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Birthday Wishes / Katy Goforth

It is my birthday which means the telephone won’t ring—the telephone that my mom knows how to use to call her church friends she serves tuna casserole with on Wednesday praise nights where she spreads inflated lies about my life by telling the saved souls that law school is in my future, along with a move home to gift her with grandbabies she won’t touch because they’re work, and she likes show, but her voice won’t tell me happy birthday until it has passed, and the sentiment will be followed by a command for me to get “unmad” about whatever it is I am mad about, which will be followed by a breathless question about my weight gain, and why I have undone all of my hard work—the hard work of depriving myself of the calories I need for that imaginary law school journey she has put me on, and she will tell me she’s bought me a present I will love, but it is in a size medium, so I have work to do to enjoy it, and I think to myself as she vomits her words all over me: the first thing I did wrong was interrupt her life.


KATY GOFORTH is a writer and editor for a national engineering and surveying organization and a fiction editor for Identity Theory. Her writing has appeared in Brevity, Reckon Review, Cowboy Jamboree, Salvation South, and elsewhere. She has a prose collection forthcoming with Belle Point Press (2025). She was born and raised in South Carolina and lives with her spouse and two pups, Finn and Betty Anne. You can find her work at


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