In the beginning the first few drafts of Happy birthday to me were a much longer as i tried to get an idea of who my main characters were. I had a good few paragraphs exploring the parents relationship which was on patchy ground but eventually all that was cut. This story was also being written as part of my dissertation for my MA, at that stage I had all the stories happening in one house over a period of years and the travelling trunk which pops up as a main character in, Filth and Dead Famous was to be a thread within all these stories. After my MA I dismantled all the tales back to my original concept of the tales being in different houses in the infamous Blanche Street.
I became fascinated by the amount of deaths that happen because people dig holes in the sand and then get buried alive and because of the nature of sand there is no evidence of where the hole was which was truely frightening. It was around this time I was told about two brothers and one had buried his brother up to his neck which ended in tragedy, it was this story that I wanted to explore further and give it my own twist.
In my story I made the brothers twins as I wanted to play on all the families grief and the surviving child’s desperation to make things right. As I continued to craft the story I asked the favourite writers question, “What if”. From here I asked, What if the twin that had died was the parents favourite, from here the story began to get very twisted as the mother, unable to cope with her favourite twin’s death leave the family home to convalesce at her parent home. This alone is quiet horrifying, the thought of a mother turning her back on her son, but made all the worse by the father who also favoured his dead son continues to make mistakes.
“Come on kiddo let’s get you home; we can order a take-away, sweet and sour pork’s your favourite, right?”
Chris has not spoken more than two words since the accident, but now he wants to scream. Take-aways have always been a treat, but now they are the norm. What is worse is that sweet and sour pork has always been Craig’s’ favourite dish, not his!
As well as this horror I wanted to create a nightmare for Chris as he starts to see things that may be coming from his fragile imagination or really are supernatural occurrences drummed up from his brothers untimely death.
With sleep pulling him ever deeper, he once again hears water rushing in under the bedroom door. The salty smell of the sea fills his nostrils as he prays for the water to stop. In no time the water beings to seep into the mattress. Unable to move, unable to scream, Chris holds his breath as the water surges over him.
The story ends with Chris praying to make things right. The ending is purposely ambiguous: has Chris given up his body for the ghost of his brother to take over, was the whole thing a nightmare from a single child? Did the doctor give him something to alter his state of mind? or has Chris simply given up his personality in place of his grief. Of course with all stories of this kind, it is up to the reader to decide.