t w e n t y - s i x

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I used to love birthdays. I really did. They were my most favourite time of the year as I could say, 'I survived another year without dying or having a mental break down'. But for the past four years, I hated it. I hated waking up in the morning with the sound of the alarm clock, with the date of my birthday at the bottom corner. Usually, I would be excited seeing that date. But now, I wish I could destroy it for welcoming me to this day.

I stared at the alarm clock, reading sick o'clock in the morning. If only looks could kill. I would've destroyed that monstrous small box at the end table.

I took in a long deep breath before turning in bed and laid on my back, staring at the white ceiling. I grabbed my phone and glanced at it, already noticing a few text messages and a few voicemails. I already knew who they were from. Undoubtedly Mia and my cousins and aunts.

Not many people knew that today was my birthday. I kept it that way. I wondered if should listen to the voicemail, listening to my cousins singing me happy birthday like they always did every year without a fail. I didn't want to though. I didn't want to be reminded what this day meant.

I sucked in another deep breath and forced a smile on my lips. I had to be happy about this day. Especially for dad. Dad seemed like he moved on already. More than I have. Maybe because he keeps pretending that everything was okay that made it easier for him to move on. I should probably do the same. Just so I could stop thinking about today.

I listened the voicemail, hearing the screams on the other side, singing happy birthday. "Happy Birthday our beautiful little Elizabeth," I heard Aunt Linda say with excitement. She knew that today was probably the worst day of my like but like everyone else who knew about it, tried to pretend that whatever happened on this day five years ago never happened. "I can't believe our little niece is all grown up."

I continued listening to their birthday wishes and I ended up hanging up halfway through. I couldn't listen on without bursting into tears.

I heard a knock on my door.

"Come in," I mumbled.

Dad walked in with a sickly sweet smile that was laced with sympathy. "Happy birthday, kiddo," dad greeted.

I forced a smile in return. "Thanks dad," I said, sitting up in bed. Dad smile disappeared and took a seat beside me on the bed. He held my hand gently.

"Do you want to come with me to see her?" he asked. He asked me this every single time he planned on seeing her, and like every time, I still didn't have the courage to see her yet.

I shook my head. "I don't think I can," I muttered.

Dad sighed. I know how much he wanted me to go but I couldn't. I was scared to see her. Too scared what my emotion would do to me. I was trying to move on this year but just going to see her was going to make everything worse. The guilt would kill me. The pain was already unbearable.

"You can't blame yourself about this, Ellie. It was never your fault in the first place," dad said, again. I kept quiet and he accepted that as my response. "I guess you don't want to go to school today either."

I nodded.

"Alright. I'll tell the school. I took a day off today so I'll be in the other room if you need me."

I nodded again. I laid back in bed as I heard the door closed. I softly began to cry. Six years. It has been six years since she has been taken away from us. My mum. My best friend. I felt guilty for not even remembering her much this year. I felt like I betrayed her. I was the worst daughter in the world. Mum never deserved a girl like me. She deserved a daughter that wouldn't have her end up dying.

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