Marigold started going weird again on her birthday. Star remembered that birthdays were often bad times so we'd tried really hard. Star made her a beautiful big card cut into the shape of a marigold. She used up all the ink in the orange felt-tip coloring it in. Then she did two sparkly silver threes with her special glitter pen and added "Happy Birthday" in her best italic writing. They do calligraphy in Year Eight and she's very good at it. I'm still in elementary school and I'm useless at any kind of writing so I just drew on my card. As it was Marigold's thirty-third birthday I decided I'd draw her thirty-three most favorite things. I drew Micky (I'd never seen him but Marigold had described him enough times) and Star and me. Then I drew the Rainbow Tattoo Studio and the Victoria Arms and the Nightbirds club. I did them in the middle all clumped together and then round the edges I drew London and the seaside and the stars at night. My piece of paper was getting seriously crowded by this time but I managed to cram in a CD player with lots of Emerald City CDs and some high heels and a bikini and jeans and different-colored tight tops and lots of rings and bangles and earrings. I was getting a bit stuck for ideas by this time and I'd rubbed out so often that the page was getting furry so I gave up and colored it in. I wanted to do a pattern of marigolds as a border but Star had used up the orange already, so I turned the marigolds into roses and colored them crimson. Red roses signify love. Marigold was very into symbols so I hoped she'd understand. We gave her presents too. Star found a remixed version of Emerald City's greatest hits for only $2 at the Saturday morning market. I bought her a sparkly hair clasp, green to match her eyes. We even bought a special sheet of green tissue paper and a green satin ribbon to wrap up the presents. "Do you think she'll like them?" I asked Star. "You bet," said Star. She took the hair clasp and opened it up so its plastic claws looked like teeth. "I am a great present," she made it say, and then it bit the tip of my nose. Marigold gave us both big hugs and said we were darlings but her great green eyes filled with tears. "So why are you crying?" I said. "She's crying because she's happy," said Star. "Aren't you, Marigold?" "Mm," said Marigold. She sniffed hard and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She was shaking but she managed a smile. "There. I've stopped crying now, Dol, OK?" It wasn't OK. She cried on and off all day. She cried when she listened to the Emerald City CD because she said it reminded her of old times. She cried when I combed her hair out specially and twisted it up into a chic plait with her new green clasp. "God, look at my neck! It's getting all wrinkly," she said. She touched the taut white skin worriedly while we did our best to reassure her. "I look so old." "You're not old at all. You're young," said Star. "Thirty-three," Marigold said gloomily. "I wish you hadn't written that right slap bang in the middle of your card, darling. I can't believe thirty-three. That was the age Jesus was when he died, did you know that?" Marigold knew lots about the Bible because she was once in a church home. "Thirty-three," she kept murmuring. "He tried so hard too. He liked kids, he liked bad women, he stuck up for all the alternative people. He'd have been so cool. And what did they do? They stuck him up on a cross and tortured him to death." "Marigold," Star said sharply. "Look at Dol's card." "Oh yes, darling, it's lovely," Marigold said. She blinked at it. "What's it meant to be?" "Oh, it's stupid. It's all a mess," I said. "It's all the things you like most," said Star. "That's beautifulWilson, Jacqueline is the author of 'Illustrated Mum', published 2005 under ISBN 9780385732376 and ISBN 0385732376.