Chapter 10:

Happy birthday...

With Your Last Heartbeat

I opened my eyes in the morning, for the first time having eighteen years old. That night, I had slept like I have never ever slept before. It took me a couple of seconds to realize where I was, and then I could react. Not forgetting anything that had happened the day before, I jumped out of bed with joy.

"Woooo," I said as I threw my pillow up, then caught it in my arms.

After washing my face and teeth, taking off my pajamas and putting on my school uniform, I paid special attention to how I looked. I carefully combed my hair until it was perfectly straight....

"Ow... God, it always gets so tangled when I sleep," I said after snagging the comb.

...I applied moisturizers to make my skin look better than ever, and applied a little bit of makeup to cover up some imperfections. Not too much, since I didn't like to weigh myself down and it wasn't allowed by school rules either, but just a few touches to highlight what I already was on my own. I spent several minutes looking at myself in the mirror, while smiling goofily.

"Ahhh... yes, I love it... ahhh"

With every move I made, I was amazed at how pretty I looked. I felt that I was, rightly, cuter than ever. One of the thoughts I had at that moment, for just a few moments, was that in the last few weeks that was not happening to me, even though I have been the same person since then. Funny.

"Good morning, Mom, Dad," I greeted them with a smile, as I hopped into the living room.

"Good morning, birthday girl," my mother said to me, sitting sipping her tea.

"We prepared toast, which we know you like so much. Come here, let's go, they're getting cold," my father followed her, reading his newspaper.

"I'm coming... haha, good morning, Dayo. You're so cute..." I crouched down when I felt my little dog jump towards me.

I had breakfast with all my family before going to school. I ate the toast that I loved so much, accompanied by a delicious coffee with milk. I started the morning with lots of energy, which I would need to be able to resist the exciting day ahead of me. And, besides, I was going to leave my house with a very nice present.

"Clara, wait. We have something for you," my mother called as I was about to open the door.

"Huh? Really?"

A white shopping bag was brought to me, inside of which was my gift. I opened the bag and took it out, spreading out the fabric. It was a beautiful dress, white as snow, with small embroideries of the same color and finely defined seams.

"Wow, a dress!"

"I hope you like it, Clara. We picked it out together, although I don't have much experience in women's clothing. Buying clothes for you was always complicated," my father laughed.

"We know you have one that's quite similar, but you're always wearing dresses like this, so we thought you might like it."

True, I had another white dress that was very similar, but this one seemed much nicer and more elegant than the other one. Besides... with the other dress on I had gone on the date at the aquarium with Leo. Just thinking about it made this dress even cuter.

"I love it, thank you so much," I said as I ran to hug them.

"We're glad you liked it, Clarita," my dad said to me.


I took a few steps back to return to my previous position, and smiled openly at them as I placed my purse ahead of me, holding it with both of my hands.

... I might just wear it today," I said letting out a sweet chuckle.

My parents seemed attracted to my expression, which they looked at very carefully before smiling, almost in unison.

"Well then, I'm off," I advised as I opened the door, after leaving the package in my father's hands.


I was surprised that again my mother was calling me. She turned to hurriedly look for something in the kitchen, and returned at a brisk pace.

"Here, this is for you too."


I stood for a few seconds staring at the little surprise, which I also could not have imagined receiving. I took it and, unlike the dress, carried it to school more than happy.

Back at school, the day went exactly as I would have imagined it. Of course, as I would have imagined only since a few days ago.

"Clarichiiiiiiiiii! Happy birthday, beautiful," Sofia surprised me as she frantically hugged me from behind at the school entrance.

"Hey! Thanks, Sofi, but you really surprised me!", I told her as I laughed.

"Did you see my message, did you see it," she asked me excitedly.

It was obvious that she had read it, if I had even responded to her after doing so. Despite that evidence, Sofia looked like a puppy excited to have her head petted.

"Yes, I saw it. Thank you...truth be told, it put me in a very good mood."

Again, I was flashing my big smile at someone that day, which didn't seem to go away. Sofia was a front-page witness to it.

"Ayyyyy, you're so cute," she said as she swooped down to pinch my cheeks again.

"God, stop it," I kept telling her as I tried to defend myself.

"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, Clarichi, happy birthday to you!"

More singing and cheering could be heard in the classroom, as the moment I walked in the whole class started singing happy birthday to me. I noticed that they called me 'Clarichi'... my God, I'm sure that was Sofia's silly idea. It seemed like they already had it prepared. After that, little by little they came closer to me.

"Happy birthday, Clara," Jennifer was saying to me.

"Happy birthday," Marcos was also saying.

"I hope you have a great time," came another girl, named Wendy.

As they surrounded me with their congratulations, I felt happier and happier.

"Thank you all, guys. Ah, wait a second..."

The class was intrigued to see me trying to get something out of my bag. Between my hands, a plastic noise began to be heard, which became clearer when I pulled out the plastic bag, which, inside, contained freshly baked cookies.

"Here, these are for you. You can have one," I said, offering them the bag.

