This is Tara, and she wants to tell you about her 16th birthday. Normally, a 16th birthday is something very special that you’re supposed to remember forever. Well, that was also true in her case!
She should probably say something about her background. Tara has a very interesting family. To all appearances, they’re just a regular middle class family – her parents, her sister who is one year older than her, and Tara herself. But the fact is, they live in a circus. Or at an amusement park. Or both. Everyone in her family is a prankster, and even if from time to time it can get very tiring, Tara adores them. She’s a prankster as well, just a less experienced one, so sometimes their jokes are very unexpected, and she gets scared. But she never feels offended – humour is what makes our lives funnier, after all.
But, turning back to her 16th birthday, at the time it certainly didn’t seem like a time for jokes, and she was horribly scared. But, well, no spoilers. She was planning a huge party, with all of her relatives and friends invited. Initially, Tara wanted to organize everything on her own, but her parents insisted on taking care of everything, and she was supposed to just to relax, make herself pretty and turn up at the venue they had chosen. Sounds like a plan! She made an appointment to do her hair and nails on her birthday, so that straight from there she could go directly to the party, all beautiful and well dressed.
The day started out with a very nice surprise. Tara was supposed to get her presents at the party, so didn’t expect anything in the morning. But as soon as she opened her eyes – surprise-surprise! – she saw car keys on her pillow! Whaaaa? Was it a prank? After all the happy birthday stuff, her parents informed her that they were giving her their old car! Technically it wasn’t a gift, but they thought she would be pleased in any case. Hell yes, she was! She had just got her driving license and it was the first day she was able to drive a car on her own. Yaaay! She decided to make use of it at once and asked her sister to accompany her to the hairdresser’s, because she didn’t feel confident enough to drive on her own.
She and her sister stopped off to get a coffee and then headed on to the surprise location of the party, with her sister guiding her to where it was. Then suddenly, she started begging Tara to stop at a nearby mall, as she needed to use the bathroom badly.
As she watched her sister walking back, she saw something strange. There was some man following her. “Meh, just a coincidence,” she thought. But he followed her all the way through the parking lot. She began to feel nervous, and started the engine so that she could pick her up and leave at once. But as she was inexperienced, she didn’t manage to do it quickly enough. Now her sister also noticed that something was happening; she looked back, noticed the man and sped up. But it was too late. As she opened the back door of the car ready to jump in, he pushed her inside forcefully and jumped into the car as well.
Tara froze. She was shocked. What the heck was going on?! The man, who looked like a junkie or a criminal on the loose, kicked her seat and said “What are you waiting for? Go!” She was completely numb and just obeyed. But then anger rose inside her, and she said “What do you want?! I am going to stop right now, and you will get out of this car!”
She heard her sister whining in the background – poor thing, she could clearly feel that his knife very close. “Look, it’s my birthday today! You don’t want to ruin it!” “Oh please, I couldn’t care less about your birthday! Just drive where I tell you to and everything will be ok”. Tara obeyed. She was horribly scared – you know, they were the witnesses, her sister and her, and if they spotted his hideaway she was sure he would murder them. The man just stayed silent, apart from giving her directions, and kept on glaring at her ominously.
When suddenly the man said, “You can drop me off at the end of the street, and I’ll go on foot. If you tell the police, I’ll find you”. She just nodded, not believing her luck, and stopped the car in front of a restaurant on the corner of the street.
He opened the door, but wouldn’t leave. She looked back in terror, and saw that people were running out of the restaurant. It was…her parents and all of her friends! They were yelling: “Birthday prank! Surprise!” And her sister and the man were laughing in the back seat. It turned out that it had all just been her parents’ latest prank to get her to her birthday party, and the man was an actor. Of course, she cried hysterically when all the pressure ebbed away from her, but then…Well, you may find it cruel, but in the end they all had a good laugh about it. At least her parents had made sure Tara would remember her 16th birthday party forever.
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