It was a day like any other. Edward had gone to work. He had gone home and then had gone to the gym. His daily weight exercises set a new personal best for himself. And for this he was pleased at the progress he had made.
He couldn’t get any sleep that night. It was a regular occurrence for him as he racked his brain for material, something to write about, something to write about, something to write about… Avoiding the pitfalls of writer’s block he decided to go up to the street and get himself a drink. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. It was about two forty in the morning and he often found himself taking walks at this time of early morning.
When he reached the convenience store he bought himself a pack of cigarettes and a lemon soda. Then wandered outside. There he decided to stop and have a cigarette.There was a stranger on the side of the park bench. He seemed depressed. Edward asked him if he was okay and if he needed any help.
“No, I’m fine. I’m fine.” The stranger replied. He seemed melancholic and inebriated in his tone.
“Are you sure? I can call you a cab if you’d like.”
“I’m fine. I’m fine.” He didn’t seem fine by the way he slurred some of his words. “I’m alright. How are you?”
“Good mate, good.” Edward replied, “Just came down to the convenience store for a pack of cigarettes and a drink. How about you? How was your day?”
“It was good. And yours?”
“Yeah, not bad. Got some things done. Went to the gym. Nothing special. What did you do?”
“I went out with some friends for my birthday.”
Edward did a mental check in his head, “No shit! So you’re one of them?”
“That’s right. A freak! An outcast! I’m eleven years old.”
Which would by Edward’s calculation make him forty-four, it being the twenty-ninth of Febuary, “Good God man, what’s it like? Do you get asked for ID at the bar? What happens?”
“Well, we only get to celebrate every four years like this.” Edward could then sense and understand the reason for melancholic undertones in his speech. “Did you know in the United States, there are about three hundred and twenty-eight million people. And there are only about one hundred and eighty-seven thousand of us there. Here in Australia I think there are approximately fourteen thousand of us.”
“No, I did not know that.” Edward was intrigued. What life had this man lead. This freak of the Gregorian calender.
“They don’t ask me for ID at the bar. They don’t even believe me when I tell them my birthday. But that’s me. I’m eleven years old.”
Edward got into a deeper conversation with this man. They discussed life, politics and all things in-between. Women. There was some point Edward made about women. That when a man makes something of himself where he is so desired by women, he himself has lost some of the desire for the women he lusted after he has made himself successful enough to be so desired by the opposite sex. “What’s your name? Can I buy you a drink? I know it’s only at the convenience store. But still I should buy you a drink for your birthday.”
The man was non-chalant about it. At first denying the drink, but then accepting a one dollar coffee after Edward insisted several times that it should sober him up, “My name is… My name is Damn It!”
“What? You can’t remember your name?”
“No, that’s what my mother called me. My mother called me Damn It, because I would be forever cursing my existence being born on this day.”
“That’s an odd name.”
“Yes, well, that’s not really my name. But it may as well be.”
“Oh come on bloke. It’s not that bad is it? I mean you may only get a birthday once every four years, but I bet it’s four times more intense.”
“Yes, once every four years, it gets like this.”
Edward thought about it, it was a Monday night, “Christ, do you have work tomorrow? You should get home and get some rest.”
“Work? Work…” Damn It thought about the concept, “Yes, I suppose I do have work. But I’ll tell you something about work on this day. If someone is on a per annum salary they are only getting paid for three hundred and sixty five days of the year. Every four years they, the bosses, get an extra day out of us. The bastards squeeze an extra day out of us for no extra pay.” Damn It was quite enthralled on this point and went on about it for some time. “We should just get the day off!”
During the intervals Edward would chime in, “Preach it brother,” or, “Right on!”
He continued on and then finished up, “But I don’t take life too seriously anymore. A failed marriage of fourteen years. A life flushed down the corporate sewer. No, I think it’s best not to take life too seriously at all.”
“And that’s the only way to be.” Edward intoned. Edward bid Damn It farewell and returned home. Forever thinking of Damn It and the others like him, born on this accursed day.