"Happy Birthday, Patty!"

"Make a wish!" demanded Charlene Madlee, holding out a birthday cake with white icing and sky-blue trim. The crowd around her, my fellow reporters of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, all cheered their agreement to her demand.

I looked around the room, at the decorations all put up for me. It was more than I could ever wish for. I looked at the smiling faces surrounding me. My colleagues, my friends. I was as happy as I could be.

Almost. Today I turned eighteen, and I couldn't help but remember the story I told six years ago. The lie I had told about my gold ring, the one that even now wrapped around my right ring finger. The ring I was currently twisting with my other hand, more out of habit than nervousness.

Of course, thinking of the ring, which I did much too often, always made me think of its former owner. Anton. Frederick Anton Reiker, to be precise. I had been thinking about him a lot, lately, what with the approach of my adulthood and all. How today would have been the day I would have left on the Greyhound for New York City, then the boat to Germany, and then the train to Göttingen, had it not been for the fact that Anton had been killed. Murdered.

I was taking too long, I could tell. People were beginning to shift, smiles were starting to fade. I laughed, brushing away the sadness beginning to engulf me, as it always did when I thought of his death. "Sorry," I laughed again. They laughed with me.

I still didn't know what I would wish for. The only two things in this world that I wanted were both impossible: my parents' love, and the return of Anton. I decided to just blow out the candles. As Ruth had once said, "wishing don't make nothing so, but prayer sometimes do." I didn't need a wish.

But as I blew out the candles, the faint whisper of "Anton" echoed through my mind. "Anton, Anton."


A/N: Okay, first published fanfic ever, so go easy on me. Also Summer of My German Soldier belongs to Bette Greene, not me.