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Happy Birthday, My Earth

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Mix is at the front of the hospital, waiting for a taxi to pass by. He keeps looking at his silver Rolex, and he seems irritated. It’s already 5:31 in the early morning. He just finished his night shift and he has to hurry home to Bangna. He still has to prepare for Earth’s birthday.

An army green Lexus ES 2021 suddenly stops in front of Mix. The tinted glass window rolls down to reveal Luke sitting in the driver’s seat.

“Need a lift?” Luke asks in English, his American accent evident in his soft voice.

“I sure do.” Mix replies in Thai, and immediately opens the passenger seat and slides in. Desperate times come in desperate measures. Being shy would be the last thing Mix would feel in these kinds of situations. And besides, Luke is an old friend. They were in Safe House together. They’re friendship has passed the shyness phase.

“How come you’re on the night shift? It’s Earth’s birthday. I thought you needed to prepare for the party.” Luke slowly puts pressure on the acceleration as they snake their way to Bangkok’s early morning traffic.

“I know. But my colleague begged me to fill her shift last night because her mother was rushed to the hospital. I can’t say no to her.” Mix explains. “Where are you off to at this hour?”

“I just got back from shooting and was going home to clean up before going to your house when I saw you on the sidewalk.” MIx nods in understanding. They continue to chat, catching up on each other’s lives, how they have been through the years that have passed. They also recalled memories from when they were housemates at the Safe House.

“And remember the Safe House dance? Man that was so hilarious. I can't believe Earth can twerk like that!" Luke laughs loudly, but stops himself after seeing Mix being quiet. 

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to dig some memories."

"No, it's fine. You're right, he was really hilarious." Mix smiles softly, trying so hard to stop his tears from falling.

They spent the rest of the trip in silence, 'cause despite the happy moments that they both shared, it also lets the pain Mix has been bearing for the past eight years linger longer. 

After twenty minutes, they arrived at Bangna. Luke parks the car in front of Mix's gate. Mix gets out of the car first and immediately makes his way towards the side door of the black gate and goes inside, leaving the door ajar for Luke to get in. 

Mix takes off his white crocs at the foot of the cream-colored house's entrance before slipping inside. Mix is greeted by Aunt Mae, the house help he hired.

Sawasdee, Pa . You’re early to get up. Is he awake?” Mix puts down his thing on the kitchen counter.

“Not yet. And of course I’ll wake up early. I’m too excited for today that’s why. Aww, sawasdee, Luke. Party’s not until nine o’clock.” Pa Mae jokes.

Sawasdee, Pa. ” Luke wai’s to show respect. “Oi, Pa. I know. I just want to help with the preparations.” 

“Well, you’re not the only one. Your friends are already decorating the other house for the party.”

“Huh?” Mix and Luke exchange looks.

“The Safe House gang. Cookie, Kenji, Arm, Ter and Namtan are also here. They even brought the cats with them ‘cause Khaotung brought his cat to play with them. You should check up on their progress.”

Mix starts to protest but Pa Mae already shoves the two of them out of the house, assuring Mix that he will take care of everything. Mix leaves no choice but to follow the elder woman’s instruction. With Luke tailing him, the two men went out of the house and walked three lots down to Mix’s other house. Earth’s house. 

Nothing changed much. After what happened, Earth’s family gave him the house, telling him that he was really the owner because most memories of him happened in that house. Also, his Aunt and his sister can’t leave their family business in Suphanburi and since Mix is the only one who’s capable of taking care of the estate, they are happily willing to give it to him. After all, Mix is also family. But of course, whenever the Watthanasetsiri clan is in the area, Mix happily offers the home for them to spend the night in.

As soon as Mix and Luke enter the place, they are greeted by people scrambling around decorating the place. Kenji and Ter are trying to prop the birthday banner on the white wall of the garage while Cookie’s instructing them, making sure that the banner is at the center. Namtan and Arm are decorating the round white tables and the Monobloc chairs that are scattered in the empty garage. Arm’s placing galaxy-printed cloth over the tables while Namtan is putting napkin holders filled with galaxy napkins. She also places little astronaut figurines next to the napkins. Mix can see Phuwin and Pond are blowing up balloons in the living room while Tay’s sitting on one of the chairs of the dining area, talking with Khaotung and Gun who’s in the kitchen at the same time filling in white bags with candies for the birthday souvenirs. Mix and Luke greeted those who were in the garage, before getting inside the house to greet the others. Luke immediately sits beside Tay and starts helping Luke. 

“Where’s the cats?” Mix asks Khaotung, who is busy taste testing the Tom Kha Gai he’s cooking, points up, indicating that the cats are upstairs.

