Crown by Mark Simpson
The daughter took a photo of her father on his last birthday. He posed in front of a white-frosted cake, a half-blind, half-deaf old man looking like he didn't know what had hit him. After lighting the candles, she placed a paper crown on his head and then took the photograph. The photo was awful, a bad polaroid, the light and colors not right. He stared at the candles as if it were the blaze of hell, as if he knew this was his last birthday, his last birthday cake, and the only crown he'd ever wear.
Mark Simpson He lives on Whidbey Island, Washington. He has a calendar, and as each day passes, he places a careful X in the small white square of yesterday. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sleet (Pushcart Prize nominee), Columbia Journal (Online), Third Wednesday, and Cold Mountain Review.