The surprise

He looked up at his grubby shell oil calendar and noticed he’d only written in a tiny ‘me’ in the square for Friday this week. He didn’t want mum to feel she had to do do anything. Days were so much easier with nothing in the calendar.

He crept along the corridor, glancing at her closed door. He got himself a bowl of sugar puffs (a half-price offer this week), brushed his teeth without turning the taps on too loudly and then tip-toed out the front door to school.


It was Judy. She always cheerily waved when she met him every day. He reached into his pocket and checked they were still there.

He passed the sweets over and they popped one each in their mouths, undoing their recent tooth-brushing with an early morning sugar surge.

“This is new! Why you got these today?”

He grinned and tapped his nose,

“Special occasion.”

Judy skipped in front of him and faced him. He sidestepped her and winked,

“You have to guess.”

“Cos it’s a Friday?”


“You nicked em?”

Judy’s eyes narrowed then widened,

“It’s your birthday!”

Matthew nodded and laughed. Judy punched him on the arm,

“You should have told me! Wait!”

She ran over to the roadside and came back with a dandelion, handing it over to him, curtseying.

“Many happy returns!”

Matthew tucked the flower into his pocket and hid his warm cheeks.

No-one said anything in school but he didn’t mind. It was Jack’s birthday too and his mum had sent in a shop-bought spaceship swiss-roll. It had too much icing with funny silver balls on so Matthew passed. The teacher got everyone to sing over the cake. No-one sang ‘Jack and Matthew’ but that was ok.

When he got home his mum flung the front door open, grabbed him and kissed his head,

“Happy birthday, best boy in the world!”

She took his hand and led him to the kitchen stopping him at the door,

“Close your eyes and hold out your hands!”

Matthew liked the smells in the kitchen this day. He put his hands out, felt a plate being thrust into them and looked.

It was slightly wonky and the small amount of icing was not put on very well but when he saw it, a grin spread over his face.

“A topsy turvy cake from your topsy turvy mummy!”

Matthew hugged his mum for ages then. All the spaceships in the world could not top how happy he felt right this very moment.

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