Herald woke up early on the morning of his birthday. He was too excited to sleep. He leapt out of bed, ran to the kitchen, and opened up the refrigerator. It was full of drinks and snacks for his party. He looked in the closet. It was full of decorations and balloons for the party.
Herald was so excited, he couldn’t stay still. The party was 8 hours away! What would he do all day to pass the time?
Herald called his friend Theo.
“Hello. Theo?” said Herald.
“Good morning, Herald. Happy Birthday to you!” said Theo.
“Thank you! You’re coming to my party tonight, right Theo?” asked Herald.
“Yes, of course, Herald. I’ve told you I was coming every time you asked me, which was every day for the past two weeks,” answered Theo.
“Theo?” said Herald.
“Yes Herald?” said Theo.
“What am I going to do until the party? I can’t bear the idea of sitting around waiting,” said Herald.
“Would you like me to come over? We could go to the park or take a walk,” said Theo.
“Would you? Oh thank you. That would be wonderful,” said Herald, and hung up the phone.
Herald busied himself making breakfast, then ate breakfast, then got nervous about the party and was starting to make another breakfast when Theo knocked at the door.
Herald answered the door and invited Theo into the kitchen.
“Oh, I see you are making breakfast. May I join you? I haven’t eaten yet either,” said Theo.
Herald was a bit embarrassed that he had already had a breakfast, but thought it best not to mention it. He fixed Theo a wonderful meal of biscuits, fresh fruit, sautéed onions and acorns, and oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon.
“This is wonderful!” said Theo. “Thank you so much for a delicious breakfast.”
Theo helped Herald clean up the kitchen and wash the dishes, then the two of them headed out of the house.
“Where shall we go first?” said Herald.
“It’s your birthday. You choose,” said Theo.
“I think I’d like to go to the park and watch the toy sailboats in the pond,” said Herald.
They walked through the neighborhood to a park with wide sweeping hills dotted with ginkgo trees. There were benches everywhere, and Herald had to try them all out. He came up with a game to play. Each time they stopped to sit on a bench, Herald would ask Theo to tell him one new thing about himself that Herald didn’t know. Then Herald would try to tell Theo something about himself that Theo didn’t know. The game got harder as they went from bench to bench, because they already knew a lot about each other.
On the last bench before the pond, Herald asked Theo if they should go back to the house and start setting up for the party.
“There’s plenty of time for that,” said Theo. “Let’s keep heading towards the pond and get your mind off the party.”
They finally arrived at the pond. There were dozens of little sailboats floating around, and their owners were running around the edge of the pond trying to follow them. The two friends watched for a long time.
“What shall we do next, Theo?” asked Herald.
“How about going for a walk in the woods?” said Theo.
They set off for the woods and were soon walking among giant firs and oaks.
“Do you think there will be a lot of people at my party, Theo?”
“I suspect so,” said Theo.
“I wonder what kind of cake there will be. Mrs. Neem, from next door, said she was going to bake me a cake, but wouldn’t tell me what kind.”
“I’m sure it will be delicious. She is a very good baker,” said Theo.
They walked in silence for a while. Theo enjoyed the smell of the firs and the sound of the birds, and Herald daydreamed about the cake that Mrs. Neem was baking for him.
“Maybe we should head back now, Theo. It seems to be getting late,” said Herald.
“Ok, Herald. Maybe you are right,” said Theo.
“Which way is home?” said Herald. “I haven’t been paying attention. I was so excited about the party and thinking about the cake.”
“Let’s try this path here. It’s bound to take us to a road or neighborhood somewhere,” said Theo.
As they walked, Herald got more nervous about not having time to set up for the party, or worse, missing the party altogether.
“Don’t worry Herald, we will get back in time. I am sure of it,” said Theo.
They walked around for what felt like hours to Herald. He wasn’t exactly sure, but it seemed like he kept seeing the same trees and flowers.
“Do you think maybe we are walking in circles?”
“Oh, I am sure this is the way, Herald.”
They walked some more until Theo stopped and looked up at the sun, then looked down a small path off to the side.
“Ah. Here we are. It’s this way, Herald.”
They walked down the little path and quickly came out of the woods right in front of Herald’s house.
Herald ran up to his front door. He was never so happy to be home. He opened the door and stepped through.
“Surprise!!” Dozens of people greeted Herald. They had gifts in their hands, party hats on their heads, and smiles on their faces. Herald looked around and saw that the whole house was beautifully decorated with all of the decorations that had been in the closet.
Herald thanked everyone for coming, then turned to Theo and said, “How did you do this?”
“Well,” said Theo, “we all wanted to throw you a surprise party, but we knew you were planning on throwing the party yourself, so we all met and decided I would distract you on your birthday to get you out of the house so the decorating could happen.”
“But Theo, how did you know I would call you?” said Herald.
“Because you always call me on your birthday and tell me you can’t wait for the party,” said Theo.
Herald was overwhelmed and he was so happy he started to cry. The crowd around Herald parted, and Mrs. Neem walked through with a giant chocolate and raspberry cake alit with rainbow sparklers.
“Blow out the sparklers and make a wish!” everyone shouted.
Herald blew, but he did not make a wish. This was the perfect birthday, and he couldn’t think of anything better than the way things were right now.