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  • Tyla McDuff

The 21st Birthday Speech I Never Made



You are a headache: too much ego for your skinny build and too much volume for the many households we have occupied.


You are honesty: a dress that widens hips or shadows under eyelids, constant reminders of imperfection.


You are tact: a mad dash for the last doughnut or a sob story for our mother’s attention.


You are kindness: late-night pick-ups for the unlicensed and a glimpse into my teenage turmoil for repayment.


You are patience: waiting for a big sad family in a big sad home to eventually make it as a small happy family in a small happy home.


You are sense: hopeless arguments around a dinner table and a fight for better grades.


You are thankful: for the mother we shared, holding the weight of two children on each shoulder and pretending it didn’t hurt.



You are my worst enemy, my biggest competitor, my shoulder to cry on, my punching bag. While you are growing, growing, growing there is a brother and a sister out there, hiding under the covers with a torch and a book, miles away from twenty-one candles on a birthday cake.

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