At that instant, all the kids screamed with joy, trying to get even closer to me to grab their cookie.

"Thank you so much, Clara," said Esteban, who sat in front of me.

"They are delicious," rejoiced Lara, with whom I used to play cards.

"They're chocolate, yummy," celebrated Agustín, who used to be one of the most studious in the class.

Seeing the kids I had paid so much attention to so happy about something I had done filled me with joy. As everyone became really close to me and tried to help me, I have had in my mind the thought of giving something back to them someday, and this was somewhat of a nice start.

"Alright guys, take a seat... come on, Clara," the science teacher, who had introduced me to the class that first time, asked my permission.

"Oh, good morning teacher Estela. Here, have a cookie," I offered.

"Oh, really? Thank you very much. Happy birthday, Clara."

As I handed the cookie to the teacher, Sofia watched the whole situation from her bench, smiling. She rested her gaze on me as she walked the path to my desk.

"Well done."

"Thank you, Sofia."

I started pulling my notebooks out of my bag, and as I finished, I could see that Sofia was looking at me as usual, but now pouting slightly while her eyes penetrated my soul.



I didn't understand what was wrong. I wondered if it was something about my clothes or something I didn´t tell her... when I realized.

"Oh, sorry. Here, take your cookie."

While I was the center of attention many people had crowded close to me, and Sofia, who had already greeted me and was always talking to me, had stayed back to make room. That's why I hadn't been able to give it to her, and now I was holding out my arm to her to do so. She took it quickly.

"Thank you," she said somewhat embarrassed.

"Fufu, how cute," I said laughing at her reaction.

"Shut up. It just felt weird that you forgot your best friend..." she said, a little embarrassed, as she took a bite of the cookie, "Mmm, it's really yummy," she blurted out as her face changed completely.

Again, I was ticked off at her comment. She called me... best friend. I had never had one before. Again, many feelings welled up inside me, without exactly knowing how to react at them.

"Of course not...your best friend would never have forgotten about you."

I generated exactly the same feeling in her. Her eyes widened and her cheeks blushed, even more than they had during the entire conversation. After a few seconds of being delusional, she smiled again.

"I'm glad to hear that... did you make them?"


I remembered the situation at my house earlier today, when I was about to leave and my mother handed me the package.

"Huh? What are they?"

"They're cookies. I made them this morning. You can take them to class and share them with your classmates. I'm sure they'll like them."

"Ohhh...okay, but...shouldn't I have made them," I asked guiltily.

If I was to hand them in those cookies, it would have been logical if I would have made them myself. I guess that was the real meaning behind that.

"Mmm... maybe, but it's another surprise for you. If you still want to make some cookies, then let's barter and you help me make more this weekend, is that okay with you?"

The idea had now delighted me. Not only could I bring something to class, but I was excited to help her make cookies and be with her. Even more so after Sofia made me want to learn how to bake.

"Yes! Thank you, Mom," I said as I took the package.

"I see. Well, it's a very nice gesture anyway...huh? Look, you had one left over!"

Sofia pointed out to me that there was a leftover cookie in the package. It looked like my mother had made a few too many.

"Oh, you're right."

"Well, if you don't have anyone to give it to, you can give it to me too, hehe," laughed Sofia, who had already eaten hers, though I knew she meant it.

"Sure, here you go-"

I was about to hand her the last cookie, chocolate and covered with some colorful sprinkles, when I remembered something. My arm stopped, and after a few seconds, I pulled it back.

"I'm sorry...but I wanted to give it to someone."

"Huh? Aw, how mean you are. Who do you want to give it to other than your beautiful friend?" Sofia lamented and at the same time joked.

"Well, it's just that finally..."

As I told her a little embarrassed about what had happened, Sofia's eyes grew wider and wider, seeming to have no limit.

"Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh," Sofia shouted as she stood up from her desk, banging on the table and making a lot of noise with her chair. The whole class heard her and looked at her.

"Galván! We are in class, be quiet!" the teacher said visibly angry.

"Sorry!" she said as she apologized by leaning forward.

She quickly sat back down, and without paying attention to the class for even a millisecond, she spoke to me again, trying not to let the teacher hear her.

"What do you mean you're going to see him today?" she whispered loudly to me.

"It's just that... he wrote me yesterday for my birthday... and asked me to see him in a cafe," I did the same as her.

"In a cafe?"

"Yes. He told me it was important for me to see him."

Sofia seemed to feel dumbfounded at that last sentence. Apparently, she perceived it as a miraculous sign.

"Maybe he realized that he misses you very much and wants to see you. Well, in any case, good for you. So it looks like you'll be busy today"

I noticed some melancholy in her eyes as she looked forward again, despite wearing a big smile. The reason why flashed through my mind almost an instant later.

"Still, Sofia... I'd love to have ice cream with you today. Shall we go later? Oh, and I'll make some more cookies this weekend, so I'll give you as many as you want" I said before winking at her.

The gleam returned to her eyes like two phoenixes rising from the ashes. I could tell she was happy too by the gigantic widening of his smile.

