Hailey Stoner, “Happy Birthday, Baby”

I cup my hand around the wax number four atop the cupcake,
protecting the flame. I can still feel you, but it’s a stinging phantom
pain. Eyelashes tick my chest as you fall asleep to my heartbeat.
Tiny hands tug my pant leg, reaching for my fingers. The back door
slides open. “Up early today?” My ears ring with what I imagine
your first cry would’ve sounded like. First laugh. First, I love you. A
wind gust eats the flame, and I drop the cupcake into the trashcan
before he sees. Before we must start another day without you.

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