June 9

Kage Baker would, in the ordinary course of her life, by now be sneaking surreptitious glances at her birthday presents. Which would be in a pile on the mantlepiece or the living room table. If she were still in the ordinary course of her life.

It was our custom to put out our birthday presents the evening before the birthday in question. The recipient was allowed to look closely, to handle slightly, to even shake them a little. Kage loved the suspense – she loved guessing, and moaning in frustration that she’d have to wait, wondering what weirdness in packaging I might have contrived in order to disguise what she was getting.  (I did that a lot.) I also lied, prevaricated, and flat out refused to confirm even her best guesses.

That was the whole point, you see. And believe me, Kage remembered what she’d guessed the night before, and crowed with triumph at every guess that was subsequently revealed to be correct. She did love to win …

The stack would sit there and shimmer all evening, and then be happily despoiled in the morning. It was a tradition, originally engendered by Kage – because she so enjoyed the anticipation, the sure knowledge that something great was coming but not … quite … yet. It was the other side of patiently working to achieve her goals: the fun of knowing a good thing was guaranteed, but holding back from until she just couldn’t stand it any more!

Tomorrow would have been her birthday. And this is just the time of the evening when I would ordinarily disappear into my room, wrap her gits with the dubious assistance of Harry – parrots do not enhance a present-wrapping experience – and then tote out the goodies to torment and tempt her.

I wish I could tonight. I hope someone does it.