It was a stormy Saturday when Abuela was moving house, and therefore all hands were on deck. Even though it was Katie’s sixteenth birthday, even her side of the family were helping out. There were boxes piled by the front door, ready to be taken in Uncle Steve’s truck over to her new flat.
“Anyone for lunch?” Mum asked, holding up plastic bags with rectangular plastic containers inside.
“Alright,” Dad agreed, “Let’s have a break”.
We wandered over towards the small table. Mum placed down the bags and removed the containers, fogged with the steam from hot toasted sandwiches inside. I took one of them and bit into it. The bread crumbed over my lips. Cheese and tomato scalded the insides of my cheeks. I reached for whichever drink of water I could find. Thankfully I sourced a glass and gulped it down. After lunch, we resumed the move. Things would be different, but by the end of the day, Abeula had settled into her new room. In the evening, once the clouds had cleared away, we went out for dinner at the bowling club, for Katie’s birthday. We piled in in dribs and drabs, all making our way over from Abuela’s new flat. I was seated at the end of the table, with Natalie next to me and Geoff across from me, which was uncomfortably awkward because I would probably now be obligated to talk to him. Aunty Melissa entered carrying a large silver balloon. It read ‘Sweet 16’ in dark purple glittery letters. Aunty Melissa placed in down in the middle of the table, in front of where Katie was supposed to be seated that evening.
“Where’s Katie?” she asked, sounding just a little bit annoyed.
I casually shrugged my shoulders.
“I haven’t seen her around, I’m sorry,” Natalie admitted. “She might just be going to the toilet or the like.”
I nodded, then got up to have a look. The bowling club was a family friendly place, couples with kids and their grandparents coming for dinner. I could hear a faint soundtrack playing from somewhere in the premises. Walking through into the next area, I nearly bumped into Katie. I noticed a blush in her cheeks, underneath her foundation.
“Oh, hey, your mum’s looking for you.”
Katie followed me back to the table. I sat down, glancing over to a television. It glowed green and white, playing the Test cricket with the sound turned off, but I wasn’t sure whether it was live coverage or highlights. When the waitress came around, I opted for a burger. Whilst I knew I didn’t really like avocado, hopefully the flavour would be muted amongst lashings of haloumi. Once my dinner arrived, it came with a massive serve of chips. Completing the meal, there wasn’t room left, but I wasn’t going to say no to birthday cake. It was only a couple of years ago that I was sixteen. Katie leaned forward and blew out the birthday candles. Once all the tiny fires were extinguished, Aunty Melissa pulled back the cake. She cut it up, and once we’d ate a slice each, we bid our farewells and I returned home, feeling tired, listening out for rain on the roof.
Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey desires to explore themes of hope, love and longing through her storytelling. She is the author of 'Shadow' and 'From the Wild'.