“Who’s looking after them?”

“P’Aof.” Gun answers him.

“What about Neo?”

“He took Earth’s car to get Podd ‘cause he knows his car broke down last week and is still at the repair shop and needs a ride because of the cakes.” Gun replies.

“That kid. I told him to message me first before borrowing the car!” Mix complains.

“Mix, Mai pen lai. He’s gonna take good care of it.” Khaotung says, still busy with cooking.

“But that’s Earth’s car! What if he gets into a car accident and the car gets sacked?”

“You’re more worried about the car getting a dent than your adopted son getting into an accident?” Tay interrupts, “Kid, you need to sort out your priorities.” Him and Luke started laughing.

“Of course I’ll be worried about Neo, too! But Earth loved that car. Plus, Neo drives like his father, that's why I’m worried.” But that makes his friends laugh harder.

“Brother Neo’s here.” Phuwin blurts out. Mix hurriedly goes outside, letting out a sigh of relief as he sees the black BMW Gran Coupe being parked at the front, spotless, clean and dentless. Behind the wheel is Neo, grinning maniacally while Podd’s sitting at the passenger seat, holding his seatbelt tightly like his life depends on it. They both get out of the luxury car. Podd opens the backseat and takes out boxes, Neo getting the other boxes at the other end. After closing the car’s doors, they both approach him.

“You look like you’ve just got off a rollercoaster.” Mix teases Podd.

“Try sitting in the passenger seat while Neo’s driving and you’ll really gonna have a rollercoaster experience.” Podd mutters before rushing inside and Khaotung greets him with a hug. Mix turns to face Neo and smacks him, hard.

“Ow! What was that for, Phi?” Neo rubs his aching back with his free hand.

“Don’t ask me that question. You know pretty well why.”

“Hehe. Do I?” Mix attempts to smack him again but the younger one dodges his hand and sprints towards safety inside the house, laughing. Mix can’t help but laugh too.

He went back inside to continue helping with the preparations.


People start to arrive and fill in the empty tables. Kids occupy most of the chairs and some are starting to run around. P’Arm, who is the host for the party, speaks through the microphone and tries to get the kids' attention. Cookie and Tay are handing out party hats for the kids to wear.

Mix already bathed and exchanged his hospital scrubs with cleaner clothes. He’s wearing a brown vest over a white collared polo shirt and black square pants. He exits the walk-in-closet and goes to the master bedroom where P’Aof is playing with the cats.

“How do I look?”

P’Aof turns around and gives him a one-over. 

“Seriously? That vest?”

“Why, what's the problem? I look good in it.” MIx pouts.

“Don’t get me wrong. You look good in it. But you know why I point it out. Are you sure you’re okay wearing it?” P’Aof asks, concern evident in his voice. 

“I’m gonna be fine, Phi. I’ve been wearing all his clothes for eight years. This one’s no exception.”

“But it’s his favorite. And today’s his birthday.”

“I’m gonna be fine, P’Aof.” His director friend looks at him intently, trying to detect the lie in his voice, but he sighs in defeat. 

“Okay, suit yourself. I just don’t want you to ruin the moment if you suddenly cry. Don’t ruin Earth’s birthday.”

“I wouldn’t dare.” P’Aof pats him on the back. The two of them go downstairs to greet Mix’s guests. P’Pea and P’Boy has arrived too, and is now helping Gun, Khaotung and Podd prepare the food on the dining table.

“Neo.” Mix calls his friend.

“What do you want, Dad?” Neo jokes, which makes Mix smile.

“Fetch your brother.” tells him.

“Phuwin’s already here. He’s grinding with his boyfriend.” Phuwin throws one of the throw pillows of the couch at him, which Neo easily caught with his hand.

“We’re just talking, you douchebag!”

“We’ll, he’s not also lying, though ‘cause we’re gonna do it la-” Pond couldn’t finish his sentence ‘cause Phuwin smacks him with another pillow.

“Would you shut up?”

Mix rolls his eyes but is clearly enjoying this scene unfolding before him. He goes back to the topic at hand.

“I wasn’t talking about Phuwin, silly.”

“Oh, okay. Nong Phuwin, come with me.” Neo pulls his friend’s arm to make him stand, who clearly doesn’t want to leave Pond behind. In the end, the three of them went to Mix’s house. Mix went back to accommodating his guests. After a couple of minutes, he sees Pa Mae arrive. Holding her left hand, is a seven-year-old boy, with golden brown complexion, a snub yet tall nose, wavy ebony hair, and thin almond eyes. He’s wearing matching clothes with Mix, with only the vest being different because it’s blue in color. The kid’s also wearing a dark blue messenger’s hat. As soon as the kid sees Mix, he lets go of his nanny’s hand and runs to his side and hugs him.

