There was a ringing in the middle of the night, scaring me out of a dead sleep. My eyes flew open and I looked around my room for the source of the sound. At first I thought it was the fire alarm and my heart jumped. Then I saw the lights on my phone flashing and relaxed.
I reached out, feeling my way across the smooth wood until I felt the cool plastic covering of my phone. It vibrated against my hand and made my bones tingle. I slid it across my dresser and into my hand. Then I slipped my thumb underneath the top and flipped the screen open. My eyes slowly adjusted to the bright light in my face until I could read that I had a message from Sophie. I pressed a circular button on my phone and the message appeared. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRACE!!! ~ SOPHIE."
"Thanks a lot Sophie," I mumbled. Sophie and I had been friends since we were five. She had just moved into the neighborhood and we carpooled to kindergarten and every grade since. I remember hating her at first, something about borrowing my coloring book and never returning it. That was all resolved though when I found the book underneath my bed and she gave me a cooler one and a packet of markers for my birthday.
Closing the message, I looked at the time. Sure enough it was 12:02, officially my birthday. Sophie obviously couldn't wait until morning to tell me. I turned off my phone so I wouldn't get anymore late night messages and set it on my dresser. I laid on my back, trying to make out the ceiling in the near impenetrable dark of my room. I was about to fall back asleep when my phone rang again.
I tried ignoring it, but it was too loud to fall asleep with and my parents were in the next room. I rolled onto my side as quickly as my tired body would let me and grabbed it off of the dresser again. I flipped it open. Then I realized I had turned it off. The screen was still black but it was ringing. I continued to stare at it dumbly until I realized it was ringing loudly and my parents might wake up. I reasoned something must be wrong with my phone. I would tell my parents in the morning and we would go get it fixed. I pressed the green answer button on the left side of the phone and held it to my ear. "Hello," I whispered into the phone. "Sophie?"
"No, not Sophie," the caller said. I jumped, realizing I hadn't expected anyone to be on the other line. I took my phone away from my ear and glanced at the dark screen again. I didn't recognize the voice and couldn't think of anyone who would give my number away like that.
"Who are you? How did you get my number?" Sometimes it is better to not beat around the bush and I was scared. What person calls someone they don't even know in the middle of the night? It was creeping me out even more that my phone was acting up at the same time. I stood up and walked to my door, opening it as if I suspected someone to be outside. I looked down the hall but my parent's door was still closed.
"You will find out who I am soon, but in the meantime I have a message for you," she, the voice was definitely feminine, said. I walked back into my room, flicking on my light and closing my door. The clock said it was twelve thirty and I yawned despite myself. I wanted to hang up but my curiosity overcame me.
"From who?" I sat back down on the edge of my bed and wrapped my free arm around my chest. Then I had an idea. I stood up and looked out my window to see if anyone was standing out there, maybe the woman on the phone.
"You won't find me outside," the woman said and I whirled around, my heart racing. I almost expected her to be standing in my room, like some horror movie, but no one was there either. I felt like I was stuck in a nightmare. "This isn't meant to scare you. Quite the opposite," she said patiently and I realized I still had the phone to my ear.
"What message," I asked. "From who?" Maybe if she told me, the conversation would end and I could go back to sleep.
"You will find who it's from later. In the meantime, you will learn some shocking information soon, although I can't be the one to tell you. All I can tell you is to go with your gut and you will be fine," she said. I was so confused I couldn't even respond. It was okay because I didn't need to.
"I'll see you soon Grace." After that the line went dead and I set my phone down.
"Weird," I mumbled and lay back down. I fell back asleep quickly, before I could think about what just happened.
I woke up that morning, not remembering the dream. All I knew was that I was finally fifteen. I walked downstairs in my pajamas which consisted of cheer shorts and an over sized T-shirt. As soon as I walked into view of my parents, my dad took a quick picture of me with his expensive camera. He was a professional photographer.
"No dad! I just woke up!" He snapped a few more photos anyways of me covering my face with my hands. I peeked out from behind my hands and saw that he was setting down the camera on the table. I finished walking down the stairs then
"Happy birthday honey!" My mom came over and gave me a tight hug. My dad whipped up the camera and took another picture. "Come open your presents!" I did and my dad took pictures of me opening my new clothes, jewelry and gift cards.
"Thank you so much," I said, giving my parents hugs. "I love them." The rest of the morning was spent getting ready for my party. By noon I had vacuumed, swept, dusted and washed just about everything. Then I had to get myself ready. I put on a new outfit and a pair of new earrings. I finally put on make-up, mascara and foundation. My cell phone was still sitting on the dresser and I glanced at it briefly, remembering Sophie's late night text. I vaguely remembered a dream about getting a phone call but I pushed it to the back of my mind as I picked up my phone and shoved it in my pocket.
While I was getting ready, my dad went and got the mail. He called me down, sounding frantic. I ran downstairs and he handed me an envelope addressed to me. It was from my brother Seth, who we hadn't heard from in ages. My parents sat in front of me, watching as I opened it. I opened the letter quickly, just as anxious as my parents. Seth was five years older than me and two years ago had left to go to college. Two months later he was expelled and working at a gas station for minimum wage. Then, the beginning of this year, he moved and we lost all contact with him.
Inside the envelope was a card that said Happy Birthday in bright yellow letters. I opened and a hundred dollars fell out. So Seth had money now, which was surprising. I set the money aside and read his note. "Happy Birthday Grace. Tell Mom and Dad I say hi. –Seth." I read it aloud for my parents and they seemed disappointed by the shortness and lack of information.
I looked at the envelope again and saw there was no return address. "Wow," I said, looking up at my parents. My mom was crying and, trying to politely ignore it, I picked up the money. The dollars were crisp and new, like they had just been taken from the bank. Did he have a bank account? A steady job? Was he happy?
"I'm sure he's fine," my dad said and my mom nodded, walking out of the room. The doorbell rang then and I opened the door to see Sophie with a huge present wrapped for me but, knowing her, it might only be a gift card in that huge bag. I took it anyways, with a smile and a hug. "Happy birthday," she said, grinning and wrapping an arm around my slim shoulders. She looked at me with a concerned look but I just shrugged, my eyes telling her I'd explain later.
"Funny, I could have sworn you had already told me that, maybe in the late night text I got last night," I said sarcastically, changing the subject, and she grinned sheepishly. I saw some of my other friends walking up and decided to tell her about the card later. She was one of the only people who knew all about Seth.
"You know me," she said shrugging innocently. "I had to be the first person to tell you."
"Sounds like the Sophie I know," I said, slipping out from underneath her arm and greeting my friends who had just walked up. Over the next twenty minutes I walked back and forth between the door and the kitchen, letting people in. The party was great and after everyone arrived, my mom came downstairs, looking happier and more composed. She was able to play the generous hostess and I was able to forget about the card for a while but I could feel the underlying tension. The party ended late and after putting all the food away, Sophie and I went up to my room and fell asleep watching a movie.