top of page
Vicki Childs author


Kiss the Sun - Chapter 1 


Birthday Wishes
Saturday, April 18th - Pasadena

Emily stared out the kitchen window, her fingernails digging into the smooth ceramic surface of the butler sink as she forced the mask of blissful contentment back into place. 

Outside, the birthday party was in full swing. Sunlight glinted across the brightly colored helium balloons as they bounced in the breeze, metallic orbs of childhood joy, tugging at their anchors in a desperate attempt to break free. Behind them, an azure blue California sky, stretching to infinity, filled with the gleeful squeals of children playing on the water slide just out of sight. 

 She touched her hair to check it was still in place. 

“It’s getting hot already,” she said, watching the balloons.

“Yeah,” said Ed. “I’ll take some more water out. And some juice boxes when I go.”

He stood behind her at the kitchen island, cutting up fresh strawberries and dropping them into paper bowls, before placing the bowls on a glass platter. 

Emily shifted her weight and swallowed.

“Do you think I should take the cake out of the freezer?” She asked, not shifting her gaze. “The instructions say to let it sit out before you serve it, so the ice cream isn’t too hard.”

“Maybe. It’s 1pm already, so it’s probably a good time,” replied Ed, his voice hollow. 

Oppressive silence filled the room once more. 

Emily took a deep breath and sighed, before turning towards the fridge-freezer. 

As she stepped towards Ed, he moved aside, his eyes flickering to her face for a moment, before returning to the fruit. 

“I’ll top up the snacks while I’m out there,” he said, turning and reaching for a bag of chips.  

“Ok. Do you want more guacamole?”

“No, I think there’s still quite a lot left, but I’ll check when I’m out there.”

Emily looked at him. His gaze slid to the floor. 

“Do you want a beer?”

“No. Thanks. I’m good.”

“Are you, though?” Emily said, turning to face him. “Are you? ‘Good?’”

Ed’s jaw tightened. “Let’s not do this now. Please.” 

“We have to talk about this. You have to tell me what’s going on.”

“This is not the time nor the place. Let’s just focus on Harry, OK? This is his day, after all.”

“There’s always something, though, isn’t there? You’re never willing to talk to me anymore. I know I’ve been busy with work, but you’re so distant, even more than normal,” her voice trailed off. 

Opening the bag of chips, Ed turned to her, his expression guarded. 

“OK. I hear what you’re saying. Let’s just get through today and then we’ll talk, yes?”

Emily clenched her teeth. 

“Get through it?” she said in an icy tone. “I’m sorry if this is such a hardship for you. Is there somewhere you’d rather to be?” 

“For Christ’s sake, Emily, just stop, OK? This isn’t helping,” Ed said, dumping the chips into a bowl.

“Helping what, Ed?” she spat, folding her arms and squaring herself towards him. “What is it exactly that needs help? Your attitude? Our marriage? There are so many options to choose from, after all.”

“Keep your voice down,” Ed hissed. “People can hear you.”

Emily slammed a hand down on the counter.

“You know what, Ed? I don’t give a shit anymore. Let them hear me. I’m sick of pretending to be this perfect family with a perfect life, when it’s obviously just bullshit. Do you even love me anymore?”

A thought raced through her mind. “Did you ever really love me?”

Ed saw her expression, and the unasked question it held, and he looked stunned. 

Reaching towards her, he whispered, “Don’t say that. You know I love you. I’ve always loved you.”

Emily stepped back, her breath catching in her throat. 

“Do you, though? Because you have a funny way of showing it.”

Ed reached out again. 

“Don’t touch me!” Emily said, jerking her hand away. 

It caught the edge of the glass platter and they both turned to see it spin. 

They stared in horror as it spun around and around. 

Before they could react, it reached the edge of the counter, tipped, and smashed onto the tiled floor. 

Shards of glass flew everywhere. 

Emily gasped and dropped down to a crouch, picking up the broken glass and strawberries, trying to see through the tears that streamed down her face. 

Ed was beside her now, holding her elbow, gently lifting her to her feet. 

“Stop. I’ll get the broom. You’ll hurt yourself if you try to pick it up by hand.”

“Too late,” Emily said, as a scarlet bead of blood grew on her fingertip. 

It trickled down her finger and into her hand, mixing with the juice of the strawberries. 

Ed wrapped a paper napkin around it and squeezed. 

“It’s OK. We can fix this,” he said. “It was just an old platter, no harm done. Now let me get the broom and I’ll clear this up.”

As he turned to go, Emily held his arm.  

“Ed? We’re going to be OK, aren’t we?” she asked. 

Concern flickered across his face before he said, “Yes, everything is going to be fine. Now go freshen up, while I clean up this mess. Everybody’s waiting for the cake.”

As the children gathered around the table, the chattering subsided, replaced by an expectant hush. 

Harry sat at the center of the group, his eyes gleaming as he admired the huge Transformers ice-cream birthday cake set before him. 

“Ready, everyone?” asked Emily, lighting the candles and beginning to sing. 

A chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ rang out, everyone smiling as Harry beamed with joy. 

He knelt up in his chair. Leaning forward, he blew with all his might. 

Everyone cheered and there were shouts of, “Make a wish!” 

Harry screwed up his freckled face and grinned. 

“I wonder what he’s wishing for?” thought Emily, a hard knot forming in her stomach. 

She cleared her throat and said brightly, “Let’s cut the cake, shall we?” 

Cheers rang out, and cake was distributed to a multitude of small, grabbing hands. 

One mother patted Emily’s arm and said, “What a lovely day. Just perfect. You must be so proud.” 

Emily smiled. “Yes, it’s been wonderful. Thank you so much for coming.” 

“It was a pleasure. We wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”

Emily turned to the table to collect the discarded paper plates, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.

She glanced over at Ed, who was laughing as he swung Harry around and around in circles. Harry screamed with glee and shouted, “Faster, Daddy, faster!”

She watched them collapsing into a heap on the grass, laughing and hugging. Philip and Sophie stood watching and laughing as well. They had grown up so much over the last year, now they looked more like young adults than her precious babies. 

“Mum,” Philip shouted, “come here and let’s take a family photo.”

She put the plates down, adjusted her hair, and walked over to her family. 

They leaned in together and smiled at the camera. 

“Say cheese!” said Ed. 

“Cheese!” they all shouted, and Emily did her best to smile for the photograph. 


Want more? Buy your very own copy of 'Kiss the Sun' here!
Available in paperback, Kindle or on KU. 

bottom of page