"Yes! Come on!" she said again without being able to control her voice.

"Galván! Stop it!"

The teacher shouted again, again infuriated by the interruptions of that energetic girl.

"I'm sorry!" she apologized again, while on my part I let out a giggle.

Surrounded by illusion and feeling like I was in a fairy tale, the day went on. After school, we went with Sofia for ice cream near the school. Living up to her enthusiasm, she kept telling me possible scenarios for the date I was going to have, to which I laughed uncontrollably, until she had to leave for work again.

That was my cue to go back to my house to get ready for the night. I spent, again, a lot of time getting ready. I took a bath, paying special attention to beautifying my skin, and reapplied moisturizers and a little bit of makeup. I came out of the bath with the towel wrapped around me, and watched how on my bed was the new dress I was going to wear. I happily slipped it on, and as I looked in the mirror, I felt more beautiful than ever.

"How cute," I said, closing my eyes in excitement.

I combed my hair, now silkier than ever, so that it fell gently behind my shoulders, and when I finished, I looked at myself in the mirror again. Seeing myself like this, with a silky white dress, snow-white skin and my long silky hair, I was completely dazzled. I felt... like an angel.

"Ahh... let´s go," I reassured myself in front of the mirror, full of illusion at feeling so pretty.

I walked out of my room, already on my way to the door, when I passed my parents in the living room. From the outside, even if I couldn't notice, my way of walking became more radiant and secure.

"Are you going out, Clara," my mother was surprised.

"Yes. I'll be back later."

"Huh? But-"

I heard my mother wanted to say something, as if she was about to oppose my plan again. This time, however, she stopped mid-sentence, as she looked at me entertainedly. She turned to her left to see my father, who smiled at her for reassurance, then looked back at me.

"It's okay. Just don't come back so late, okay?"

I had experienced this situation many, many times in my life, but it had never ended like this. I could feel that my life was truly changing, and that, despite the worries, everything was getting a little easier. I can't deny that I was overcome with satisfaction in those moments, which was masked by my beaming smile, which was bigger.

"Okay. Thanks, Mom, Dad."

I walked toward the hops toward the door, when I heard their voices again.

"Clara..." my father called to me from the couch.


I turned to look at him, as he looked up at me smiling.

"You look really pretty today."

My cheeks turned bright red again. Just because of the last few days, they already looked like the lights of a traffic light.

"Thank you," I smiled back, still flushed.

On the way to the coffee shop, already at night, I sang and hummed all the way. Sometimes I even did a few little jumps, as if I were trying to dance awkwardly, followed by some twirling if there weren't too many people around. Amidst a ball of cute feelings, I walked slowly and joyfully to where I was going to meet Leo.

"It was here, wasn't it," I wondered as I tried to see the brightly lit sign for the cafe.

I remember arriving much earlier than I had thought, having been distracted as I walked. The sign didn't lie: 'Café Alba,' it said enormously. I quickly glanced inside, looking for the boy who was waiting for me, but I saw no one. Literally no one. It looked empty. I decided to go in anyway.

"Excuse me, good evening"

No one answered my knock. Not only were there no customers, but I didn't see any employees either. Unconsciously, I sat down at the same table where we had been with Leo, that dreary evening. There were noises in the background and all the lights were on, as well as some machines running, but I was the only one in the large room. Puzzled, I decided to look at the time on my cell phone.

"9 o'clock, huh?"

I was surprised with my punctuality, as Leo always used to arrive before me. By the way, I hadn't received any messages from him either. With that in mind, I thought about writing to him. ‘Hello, Leo. I'm already at Café Alba. Where are you?’ was what I sent him. However, for the next ten minutes there was no reply. Not from Leo, not from anyone. It all seemed very strange to me.

"Hellooooo," I tried to call someone.

My call didn't seem to affect the room in the least. Everything was still the same, completely quiet. Because of this situation, I was already starting to get nervous. Why did it seem like there was no one else in the world?

"Maybe... he's not coming," I kept saying to myself, my eyes a little wet.

It was at that moment that I heard a noise to my right, from where the counter was and, where on the opposite wall, was the door that seemed to communicate the salon with the rest of the building.

"I'm sorry, but we are about to close..."

I was absolutely confused at that sentence. Not because I wasn't going to see Leo due to the café closing, but because of who was speaking to me. I recognized that voice as if I heard it every day. I looked up quickly and saw the person who was talking to me. It was a blonde girl, good looking, who was cleaning one of the tables in the column in front of me, a few meters away from mine.

... Our hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., so you can come back tomorrow-"

The girl, who was talking to me while regaining her posture as she finished cleaning, also froze when she saw me sitting over there. Our gazes froze for a few seconds, facing each other, completely taken aback.


"Huh! Clara?"

There was no doubt. It was her. The girl attending the café, standing in front of me dressed in a blue plaid shirt and a brown apron, was without a doubt Sofia, that cute, energic and active girl who was always curious about me. That classmate who spoke me since the very first moment and helped me introduce myself to the class. In other words... my best friend.