortunate tradition, initiated when one turned sixteen. Alexander's repeated failures subjected him to the same ordeal every year. Following breakfast, Alexander had the rest of the day to himself, intentionally avoiding thoughts of the impending party and its unpleasant rituals.
He wandered to the library, losing himself in a book until his phone buzzed, reminding him of the impending alarm. Tempted to linger and hope his father wouldn't find him, he acknowledged the impossibility of hiding from a witch.
Sighing, he rose from his chair, stowed away the book, and made his way home, each step feeling heavier. Upon arrival, the party was already in full swing. He suspected people attended each year for the entertainment of witnessing his failed attempts at casting, finding amusement in his struggles.
After enduring the uncomfortable stares and hushed whispers longer than intended, he retreated into the house, disregarding the judgmental glances. Despite the awkwardness, his father appeared pleased with the festivities.