They all stare at me as they sing. Some of them mean it, I can tell. They’ve been here long enough and they know how I’m feeling right now. Some stare at me but don’t see me, their eyes as glassy and unfocused as mine must be. Most of them are off-key. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, and drunks are lucky to get any sort of birthday celebration at all.
I stare awkwardly down at the table and try to remember the last birthday I was actually sober. It certainly wasn’t this one.
I had planned to stop drinking by forty and if I had, I wouldn’t be spending the big four-oh in the hospital’s involuntary admittance program, listening to a bunch of strangers sing happy birthday instead of my family.
They all stop singing at different times and on different notes and I try to smile my thanks. My lips are dry and cracked. There’s no cake. Nobody hands me a cigar. I could use a drink.