"Happy birthday to you!"
My mom enters the dining room with a cake resting on her hands. I count the candles, one, two, three... eighteen exactly.
"Happy birthday to you," my little sister, Annie, chimes in, severely off key "You smell like a monkey- And you look like one too!"
"Happy birthday Ian," my dad pats my back as mom sets the cake down.
𝓗𝓪𝓹𝓹𝔂 18𝓽𝓱 𝓑𝓲𝓻𝓽𝓱𝓭𝓪𝔂 𝓔𝓮𝓪𝓱𝓷!
Green icing on the chocolate brown cake.They spelled my name wrong, but whatever, at least the writing is nice. It's the thought that counts. I could shrug it off but... who mispells Ian?
My mom must notice the hint of disappointment on my face so she says, "I know they didn't get your name right. I hope that's okay."
"It's fine. But, I mean, it's pretty dumb."
"Really," Annie adds, "It's flat out pathetic."
"You never really know what someone might be going through... Maybe they're foreign?" Mom offers, but you can tell she finds it funny too.
Yep. This is the kind of mistake that's going to be talked about for birthdays to come.
"Now hurry up and make a wish," Dad urges. "Then we can get to opening those presents."
I smile up at him. Can't wait to see what kind of chaos they got me this year. I adjust the cake a bit, take one last chuckle at the icing, and blow.
The room goes dark for a while until my eyes get used to the dark. I blink a few times. I'm expecting my family to parade me with questions about what I wished for, but they don't.
It sounds quiet... It feels quiet. Odd. I look around. My mother, sister, and dad are smiling at me. But they're not making eye contact; they're staring through me. I wave a hand in front of my sister. I just can't help laughing at how still she is.
"Helloooo? This isn't funny. Cut it out."
Nothing. She's frozen still. I give her a nudge and pull my hand away as soon as it touches. She feels hard as a rock. I look back at my cake. It's gone. And in its place, a note. Before thinking, my hand grabs it.
Congratulations, Ian Storke!
Pause. That's not my name. Why can't anyone get it right today? Never have I thought that "Ian SMITH" could be such a difficult thing to spell.
-You are the last of your class to complete the simulation. We recognize that you have come a long way and appreciate all your hard work; it isn't easy to complete every task by your age. So, you, along with your other classmates are free to join the welcome ceremony, dedicated to your efforts.
We hope you decide to attend,
"Well, if you're going to prank me, at least get my name right." I laugh, but everyone's still stiff. An uneasy feeling crawls up my back.
I read through the note again. What does it mean "simulation"? Classmates? Like Darcy Millers and Trevor Boye from English? These clues are too confusing. And I thought pranks were supposed to be funny. Mom, dad, and Annie continue smiling. I push out of my seat and head for the door.
Something's definitely off.
Suddenly, an ear-splitting voice echoes from every angle of the dining room. The deafening sound causes a ringing in my ear.
"Ian Storke! You are the last of your class to complete the simulation! That said, it is time for you to give us your decision: would you like to stay or continue living life in the real world? Please choose carefully!"
Author Notes: I thought of this while I was in the shower- and I'm REALLY excited to see how it turns out. I'm trying to put it into words best I can.. But if something should be fixed lemme know.