AN: This fic is for a very special amiga of mine; lovelylittleflowerchild! Happy birthday dearest!


"Feliz Cumpleanos a ti! Feliz Cumpleanos a ti! Feliz cumpleanos Maria! Feliz cumpleanos a ti!"

Maria looked around at all the people gathered tightly in her parent's small apartment. Each and every one of them had a smile almost as big as her own painted on their faces.

"Aye come on Maria! You are only eighteen years old for three-hundred and sixty five more days." Anita laughed. "Make a wish and blow out your candles."

Eighteen. Maria marveled at the thought. She was so lucky to have made it this far.

Eighteen, she knew, was the age her brother was when he died.

It was the age her best friend was when she was harried by a rag-tag bunch of lost boys.

It was the age her love was when he died in her arms.

Eighteen. It is the age Maria turns today. But, she feels no older than she did back on that hazy day in June of 1957 and she can't imagine that Bernardo and Tony could've felt so either.

Eighteen, Maria knows now, is much too young to die.

"Maria make a wish!" somebody yells. And, Maria is quickly snapped out of her thoughts and back to the setting before her.

She glances up again. The grins on everyone's faces has not faltered, and once again she cannot believe how blessed she is to be here; how blessed they all are to be here.

So without another moments hesitation, Maria shuts her eyes and wishes with all her might for a world where young men and women can live in a child's world for just a little bit longer.