“Papa!” Mix smiles and hugs his son back.

“You miss Papa, Earth?”  Earth nods his head.

“I didn’t see you when I woke up.” the kid pouts. And he pouts perfectly, just like MIx. Mix chuckles.

“I already told you that I will be working at night curing animals right?” He fixes his son’s hat. “But I also told you that I’ll be here for your birthday, and here I am. As promised. So don’t be angry at me na? ” Little Earth pretends to think about it before nodding. Mix squishes the kid’s cheeks softly.

“Are you ready for your birthday party?” Mix asks Earth.

“Yes!” the kid shouts happily.

“Let’s go.” Mix stands up and offers his hand to his son, who happily holds it.

Mix happily watches his son as Little Earth enjoys playing the parlor games his Uncle Arm prepared for him and his classmates. He can’t believe he just turned seven. It seems like yesterday when Mix first held him in his arms.

“He’s really a spitting image of Earth.” P’Pea stands beside him, joining Mix in observing the fun.

“Yeah, handsomeness runs in their family.” Mix replies. Little Earth is a Watthanasetsiri, like Earth. He’s the child of Earth’s cousin. Unfortunately, the kid’s parents died in a car crash when he was just eight months old, and a year after Earth died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. When Earth’s aunt asked him if he could take him in because their family couldn’t afford to raise him without remembering the parents’ death, Mix didn’t even hesitate. He’s happy to adopt the child. Funny thing is, not only does the child look almost exactly like Earth, he was also born the same day as his late uncle. This made Mix’s decision to adopt him easier.

The resemblance doesn’t stop there either. Little Earth loves astronomy and nature. He also loves eating fruits, going on adventures, and he hates spiders. Heck, the kid even dislikes fermented fish.

It’s like Earth got reincarnated, cause he knows MIx would be alone.

Mix excuses himself and goes upstairs to the master bedroom. Earth’s room. Everything is still the same in that room. The saturn lightbulb is dangling above the vanity table. The curtains are still the same dark drapes and the beddings, too. The beddings smells of Downy, which means it just got back from laundry. Mix always makes sure that this room is always clean. 

Sleeping at the center are MIx’s cats Somporn, Sommai, Big Ben, Brighton, and Edin, all of them cuddling close.

Mix sits carefully on the bed, next to his sleeping cats. He takes out something from the drawer of the vanity table.

It’s Earth’s picture frame. 

He touches the glass that protects the picture, tracing Earth’s sharp jawline.

“Happy Birthday, my Earth. I hope you’re here celebrating it with us.” Tears started to roll down his cheeks. He places the picture close to his chest and embraces it, letting his sorrow engulf him.

“I can’t believe you’ve been gone for eight years now.” he whispers to the air.

He just sits there, crying his heart out, cradling the picture of his lover. He cries for quite a while, letting the memories of Earth flood his thoughts. He doesn’t even realize when the door slightly opens.

“Papa?”

He looks at where the voice comes from, and sees his son at the door, holding a plate with a blue cupcake in it, a little candle perched atop, little flame dancing in its wick.

“Can I come in?” Mix wipes his tears. He nods. The little boy sits beside him, cupcake still in his hand.

“What’s that for, baby?” Mix points at the cupcake with the lit candle.

“It’s for Daddy Earth. It’s his birthday, too.” Little Earth says innocently.

Mix can’t help but cry again. How does he deserve to have the sweetest son? Little Earth puts down the cupcake on the table and hugs his father, which makes Mix bawl harder.

“Why are you crying, Papa? Daddy will be sad in heaven if he sees you crying on our birthday.” Little Earth caresses Mix’s back. In return, Mix also hugs his son.

“I’m sorry, baby. I just miss your Daddy Earth.”

“Then we’ll visit him at the temple later after the party. I also need to give him his birthday cake. I’ll offer it at his tomb.” his son cheerfully says, breaking from the hug.

“I know, baby. What I mean is I miss him, here by my side. I miss seeing his face. I miss hugging him like I hugged you. I miss him taking care of me like he always did.” He caresses the little boy’s face.

“Then I’ll hug you for him, Papa. I’ll make you breakfast. I’ll take care of you for Daddy. So please smile now, Papa. If you’re gonna continue to be sad, he’ll haunt you in your dreams.” Mix chuckles at the last part.

“I wish he would, baby Earth. At least that way, I can see him again.” He kisses his son’s forehead. He gets the cupcake and holds it in front of Little Earth.

“Blow the candles together for Daddy’s sake?” LIttle Earth smiles, and together, they blow the candle and say,

Happy Birthday, Earth.”