Spirit

When the photo was developed, he was shocked to find her face staring out at him sadly. He had been unaware that she was at the party and had not noticed her hovering nearby when the snapshot was taken.

Everything else was as he remembered. The gates stood open in welcome, pink and purple balloons adding a sense of colour and festivity to the rusty steel. His wife stood nearby, grinning as she greeted the Hendersons, the youngest of whom was placing his gift upon a nearby table, set out and decorated with a purple table cloth and pink streamers for exactly that purpose.

In the yard, parents mingled, chatting with false courtesy, bottles of lager and glasses of chardonnay fortifying them for the hours to come. Beside the party-goers were more tables, laden with party food. The photograph only caught the edges of the tables. In the picture, you could see a cupcake here, a discarded plastic cup there. He remembered, though.

He remembered how the tables, again decorated in pink and purple, groaned beneath their burdens. Cans of coke vied for a place beside cups of cordial. Plates of fairy bread warred with trays of party pies and sausage rolls. Bowls of chips and lollies attracted children like flies while salads sat beside them untouched; and in the midst of all this deliciousness sat the cake. Pink and pastel blue, shaped as a long flowing ball-gown and topped with the torso of a Barbie doll, it was big enough to feed three times the number that had attended.

And dominating the photograph, rearing gaily over everything was the jumping castle, all pinks and purples and pastels with pretty flags flapping in the wind. Laughing children played within and around the castle, hugging friends, munching on food or forever frozen in the air, the skirts of their princess and fairy costumes billowing around their knees.

He had argued vehemently with his wife over that, actually. “No son of mine is having a princess party.” He had shouted and slammed doors and put his foot down but, as usual, his wife had prevailed. If her son wanted a princess party, her son was getting a princess party. So he had locked his jaw and grit his teeth and pretended not to care what the neighbours thought.

It had almost been worth it, seeing his son’s face light up at his first glimpse of the decorated yard. Almost. In the end, though, the whispers and the stares and the snickers broke his resolve. He had blown up at his wife, started a row right there in the middle of the party. He’d hurled hurtful insults at her, said unforgivable things about his son, called him a travesty, a freak, “probably not even mine”. He would never forget the hurt in his son’s eyes, would never recover the easy relationship they had previously enjoyed.

It was only later he had found out the reason and wondered for the first time (though not the last) why they hadn’t just told him. He’d thought his son a pouf, a cross-dresser or one of those transgender freaks.

He hadn’t known about the boy’s friend. The girl who didn’t have the loving family he’d thought he had; the friend who was always walking into walls or falling down stairs; the friend who jumped at loud noises and flinched when children brushed against her in the halls; the clumsy friend who came to school with a new bruise every day, until she didn’t come to school at all; the friend whose only dream in life was to have a princess party with all her friends.

When the photo was developed, the photo of the last happy day in his life; the last day his wife had spoken to him beyond what was necessary; the last day his son had smiled at him, he was shocked to find her face staring out at him sadly. He had been unaware that she was at the party, been unaware that she could be at the party, and had not noticed her hovering nearby when the snapshot was taken.

*******************************************************************************************************

The prompt for this story, the first in my Fiction Friday slot, was ‘When the photo was developed, he was shocked to find…’, found on Amanda E‘s pintrest board Writing Prompts.

Please bear in mind that I’m quite new to this whole writing lark, so if any authors out there are willing to offer constructive criticism, I would definitely appreciate it.

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