Midge was very busy ripping a candy bar wrapper into long, thin shreds when the door slammed open and a hulking shadow burst into the kitchen. “HELLO FRIEND,” it bellowed.
“Hi Greg,” she sighed. She smoothly tore off the final strip of plastic. She stared down at the mess of spaghettified wrappers on the table in front of her.
“I HAVE HEARD THAT IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY. AM I CORRECT IN THIS UNDERSTANDING?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Midge started to gather up all the trash she’d made. She’d eaten five Hershey’s chocolate bars in the last two hours and her idle hands had torn all their wrappers to shreds.
“THEN WHY ARE YOU NOT CELEBRATING? IT IS CUSTOMARY FOR YOUR KIND TO ENJOY FESTIVITIES ON THE ANNIVERSARIES OF THEIR BIRTHS, IS IT NOT?” The shadow cocked its head.
Midge just grunted and dumped the pile of brown plastic into the trash can. Greg observed this with eyes like red-hot coals. Midge didn’t mind. His eyes always did that.
Greg raised his hands to gesture stiffly at the trash can. “WAS THAT PART OF YOUR CELEBRATORY RITUAL?” he asked.
“You could say that.” She plopped back onto the chair, folded her arms on the table, and rested her head on top of them. Her arms (like the rest of her body) were covered with soft gray feathers that cushioned her head perfectly.
“YOU DO NOT SOUND VERY HAPPY. IS HAPPINESS NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE A 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY?'”
Midge said something that was too muffled to hear.
“I'M SORRY, I DID NOT UNDERSTAND THAT. COULD YOU REPEAT IT PLEASE?”
Midge groaned. Her stomach was cramping in pain from all that chocolate. She lifted her head so her beak-like nose and her chocolate-stained lips were above her arms. “Whatever. It’s not like I’m going to have a happy birthday anyway. The day’s already basically over.”
“IT IS ONLY 7:30 PM. WHICH MEANS THERE ARE STILL 4.5 HOURS LEFT IN THE DAY. THAT IS A SIGNIFICANT PERCENT OF YOUR DAILY WAKING HOURS.” Greg sat down in the chair across from Midge. The chair immediately caught on fire, but it was fine. Nothing Greg touched ever stayed burnt.
“Yeah, well I might just go to bed early.”
“I HAVE DEDUCED THAT YOU ARE NOT ENJOYING YOUR BIRTHDAY. I HAVE ALSO DEDUCED THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM. THEREFORE, IT IS MY DIRECTIVE TO FIX IT, AS YOU ARE MY FRIEND.”
“No, it’s really fine Greg. Birthdays aren’t important to me anyway. I’ve had like three hundred already. It’s fine.”
“YOU ARE STILL YOUNG FOR AN AVIAN HUMANOID,” Greg protested. “WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR TRADITIONS? I HAVE HEARD THAT FOLLOWING CUSTOMARY TRADITIONS GIVES FLESH-DWELLERS A SENSE OF HISTORY AND COMMUNITY.”
Midge rolled her eyes, but when Greg was silent, awaiting her answer, she relented. “Well, my ma would always bake us a seed cake, and then we’d light candles and sing.”
“I HAVE NEITHER SEED CAKES NOR CANDLES,” Greg said mournfully.
“Well you got the fire part down,” Midge said with a small smile.
“Wait, Greg, no, I didn’t mean-”
But it was too late. Greg had already set the entire room ablaze. She couldn’t help but let out a small, involuntary scream.
“I SEE THAT YOU ARE THRILLED AND EXCITED BY YOUR TRADITION,” said Greg, sounding pleased with himself. “NOW I SHALL SING.” A monotone rumbling filled the air. It sounded as if mountains could sing, or if oceans could sustain a note. There wasn’t a tune so much as a glide between notes too low to truly register. Part of Midge was disturbed and frightened that her windows were about to shatter, but the other part of her felt a deep, enduring calmness.
After what seemed like a small eternity, Greg ceased his singing. The room felt ethereally silent. Finally Midge smiled. "Thanks, big guy."
"DOES THIS NOW CONSTITUTE A 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' FOR YOU?"
"Yeah. Yeah I think so."