Warren closed his eyes, took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes, he smoothed the white-lined paper, wrote the date at the top. He licked his lips, unsure of how to start. This had to be special. Had to be perfect. Eighteen was a big year, after all. He couldn't let her birthday be full of only laughs. There had to be some meaningful tears, too. Tears that came from a beautifully written card—or letter, in his case. But how to start?
i Hippie, /i he began.
Warren sighed and flipped the pencil over before erasing the nickname.
i Flower child, /i he tried.
No. That wasn't it. It had to be more…more…personal.
i Layla, /i he wrote in his finest cursive.
i Darling girl, you're eighteen. It seems unreal, unreasonable. Each year, you have grown more beautiful, more intriguing. Each year, you find something new to save and you never cease to amaze me with your determination. I can only hope you find the same happiness this year, and find some lost cause to fight for.
Have a wonderful birthday. I hope you get everything your heart desires.
He had considered writing 'love', but didn't want her to get the wrong idea. She was sort of a dreamy girl after all, and could take it for more than he meant. Well, more than he wanted to show he meant, anyway.
He walked to her house. It was late, and he knew she would be asleep. He didn't want to be there when she read it, though.
Warren was careful walking up the driveway, hoping he could avoid the sensor that would turn the garage light on. Sliding along the grass on bordering the driveway, he managed to stay out of the sensor's vision. He carefully scaled the tree by Layla's window. Once he had reached the top, he realized it was probably better to get the tape out before he had climbed the tree. He struggled to get the scotch tape out of his pocket, and growled when the tape holder cracked. Still, he was able to break off a piece of the tape and stuck it to the window, along with his note-slash-card.
He was sprawled across his bead, the blanket covering all of him but his head, a fist, and his right leg. Layla shook her head and sat down next to him. He didn't stir. She smoothed his hair back, admiring its softness. Toying with the streak of red, she bit her lip. It was time he woke up.
"Warren," she said softly, brushing her fingers against his back, feeling the ribbed pattern of his wifebeater. "Warren, wake up."
He adjusted himself slightly, but remained asleep. Layla laughed softly.
Still, he wouldn't wake up. Finally, Layla leaned down and brushed her lips against his cheek.
"Hmmm." Warren stretched. His eyes still closed, he reached up and tilted Layla's head so he could kiss her mouth. Layla struggled away from him.
He looked over at his clock, which displayed the date. "It's your birthday," he remembered. "Happy birthday."
Layla held up the note he had left her, bit her lip. "Thanks. I mean it. It meant a lot to me…It was…sweet."
"You're welcome. But…"
"What do you want for your birthday?"
"Nothing else," he agreed.
Layla lowered her eyes and grinned before answering. "You."
"The lost causes are the ones worth fighting for, aren't they?"
"I'm more than lost, Layla, and you know it. I'm…I'm…I'm…"
"Talking too much," she finished, pressing her mouth to his.
When she pulled away, he was stunned. Immediately, he yanked her back to him, encouraging her to do it again.
"That present you wanted?" he asked.
"You got it."