Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

Birthday Party

By Naima Saini

Someone else is turning 22 today. I think of you

on top of the monkey bars after we saw that movie in Davis.

I dream you come to visit and I make you a G&T

with light pink syrup. I dream you into a murder mystery

where the mystery is who’s dead and every time I

forget that it’s you for long enough you come back

for a while and I can talk to you. Tonight I’m thinking

of your beautiful cat who died five years ago. Someone says

the stages of grief weren’t ever actually meant to be

about anyone other than yourself. In the winter,

every morning triples the impending length of the day,

and I wonder how you would feel about it. In the spring—


I don’t know yet, actually. In the doorway, someone’s cigarette

threatens to ruin my slice of the birthday cake. I used to hate

how food tastes when someone nearby is smoking. But

I used to make an exception for you, and without you,

I keep making it. Would you find that stupid?

I’m not scared of driving on the highway anymore

but I don’t have any reason to go to Natick anymore.

When I am the last one awake, I think of the walk to your house

from Domino’s the night of my eighteenth birthday.

Everyone else had gone home, but we were always meandering,

and you were an eternal night owl, never rushing me to go.

You told me you had always suspected something wrong…

It turned into summer. Longer days. Never mind.


When you tried to cut bread straight from the freezer, ending up

with stitches, I did all your dishes because I wanted to believe

I could help. The truth was, we were older, and I kept

rushing away. But it was nice enough to eat on the porch,

which did not hold the same version of darkness

as that house did. You came to the bookstore, and listened

to my recommendations. You read my writing and said

kind things. I went back to school and it became September,

and after turning 22, you left immediately. But everyone else

just kept turning 22, one after another. I didn’t want it

to be my turn. But we all just kept having to get older


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