Hardy hopes with ever bitter fibre of his being that no one finds out when his birthday is, especially Ellie. He mostly stays at home waiting for Daisy to call; sometimes he’ll take himself out for dinner. Nothing too fancy though, just something so he doesn’t have to cook.
Ellie doesn’t let on that she knows when his birthday is. She plays it cool and casually invites him over for dinner that night. He tries to brush it off, but when she asks what else he has planned he can’t think of an excuse, so he agrees. He’s paranoid that she’s found out. He braces himself for balloons when she opens the door, but there are none.
They have dinner and everything seems normal. He relaxes. Daisy called him earlier in the day, so he’s not constantly checking his phone like he usually would.
Ellie disappears into the kitchen after to get dessert. Hardy sips his tea.
His heart stops when he thinks he hears the click of a lighter.
He listens. It’s silent.
“Are you ready?” Ellie calls from the kitchen.
He sees the flicker of the candle light before she emerges.
“Happy Birthday to you-”
“Happy Birthday to you-” (she sings louder)
The candle on the cake isn’t shaped like a number. It’s the word “old” with one wick sprouting up from the L.
He buries his face in his hands.
“Happy Birthday dear Hardy. Happy Birthday to you!”
She sets the cake down in front of him and waits.
“Oh come on. You have to blow out the candle.”
He looks up at her, not amused.
With one swift breath he extinguishes the candle.