Eleven ended in an easy moment, wrapped in an unworn sweatshirt beneath a window of stars, gently swaying to the rhythm of soft music against a hard highway, and the last scream of roller coasters still warm upon his breath.
When he awoke there was 12 where the past used to be, a kite tethered to childhood and teen years on the wind. He had another bag of memories, freshly pressed and hastily folded, tied with a bow of tired twine, the only hint of dust and stain and a year lived fully. He would pack it with the others, the 10 that came before, though some had thinned and others all but faded.
“What do you want 12 to be?” I asked. “What do you hope for the year?”
“I want it to be fun,” he said. “Twelve sounds happy.”
And then we measured his height against a bright, yellow wall, the first mark in a line of many. He was as tall as he’d ever been, his smile wide and growing.
Happy birthday, Atticus, and all the days to come.