Prologue

"Happy Birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Lilly, happy birthday to YOU!"

Balloons burst, confetti falls, and the cake sits patiently as I prepare a wish. The candle slowly drips wax onto the vanilla icing, decorated with pink and purple flowers, and Lily engraved upon the center. All eyes are on me and yet my mind runs blank. There are so many possible wishes: new camera, a date with Adam Brody, or even a new job would work.

"Okay got it!" I mentioned right before closing my eyes and blowing out the flickering flame spouting from the candles that read "18". I already spewed my first lie as an adult. It's partly upsetting that I had to pretend I made a wish, but wishes are pointless. No sense in getting disappointed in the end because lets face it... wishes don't come true. Not for me anyhow. I casually glanced around the table and registering the many faces in front of me. Uncles, cousins, mother, best friend, acquaintances, acquaintances' significant others, and Brody, my loyal German Shepard puppy.

"Happy Birthday sweetie!" a voice whispered before smacking a kiss on my cheek. Cheryl was probably the only one in the room that realized that I didn't actually make a wish. As a mother it's obvious she can read me like an open book. The way my leg shakes under the table is a dead giveaway that I'm uncomfortable and she is the only one that knows that. She has witnessed 16 of my birthdays and even after missing my 13th birthday basking in the sun in Tahiti and my 4th after being stuck in a snow storm, she still manages to surprise me with an outrageous gift.

"Hurry open it!" she rushed, the excitement grew on her face with a joker-like smile. I quickly unwrapped the blue and red tiny present that replaced the cake in front of me. Uncle George must be devouring it entirely or kindly cutting it into pieces to share. Of course opening presents couldn't be simple, video and digital cameras hovered over my shoulder as I struggled to remove the tape from the box.

"No way! Mom! NO WAY!" I shouted while busting out of the seated position in our postage size kitchen. The small crowd backed away after my sudden movement and I stared blankly into my hand. I held the sparking silver Volkswagen car key above my head and started jumping around. Arms grasped me quickly as I was pulled from the kitchen to the front door where it sat. A cobalt blue, clean but used 2004 VW Jetta.

I peered down at the hand holding my forearm and saw the moon shaped ring on the pinky finger. "Isn't it amazing?" my best friend Veronica questioned. She already knew my answer from my mouth opened in an oval shape and my eyes the size of an owl's. We started jumping up and down and all around before we ran to unlock the doors and jump inside.

"Betty," I sighed.

"What?"

"I'm going to call her Betty!" Veronica laughed at my name for an inanimate object. I pushed the key in the ignition and turned it slightly. The engine grunted underneath me and my left hand gripped the steering wheel before setting Betty in drive. I put the power windows down and screamed out the top of my lungs, "Goodbye bus!'

I woke up dripping in sweat, yet my body was chilled from the air circulating from the fan above me. A quick glance out the window left me confused. Was it early morning but unusually sunny or was it the normal light from the middle of the afternoon? I sat up with beads of salty water flowing from the face to my shoulders within seconds. The clock read 3:24 in the afternoon but my body was still incredibly weak and tired. What time did I get home last night? It must've been late since I was still wearing my clothes from the day before. I managed to get out of my queen sized bed and once achieving balanced I raced to the window. My car wasn't parked out front. All I wanted was to see the bright blue glisten in the afternoon sun so I made my way to the hallway to catch a sneak peak outside the back of the house. It was no where to be found. Maybe I was so tired that Veronica had to drove me home.

I decided to brush my teeth before heading downstairs. Each stair creaked louder than the previous, making my arrival well known to my mom who probably was doing her crosswords on the kitchen table. I turned the corner of the downstairs hallway and took the first doorway on the right while I muttered,

"Mom where is my-"

"Happy birthday Lilly!" the crowd announced. I looked around with a confused and terrified look on my face. I took note of all the attendees... Uncle George, mom, three cousins, and the six people I knew from my summer job at The Apparel. Was my birthday such a big deal that I had to have a back-to-back celebration? Where was Veronica? Question after question flooded through my mind with no way of sorting. There was movement and an abundance of discussions and next thing I knew I was sitting back at the table with the cake smeared with vanilla icing and two lit candles in front of me. The song was sung once again, but it didn't look like they had done it the day before. Everyone was equally eager to sing to me.

"Make a wish!" my mother encouraged.

I quickly blew out the candles so I could get some sort of explanation for the double birthday bash. Once again the blue and red present was placed in front of me. If the previous day was just a dream than maybe this time it wouldn't be the lovely blue VW jetta key, but I hoped my dream would come through. Oddly enough it was a car key, but this time it was a Nissan key coated in a black covering.

"I got you a new car since well, the Volkswagen didn't make it."

Instantly I was confused. "The jetta? When did I get the jetta?"

Her hand brushed the hair out of my eyes while a hint of a smile crossed her face. The words were soft and hard to understand. "Lilly. I got you the VW for your 18th birthday." My eyes shot to the cake over on the counter beside Uncle George's hands. I squinted hoping to grasp the vision of the now flameless candles.

"19"