Flash Fiction Theme- Happy Birthday
Tom and Betty climb out of their sleek Toyota Highlander. They chat excitedly about throwing their 15-year-old daughter a party with her friends at the beach. For years, Trish has been asking to celebrate her birthday at the beach, but they never felt comfortable with the idea. Sharks, strong currents, and other unknowns cause them fear. However, as parents, they agreed to let her grow and pursue her desires, which includes having a beach party.
A few of Tom and Betty’s friends pull up and hop out of their cars, ready to help set up. They told family and friends to be there by 1 and it was already 12:30pm. They had limited time to decorate the area for Trish’s birthday and didn’t want to let their daughter down.
Soon, streamers cover the trees and bushes near the picnic tables they’ve picked. They were lucky to come across an unattended gazebo picnic and BBQ area. Tom glances around after he finishes tying the silver heart-shaped balloon to the pillar of the gazebo. The beach is eerily quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Usually, the beach is crowded. Tom glances back at the parking lot to see other cars parked, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone around. Where is everyone?
Shrugging, he gets back to work, seeing more cars driving into the parking lot. The guests are arriving. He checks his phone to see if his brother has texted him that they are on their way. Bill said he would stop by Tom and Betty’s house and pick up Trish. With nothing to do, he puts his phone away and joins Betty to welcome their guests in the lot. Betty wraps her arms around Tom.
“I think she’s going to love her party, don’t you?” Betty waves and says hello to a few friends, directing them to the gift table.
“She’s going to be so surprised.” Tom shakes hands with the men and hugs the women. He pats the backs of the children and teens.
“Where’s the birthday girl?”
“Hi mom,” Betty says, hugging an older woman. “She will hopefully be here soon. Tom’s brother, Bill, and his family are picking her up from our house.”
At that moment, Tim’s phone dings. “He has the birthday girl and they are on their way.”
The kids and teens change into their bathing suits in the restrooms. They toss their bags near their parents and rush down to the ocean. Unnoticed by the children splashing in the water are all the abandoned bags and towels on the sand. The adults grab drinks and talk, catching up with each other and meeting the parents of Trish’s teen friends.
Tim starts the grill while Betty, her mom, and a couple of other ladies who brought food, sets the tables. The wind picks up a little, blowing the streamers and balloons. Tim keeps an eye on the parking lot, rubbing his ear. The sound of a loud honk grabs his attention and he and Betty hurry towards the car that has just parked. Bill, his wife Kim, their two kids, and Trish climb out of the car.
“Happy birthday, baby girl,” Betty says, hugging her daughter.
Trish squeals when she sees all her family and friends ready to celebrate her birthday at the beach. Except for two times when she was younger, her parents have never allowed her to go to the beach. After nearly drowning the second time, they stopped going all together.
“All your friends are already in the water. Why don’t you all get dressed in the restrooms over there and join them? I still have to grill up the hamburgers and hot dogs.” Tom gestures towards the restrooms while rubbing his ear.
“Thank you, mommy and daddy! ” Trish hugs her parents with excitement.
Betty kisses her cheek and watches her 15-year-old daughter run off with her cousins to change in the restroom. She tilts her head and rests her ear on her elbow for a few minutes before she walks back to the table to finish setting out the food.
An hour later, the kids and teenagers have returned to the gazebo, ready to eat. Tim and Bill serve the hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and hamburgers while Betty helps the younger ones get some condiments and other foods. Everyone sits down and enjoys their meal, complimenting and wishing Trish a happy birthday in between bites.
“Thank you all for coming. I am so excited to be having it at the beach.” She looks at her parents. “Thank you, mom and dad. I love my fifteenth birthday so much.” She looks at her parents strangely and then at the other adults.
The adults are all rubbing their ears and glancing at the ocean. Trish looks at the ocean, then back at her parents. Her parents mutter happy birthday and drop their plates. Food splatters on the ground as the other adults drop their plates as well. Without another word, the adults troop down towards the ocean. The waves grow higher with each step.
“Mom?” Trish drops her plate and runs after her parents. “Dad? Where are you going?”
The teenagers and children yell after their parents, tugging on their arms and trying to get their attention. The adults mutter happy birthday as they continue walking towards the ocean, their eyes staring off into the distance. They can’t hear their children and walk into the ocean. The children and teenagers stop at the edge of the ocean, screaming for their parents.
The teenagers hug the younger children as the last parent vanishes under the water. They are crying, scared, and not sure what is going on. One kid screams and they all look at the group in time to see a little girl is sucked into the sand. The kids run around, heading for the parking lot. One by one, they are sucked into the sand until no one is left on the beach.