From the overhead speakers, the tinny, repetitive notes of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ added to the cacophony of sound below. The shouts of the children, the whirring of the candy-floss machine, the squeaking of the balloon as it was twisted this way and that, the squeals of delight that emitted from the gathered observers as they recognised it as a giraffe, the cries of ‘Me next!’ that followed… such sounds merged together in this sticky, sweet melting pot of birthday cheer. It was a room thick with sugar and noise.
Two older girls sat hunched on the sofa, staring at their phones defiantly, all beanie hats and fringes. We are too old for this, their frowns seemed to say, and far too cool. The text message alert from the phone of one drew the attention of both; for a moment their frowns grew stronger; then, the simultaneous acknowledgement of a smile: he was on his way.
A sudden explosion from the table by the window caused the whole room to spasm. A balloon had exploded, trodden underfoot by a passing father in pursuit of a bowl of Wotsits. Then the wailing of the newborn, and long, cold glares cast in the direction of the offending criminal.
As if on cue, beaming away the frowns with the whites of her teeth, his wife appears in the doorway, bearer of an oversized and oversugared cake…