Casey burst through the door, threw her bag on the floor, stomped up the stairs, and slammed her bedroom door.
“I hate birthdays!” she yelled.
Mum and Dad looked at each other and sighed. Dad went up and knocked on Casey’s door.
“I’m not changing my mind! No more birthdays!”
Dad opened the door and sat down on Casey’s bed.
“Tell me what happened,” he said in his serious Dad voice.
“I had to sit outside! They all played some dumb balloon game and I had to sit outside on the front step like a bad dog!” Tears streamed down Casey’s face as she looked down at her Superboy action figure in her hands.
“It’s like at Jason’s when all the kids did funny voices with the balloons, and Ashley’s birthday when they made elastic bracelets. I hate everyone!”
“It’s a bum deal,” Dad said.
“And I never get cake! Ever!” Casey sobbed into Dad’s shoulder.
“I hate allergies! And I hate birthdays!” Dad rubbed Casey’s back while her tears dropped down onto Superboy’s cape.
When they went downstairs, Mum made Casey a super sundae, their special treat after birthday parties. “It’s not fair,” Casey sniffed as she took a spoonful of fudge, “all the other kids get to do everything and I get nothing.”
“It’s no fun having allergies,” Mum told her, “but remember, other kid’s parties are for their special day, and it’s important that we honour their choices.”
“I don’t care, I’m not going to anymore stupid birthdays.”
The next day at school, Casey sat down in her desk and crossed her arms. She glared at Daniel when he handed her an envelope, and she stuffed it in her backpack without opening it. At recess, she heard him talking about his party and how they were going swimming in the backyard and how the cake was going to be amazing. She had to try so hard not to cry that she thought her eyes were on fire.
“I can’t wait until you come to my birthday, Casey,” Daniel told her at lunch, “it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to have Superboy everything.”
“Yeah, sure,” Casey replied.
“Hey, wanna come over after school?” Daniel asked.
“I can’t. I have to go home.” Casey turned away. She ran home from school and threw the envelope in the garbage before going to her room. She looked out her window and saw Daniel in his yard playing in the sprinkler. Casey turned away and sat on her bed.
The next morning, Casey saw the invitation sitting beside her bowl of cereal. She gulped.
“I know Daniel really wants you at his party,” Mum said.
“I’m not going.” Casey left without eating.
When Casey got home from school, Mum was on the phone. She made herself a snack and went to her room. Mum was excited when she got off the phone but she wouldn’t tell Casey anything about the call. The invitation sat on the kitchen table until the day of the party. Every time Daniel asked Casey about it, she just shrugged. On the afternoon of the party, Casey sat in her room looking out the window and watching all the kids arrive at Daniel’s house. She imagined the backyard filled with balloons up to the sky and everyone pushing her away.
Mum called from downstairs, “Casey, come down please.”
Casey wiped her cheeks and sulked down the stairs.
“I need to go out for a couple hours, can you go help Dad in the shed?”
Dad was in his greasy shirt and big work gloves that Casey loved to wear. She liked to pretend she was Superboy, fixed the supership in preparation for the next mission.
“I need your help. I’ve borrowed all these from Daniel’s Dad and I need to take them back.”
Casey looked at the tools. “Can’t you go by yourself? Can’t we go somewhere else?”
But Dad said no. They walked across the street and into Daniel’s yard. Casey saw Daniel and all the kids from class.
“Casey!” they all yelled. Casey turned red like a beet and hid her face in her shirt. Daniel took her hand and led her inside.
“I didn’t know if you’d come!”
He showed her that Mum had made a cake safe from all the bad stuff. Casey saw her Mum in the kitchen, and Mum gave her a wink.
“And there are no balloons here!” Daniel shouted and showed her the whole house and yard, balloon free.
“Balloons are for babies anyway,” he told her.
“I’ll be right back,” she told Daniel and ran home. She came back in her bathing suit and she was carrying a bag, which she handed to Daniel.
“This is for you.”
He opened the bag, and inside was Casey’s favourite Superboy action figure that Daniel had wanted since forever.
“You… are you sure?” Daniel asked, staring at Superboy.
“Yes, anything for my best friend. Happy birthday.”