"Good morning teenager! Mrs. Cormanci's made you some chocolate chip pancakes. Better go down there before the get cold. Everyone's waiting to wish you a happy birthday!" Gregor's mom said softly. She was perched on the end of his bed rubbing his feet. "Birthday?" he mumbled groggily. "Yes sweetie. Remember? Today's your birthday. You're thirteen now." Gregor nodded. He did remember. He had just been in the underland so long that he had lost track of time.

"I'll be there in just a second." he said calmly. "Okay. Oh! I almost forgot! Boots is simply dying to give you your present, so you might want to hurry before she explodes." his mom grinned. As soon as she had shut the door Gregor collapsed onto his back. He was only thirteen, but he felt much older and wiser than ever before.

When he arrived in the kitchen his whole family and Mrs. Cormanci were waiting for him. "Happy birthday!" they all cried at once. "Happy birthday Gre- go!" Boots said a little late. Even though she could now say Gregor, she still liked to call him Gre-go.

"Gregor you are going to have the best birthday ever!" said Mrs. Cormanci excitedly. "First we'll have breakfast here. Then it's off to the city! We'll go shopping, and look in tons of stores. We'll get you a famous New York pizza for lunch, then we go to Central Park. After that we'll come home and rest for a little while, then it'll be time for your birthday dinner. Then we will have cake and ice cream and open presents and we're just going to have a spectacular day!" she ended in a rush.

"Thanks a million guys!" Gregor said plastering a fake smile across his face. The truth was that he really wanted to stay at home and relax. He didn't want anyone fussing over him, or planning his day. He didn't even want to celebrate at all. But everyone had gone to all this trouble just for him, so he said, "Let's get going! We've got a busy day ahead of us!"

When it came time for the cake Gregor was worn out. He could hardly even act like he was all excited, much less truly be excited. "Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Gregor! Happy birthday to you!" everyone sang. Gregor stared into the chocolate frosting as he thought about what he was going to wish for. Finally he blew out all the candels in one breath. "What'd you wish for?" Lizzie asked. "I can't tell you. If I did my wish wouldn't come true." Gregor replied. And though he didn't tell any one, he really wanted this wish to come true.

Later that evening, when all the birthday excitment was over, Gregor wanted some alone time. His mom told him that he might as well do the laundy while he was at it. That's how he ended up in the laundry room mumbling to himself his wish over and over. He had just dumped a load of darks in the washer when he heard a voice. "So this is what a laundry room looks like." the voice said. Gregor's heart flipped. He would recognize that voice anywhere. "Luxa?"