“Chronologically, you’re seventeen,” she says to her reflection in the mirror. A little slip of a girl in nothing but her underwear, with pale skin, long brown hair, and tired blue eyes. “Physically, you’re still sixteen.” She lifts the cigarette in her fingers to her lips and takes a drag. A song plays in the background. “Happy seventeenth birthday, Andromeda. Nothing has changed.” She exhales a puff of smoke at the mirror. “Nothing has changed at all.”
In fact – if she had been honest enough to admit it – everything had changed. A year ago today she had everything. She had everything and she didn’t even know it until it had all slipped through her fingers.
Andromeda Black, your life is a tragedy. Admit it.
But she didn’t want to. Not today. Not on her birthday. She lies down on the bed, and looks up at the ceiling. She hums along to the song that’s playing. This was all she wanted today – to lie still and pretended that the world stood still with her. She just wanted a break from it all. One day. That was all she needed.
“Andromeda, get dressed,” comes her mother’s voice from outside her bedroom door. She doesn’t answer.
“I know you can hear me.”
She groans, loud enough for her mother to hear.
“Do you want me to come in and get you dressed for you?”
Andromeda doesn’t doubt this. It’s happened before. “Mother, we talked about this. I don’t want to do anything today. And your birthday present to me would be letting me do just that.”
“Well, your father and I thought of a better present, dear,” replied her mother.
Andromeda wanted to swear at her. Throw a tantrum. Anything to get her mother to leave her alone. She was about to, actually – until she heard what else her mother had to say.
“The Carrows are coming over for dinner.”
Her heart sank. The cigarette in her hand dropped to the floor. “Fuck.”