The Birthday Card

By Elias Keller

For the first time ever she recieved a birthday card from her grandparents. Along with the canned material, the handwritten message in shaky script said: “Jeanine: We love you, sweetheart. Mom-Mom and Grandfather.”

But the card was not really from her grandparents. Jeanine’s grandfather had been dead for a decade, and since then her grandmother had never given her a single gift or card. “A waste of money,” she’d croaked. “And a birthday isn’t anything special. Everyone has one.” The only thing her grandmother gave her was advice to marry rich.

In fact the card — this card she had spotted resting on top of a trash can in the street — was not really addressed to her. The granddaughter was named “Jamie,” or perhaps “Jane,” but the shaky script made it look as though it could say “Jeanine.” So she could imagine it was for her, not for the other granddaughter who was a sweetheart, who was loved, and whose birthday was not like everyone else’s.

Elias Keller has published short fiction in the 3288 Review, Jellyfish Review, Oblong, Literary Orphans, Crack the Spine, Wordhaus, Every Day Fiction, APIARY, and elsewhere. He is a Philadelphia native and currently lives in New Orleans. For more information, visit

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