Authors: Kristy Centeno
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright © 2011 Kristy Centeno
Cover art by Bret Poinier
is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places,
any events or locales is purely coincidental. The names, characters, places and
incidents are products of the writer’s imagination and are not to be construed
of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the
express written permission from the publisher LazyDay, with the exception of
quotes used in reviews and critical articles.
First and foremost, I want to thank
the five more important persons in my life for always being there. For
supporting me at all times and believing in me. Without you, I wouldn’t have
made it this far. You guys were my cheering team from the very beginning.
Abe, Gordo, Chris, Nely, and Dylan
I love you.
Of course, without the wonderful
crew from Lazy Day Publishing, Enchanter wouldn’t have been converted from a
dream to a reality.
Thank you so much for giving
Enchanter a permanent home.
That Tuesday morning started just like every other, and as I
readied myself for another long day of boring classes at Direct City Community College,
the thought of how much my life was about to change never occurred to me at
As usual, I got up as soon as the alarm clock went off, took
a shower, dressed, brushed my teeth and hair, and applied enough makeup so that
I had a presentable appearance ready to face the outside world beyond the two-bedroom
apartment I resided in.
After locating my oversized purse on top of the computer
desk at one corner of my bedroom, I pocketed my house keys and cellphone in my
shorts’ front pocket, and headed out the door to the dining area where my
roommate, Matt, was waiting to have breakfast with me.
“Well, hello, gorgeous,” he greeted me with a smile.
“Good morning Matt.” I returned his smile. “What’s for
“Your favorite.” He gestured toward the dining table where
two plates filled with omelet, white toast, and a few slices of fruit lay
accompanied by two glasses of orange juice.
“Wow, you really went all out.” Impressed, I placed my purse
on the couch before continuing on to the small table at the other side of the
room. “What’s the special occasion?”
“What? Are you serious?” he asked, frowning and looking at
me as if I had lost my mind. “You’re joking with me, aren’t you?”
His frown increased in intensity. “Sit down.” He gestured to
my usual seat.
“What am I forgetting?”
“Oh, nothing much.” He sighed. “Just your birthday!” he screamed,
and I almost choked on my orange juice.
“Jesus, Matt!” I glared at him. “You scared me.”
“Tell me.” He took the seat opposite of mine. “How does one
forget what is probably the most important birthday of their lives?”
“Big deal, so I’m turning twenty-one today, woo-hoo.”
“Someone’s in a grouchy mood today.”
To be honest, I was perfectly fine until he reminded me that
I was officially an adult in
eyes now. True, you are considered
to be an adult at the age of eighteen, but the law still limits the amount of
activities you can do at that age. At twenty-one, people tend to take you more
seriously than when your age still has a big fat
at the end.
However, birthdays were never a source of celebration for me
because they reminded me of a part of my past I wanted to forget. Most people
would want to celebrate such an anniversary because it signifies independence,
but I had been independent for so long that it did not matter anymore.
As I picked at my delicious-smelling breakfast and tried to
avoid the subject about the anniversary of my birth, I took to observing Matt,
who aside from being my roommate was also my best friend. Oddly enough, when I
first met him, I had another picture of what kind of relationship we could have
in mind. As it turns out, things did not exactly go as I imagined, but
everything worked out in the end. So I had no complaints.
The first time I met Matt was during a party I attended while
still in my senior year of high school. He came over to me and struck up a conversation
just minutes after I walked in through Marcy McKinley’s front door. At first, I
thought he was flirting with me and I was immediately flattered that I had caught
an older guy’s fancy. Matt was a year older than me and a college freshman, so I
was instantly smitten by the attention he showered me with.
However, much to my disappointment, later that night I found
out he was actually dating Marcy’s older brother. I did not suspect a thing
until I actually saw him kiss his date goodbye right before he offered to drive
me home. Up until that moment, I had no clue he was into guys. Hell, there was
nothing about him that screamed his sexuality so I assumed— Well, I made the
wrong assumption about him.
