After her shower, Amelia runs downstairs to see what they’re all doing. She stops at the bottom of the stairs and admires the decorations. The entire house is decorated from top to bottom with streamers and party balloons. Right above the kitchen is a huge banner that reads Happy Birthday, Amelia! They even remembered her favorite colors of blue, pink, and purple, and splashes of silver make everything stand out more.
“I can’t believe they did all this,” she whispers. She touches the hanging streamers as she glides through. A huge smile forms across her face. She hears Leona and the boys in the backyard laughing about something, so she walks out to thank them. The decorations in the backyard look even more beautiful. They’re putting lights around the trees and bushes, and they even have a dance floor
“Guys, the house is perfect. Thank you so much. I wasn’t expecting all this,” she says.
“Oh, we’re glad you like it!” Leona says, smiling. She takes a step back and admires her work.
“Happy birthday!” Eli and Navid yell instantaneously.
Leona walks up and wipes away Amelia’s tears. She didn’t realize she was crying.
“Thank you,” Amelia mumbles, looking down.
“You’re welcome, honey. This is for Cash. I know he’d want his baby girl to have the best day of her life.”
Hearing Leona utter his name is painful, like she’s being stabbed in the stomach. To keep the tears from falling, she looks up at the trees and stares at the flowers. She hates that Leona talks about him like he’s no longer alive. She sniffs and takes a deep breath to hold back a sob. Eli and Navid go back to putting up more lights, so she turns to head back inside, when Leona grabs her hand.
“Listen, we’re almost done here, so I thought we could all get dressed and head into town at about twelve thirty. How does that sound?” Leona asks.
“That sounds good. I’ll let you guys finish up here, and I’ll go put on my bathing suit,” she replies. She runs up to her room and throws on her new hot-pink bikini top and black bottoms and takes one look in the mirror and is shocked by her thin frame. It must be from my new depression diet. She covers up with a T-shirt and jean shorts and applies some makeup to offset her swollen eyes. Outside her room she hears the boys coming upstairs like they’re racing to the finish line. Just as she’s about to sit on the couch downstairs, Eli and Navid rush back down wearing swimming trunks and T-shirts.
“That was quick,” she says as they plop down.
“Oh, well we just threw on our swimming trunks. We didn’t bother showering since we’re about to get in the water anyway,” Eli explains.
“Men,” Amelia laughs while shaking her head.
“Okay, kids, let’s go!” Leona says, coming out of her room.
On their way into town, Leona looks at Amelia through the rearview mirror and says, “Amelia, I know you said you wanted to go to a water park, but I was doing some research and there’s a beautiful lake that I think you would like.”
“Oh, okay, where is it? Have you already been there?”
“Yes, last week I went to check it out. One of our neighbors suggested it, and it’s huge. We can go swimming, fishing, have a picnic. There’s also a small beach. I reserved a picnic shelter for us to eat and hang out. Trust me, you’ll love it!”