“So, Sammy, you’re birthday’s coming up. Are you ready?”

Sam though about his mom’s question. Was he ready to leave childhood behind? Did he feel like he’d done enough? Would being a teenager mean no more pirate adventures and dragon quests? Would he be reunited with his friends who’d all already past this first hurdle? Did he want to stay a child forever?

He must have taken too long to answer because his mom reached over and gave him a hug. “Don’t worry, sweetie. You’ll get to decide what you want to change.”

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***


That weekend they all piled on the bus and headed to Oasis Springs. His parent’s friend…somebody was having a birthday and they’d all decided to go. Afterwards they hoped to meet up with the Oliveras. The party was completely boring. Sam spent half the time on the couch watching TV with his sister.

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When it was decided they’d watched too much, they were sent outside to play. There was nothing to do out there.

“I don’t want you to grow up if you’re going to be all boring,” Izzy said tossing a rock into the sandy dirt. They watched the wind carry the dust cloud away.

“I won’t be boring.”

“But you’ll be old.”

“I’ll be a teenager, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still play together.” Sam hoped that was true. Did you feel different as a teenager? Were games not as fun anymore. “Let’s cloudwatch,” he said, pulling their conversation from serious.

“That, right there is a heffalump.”

Izzy giggled and looked where he pointed. “No, it’s not. That is clearly a snark. You can tell because it has two sets of wings and a horn.”

“Ooh, you’re right,” Sam grinned and then pointed at another cloud. “And that?”

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“Crinkleflyer,” she said very solemnly, but her eyes twinkled, daring him to come up with another imaginary animal.

“Oh? Are you sure it’s not a sparklepoof? Look at those tail feathers?”

Finally, it was time for cake. Sam payed close attention as the man blew out the candles. It looked like it hurt…

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Then after some long goodbyes, it was time to leave. As they walked up the street, Sam could feel his nerves returning. Rachelle and Stefanie had become teenagers already. What if they thought he was childish? Suddenly he wished his birthday was yesterday or today instead of tomorrow.

Sam wasn’t too sure how it all happened. But he remembered when their mom had died and they moved away. Their father had remarried afterward. He tried to explain this to Izzy as they walked.

“She was named Bella?”

“You were named after her,” there father said noticing their conversation. “She was a wonderful lady, just like you.”

They didn’t stay long at the Olveras.

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The birthday party had gone late, and Stefanie was expected at work. Soon after they arrived she left. And once she was gone, they said their goodbyes. Promising to return soon. It had been as boring as the birthday party. He’d been too shy to ask Rachelle or Stefanie if they wanted to play outside or something. Plus, they had seemed perfectly happy just to talk with the adults about how much they liked school and Oasis Springs.  Was this what being older was like? All talk and no sparklepoofs?


***


 

 

Chana watched the kids playing outside while she tidied the house and prepared the cake.

02-25-16_8-07-56 PMIt felt like only yesterday, she’d held little Sammy in her arms and watched his bright eyes soak up the world with wonderment. She knew he was nervous about getting older, who wouldn’t be, her own birthday loomed nearer everyday. Arturo seemed the same as always, but it was only a matter of time. Each birthday brought you close to the next stage. For Sammy that meant high school, jobs, and maybe someday romance. A part of her was excited by that thought, the other half was terrified. It was far too soon for him to be thinking about those things.

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Carefully she cut away at the cake until it was the proper shape shown in the cookbook. She pulled out the icing and glanced sideways at the image. She’d not tried anything this complicated before.

“Can you add fangs?” Sammy asked peering up at her. She blinked in surprise as she hadn’t heard them come in. Soon they’d be seeing eye to eye.

“Fangs?” He just grinned in response. Chana looked back at her guide. “I’ll try.”

“Cool,” and then he was gone following his sister into their room where he could hear them discussing drawing something sparklelumps? What were they doing? Sammy hadn’t shown much interest in the drawing table, he was also too much on the go, but Bella would sit for hours (the only time she was still) drawing.

And then, ready or not, it was time.


***

 


Sam took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

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“Make a wish!” Izzy said, jumping up and down.

What did he want? He wondered. He opened his eyes and looked around. His father was ready with the confetti popper, still dressed in his work clothes. He’d rushed to get home early before their bedtimes. Izzy was dressed up in her favorite dress and spinning the noisemaker like crazy. Mom was looking down at him, a smile on her face. “Blow” her eyes seemed to say.

This. This was what he wanted. Not wealth, or fame, or even romance. That could come later or not at all. But family. This warmth, this love. If you have this, he thought, you have everything. Weath and fame and love would be bonuses.

He blew out the candles.

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Mom was right, he felt taller, but he didn’t really feel all that different. He looked down at Izzy who was staring up at him, eyes wide.

“Shall we finish drawing the sparklepoof after we’ve had some cake?”02-25-16_11-31-18 PM

Her grin was all the answer he needed.


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Author’s Note: At last! The great reveal. He has Aturo’s chin and eyebrows. But Chana’s eyes. He also has the skinny arms and wide torso, but not Arturo’s misshapen legs and tiny feet. If you were looking for a pretty sim, he didn’t turn out too badly, right? Let’s hope some of these traits will continue to be passed on! But no, I didn’t let him keep the pants.

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