In spite of my disappointment, I still gave him my phone
number and was pleasantly surprised when he called the very next day. It is safe
to say that we have been inseparable ever since.
Because our friendship blossomed, I moved out of my
childhood home and into Matt’s apartment as soon as I turned eighteen. Such was
my life, but I did not have any regrets about moving in with Matt. We had the
type of friendship not many experience, and I valued that about us.
“Why don’t you enlighten me and say why the word birthday is
so offensive to you?” Matt assessed my face as he spoke.
“Then why don’t you ever want to celebrate your birthday?” he
“I hate adding another year to my age.”
“You’re really going to pull that for another year, huh?”
“The, I’m-fine-when-I’m-really-not, scheme. It’s the same
one every year.” He was right and I knew it. “That excuse is getting old, Leah.
You might want to come up with another, more convincing one.”
Despite my persistent stubbornness in wanting to avoid the
subject altogether, I realized that if there was one person in the world that
should hear about my no-celebrating-my-birthday rule, it should be him. Matt
was the closest thing to a brother I had and he really cared for me. Much more
than my own mother ever did.
“You know I never celebrate my birthday,” I said.
“Yes, but you’ve never told me why. I mean, here I am,
thinking that I know everything there is to know about you, yet this one
subject still eludes my comprehensive grasp.”
“Nice communication skills.”
“You like it, don’t you?” He grinned and I nodded. “Good,
now back to the subject. When are you going to break that icy wall and tell me
what’s really going on and how come we have to go through this odd conversation
“I’m sorry, Matt. You’re absolutely right.”
“So, tell me. Why is your birthday always a taboo subject?”
“What I’m about to tell you does not leave this room.”
He gave me one of those looks that clearly said, ‘are you
kidding me with this?’ and I smiled and shook my head. “Sorry, for a second
there I forgot who I was talking to.”
“Yeah, thanks for that.”
“The reason why I never celebrate my birthday – never even
make a point of remembering it – is because this specific day also marks the day
my father committed suicide.”
Matt dropped the fork that was halfway to his mouth. “What?”
“Yeah, he wasn’t a very happy man at the time and he
thought…” I hesitated, already feeling the sting of fresh tears fighting to be
set free. “There were a lot of things that made him unhappy and he just
couldn’t take the pressure…” I had to pause for a second or two.
“You don’t have to keep talking, Leah.”
“It’s okay, Matt. Talking about it seems to help some.”
“Everything kind of piled up all at once. First he lost his
job. Then, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t find a decent one that
would help support the kind of lifestyle we were used to. By then, he suspected
my mother was cheating on him, and to add salt to the growing wound, my mother
asked for a divorce.”
Matt frowned as he listened to my tale. “Now I know why you and
your mom don’t get along. How old were you when this all happened?”
“And you knew your parents’ marriage was having trouble?”
“They were obvious about it. They argued a lot, mostly while
I was around, so I heard everything.” I shrugged. “Anyway, I found him on the
afternoon of my eighth birthday. Since then, I don’t celebrate any of them
because it feels like I’m celebrating his death.”
“Gee. Leah, I’m so sorry.”
“That’s life, I guess.”
He reached out for my hand and I extended mine so that they
“I thought… I sometimes wonder if he loved me enough—”
“Don’t, Leah, it’s not worth it.” His strong but gentle
squeeze of my hand was very comforting. “We don’t always know why our parents
do the things they do. Your father loved you, but he made a horrible choice.
You, however, can’t live the rest of your life thinking about why he decided to
take the bad road out of his problems. I think you’ve mourned his death enough
and you should let go of what happened and start living beyond that tragedy.”
Deep down inside, I knew Matt was right. I had to let go of
the past, but the sight of my father’s lifeless body wasn’t something I could
My father meant everything to me. He used to be my rock, the
one person who cared enough for me to actually tuck me in bed at night and read
me a story. After he ended his life, I was pretty much alone. My mother started
working two jobs to support us, so she was never home. And when she
all the attention went to her new boyfriend. There was no room left for me so I
learned how to take care of myself at an early age. Once I had a valid excuse
to get out of the house, I did.