Birthday Wishes

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I never imagined my eighteenth birthday being like this. I always thought I'd spend it at my favorite sushi restaurant with Maddox, Heather, and Cler, getting the all-you-can-eat option on the menu and then going for ice cream afterwards.

My birthday morning was far from that. I woke up feeling bloated, with my back aching and Poppy standing over me like a total creep.

"Hey birthday girl! Come downstairs!" she said.

"Ugh. Give me a minute," I said. "Get out so I can change."

"Okay. You've got five minutes. There's a surprise for you."

"It's my birthday. There's always a surprise for me." I laughed, wondering what Mom had up her sleeve for me this year.

I slid out of bed and put on one of my new maternity shirts over my sixteen-week bump. That's right. Summer was almost halfway over, and I was already about four months along.

Just four more weeks until I finally, finally found out the genders of my two peanuts. I was already feeling their itty bitty fluttering movements. 

I brushed my hair and went downstairs. The whole kitchen smelled like my new craving: blueberry pancakes. There was a big giant stack of them sitting on the kitchen table.

I walked behind Mom and gave her a giant hug, even though my belly was getting in the way.

Thanks so much," I said to her. "This is the perfect little surprise."

"What, the pancakes?" she asked, chuckling.

"Well, yeah," I said.

"What? Did you really think the surprise was just the pancakes?" she asked.

"Well...usually..."

"Come on! Let's go outside!" Poppy said, skipping towards the door.

"Mom, what did you do?" I asked her.

"Oh...nothing," she said, trying her absolute best to hide a guilty smirk.

I smiled, put on my sandals, and followed Poppy out the door. When I stepped onto the walkway, Poppy was jumping up and down on the grass. I looked in the street and saw an old white SUV. There was a big dent on the back bumper.

"Whose car is that?" I asked.

"What do you mean, 'whose car is that?'" Mom said, coming out the door. She jiggled a pair of keys and handed them to me. "Happy Birthday. It's yours."

That's when it hit me. I closed my fingers around the keys and looked at the car. I wanted to cry happy tears, but I think I was too excited. I unlocked the car and ran up to it, then opened the door and climbed into the driver's seat.

The leather seat had a tear by my right thigh. I turned and looked at the back seat. It was covered in dog hair. And don't get me wrong, I loved dogs, just not cars that looked or smelled like tons of them were living in  it.  

"Sorry, I didn't have time to clean it. I just bought it an hour ago before I made breakfast. I'll get it vacuumed out and put in some air fresheners, then it'll be good as new," Mom said. "I know it's really not great but, do you like it?"

"Yeah, of course! I don't care how bad it is! It's a working car!" I said.

I tried to smile the best I could. I didn't want to seem ungrateful, because this really was amazing that I had a car now. It just didn't seem that exciting with the bad smell and the dent. It was literally embarrassing compared to Cler's brand new car.

Then again, my babies would never be able to fit in the back of what she was driving. My SUV even had a third row of seats that looked like they could fold down. It was the perfect spot to store diaper bags and strollers.

"It was the best deal I could find. I put down as much as I could...I feel bad that I couldn't pay the rest of it off for you, but with the price I got you should only have a two-year loan," she said. "You only have to pay a hundred bucks a month." 

"Mom, I'm just happy I have a car," I said.

"Which I know you need sooner rather than later. Now get back inside! Your pancakes are getting cold!" she said.

We ran back in, and as we started eating, Mom said she had one more surprise for me. She handed me her phone and told me to hit the "play" button on one of her voicemails. I touched the screen and put the phone to my ear.

"Hey Jen, it's Linda in HR. I reviewed your daughter's application and now that she's turned eighteen we'd love to have her here in the store. I can interview her as soon as possible so please tell her to feel free to call me back to set up a time. See you on Monday!"

I handed the phone back to her and took a deep breath. I'd been panicking from the minute I walked out of the Hetcher mansion about a job.

I looked every day for the past few weeks and filled out every application I could find, which wasn't much because there were so many jobs I couldn't do while pregnant.

"Well?" Mom asked.

"Of course I'm going to go! But don't you think it'll be weird if we're working in the same place?" I asked.

"Nah. You'll be up front on a register and I'll be running around doing crazy manager things. I'll hardly even see you. Don't worry. I won't embarrass you," she said, chuckling.

We all laughed together, and I finished my pancakes. After breakfast I called Linda back to set up a time for my interview. We decided on the next day. I needed to bring in some cash as soon as possible.

I spent the rest of my birthday out at the mall with Cler. It was hard with my hurting feet, but I managed to power through it. Cler bought me a new maternity dress to wear to the interview as a present. It was blue and pink, so it would work for a gender reveal party too, if we decided to have one.

Once I went back home, where we had our traditional ice cream cake with a side of my mom's famous brownies.

The next day I drove five minutes away to the hardware store in my car, which Cler lovingly named "Smushy" because of the back bumper. I tried to take it as a complement.

I parked and walked in, then told the girl at customer service I was there for an interview. Linda showed up a few minutes later. She seemed really happy to meet me, but I'm guessing she was extra nice because of the whole 'my mom is a manager' thing.

I sat down in her office and she asked me how I was feeling, about the babies, etc. Apparently Mom had been bragging to the entire store about her soon-to-be twin grandkids. It didn't surprise me.

"Okay, Chrys, are you ready to start your interview?" Linda asked.

"Let's do it," I said.

She asked me questions about my experience and what I'd do in certain situations. I tried to answer the best I could. After she turned to the last page in the packet and wrote down my answers, she went to her computer.

"Alright Chrys, I'm going to make you an offer," she said.

"Great," I said, even though I was kind of expecting it.

"Our part-time cashiers start at thirteen-fifty an hour. How does that sound?"

"What? That's almost two dollars more an hour than I was making at my last job! I'll take it!"

"Alrighty then. We're so excited to have you. We always need cashiers. I'll write up a schedule for you and we can get you started with your orientation in just a few days." She laughed. "It's really coincidental. I just made a cashier offer to another expectant young lady yesterday. I'll put you both in orientation together!"

"Wow, that's great!" I said.

I was already excited, but now I was really excited—most likely because I was a little nervous about being the only pregnant person in this whole place. Guess that wouldn't be an issue now. I couldn't wait to meet whoever this other pregnant girl was.

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