'Come on Danny. Join us,' I hear a distant voice call. Looking up through the dark night, I can just make out an outline of a young man in the blur, his face over shadowed, but I managed to recall who he was. Stretching my numb lips into an open smile, I raised my arm to wave at him, calling out, 'I'll be right there, Brendan.'

The figure of the boy gave no sign of hearing my call as he started to laugh with a person beside him that I couldn't see in the dark, I supposed at a shared joke. His laugh was faint and it echoed, as if there was a great distance between us, and not just the ten steps from the back door. I raised my hand again to get his attention, but he and his invisible companion left for the party without a glance back and soon even his faint laughter faded away.

I strained my ears but I couldn't hear the commotion of the party that I knew was taking place on the front lawn, nor Brendan's voice. It was as if the emptiness of the house and Mum's pretentious shaped garden hedges swallowed all sounds and prevented them from reaching me, leaving me in an almost unnerving silence. It was not that I actually wanted to hear anything any way, it was just this silence and being alone in the dark; although it wasn't completely dark around me, as faint light shined from the house windows; giving the backyard a strange faded glow. It made certain outlines hazy to my eyes, almost making my vision swim, so I decided to conceal myself behind the water tank, away from the light, and hide in its bulky shadow.

'The name's Denise. Not Danny,'I huff in slight annoyance, leaning against the dark blue water tank. I gazed at the sky, watching the clouds that were glazed that horrible shade of pale watery pink in the night sky; a sure sign of rain to come.

I pictured the people who Mum had invited in my mind, but I couldn't remember their faces. Most of them were my old friends from high school. I wasn't even very sure why Mum invited some of them. I envisioned the party in my mind's eye; the barbequed food on paper plates, the gifts resting on a decorated table, all wrapped in pretty pink paper. And I secretly appealed to the clouds to let down their fury.

I could just see it. The rain, golden yellow in the electric light. I could almost hear the surprised shouts. Chaos, people running for shelter, except for the few who were already drunk, dancing and rolling around in the muck.

Closing my eyes, I could see it in vivid detail; the abandoned front yard. Rain covered tables and chairs, forgotten food now spoiled, the paper plates congealed. Various bottles and cups left behind, filling with water, mixing with the last drops of alcohol; the tinkling reminded me of chimes.

I smile as I watch the rain pour over the gifts, soaking them, draining the pink colour out of the paper, the ribbons left dripping, and the meaningless words on the cards washed away.

'But that's what I want. I don't want a big party, I don't want presents. I just want …'I pause, lost in that unfortunate memory. I was a young girl then, with long light brunette locks, which Mum had teased into curls for the occasion. Dressed in a rain ruined flouncy strapless pink fairy floss dress that I hated, alone in the rain, among the filling beer bottles and ruined food, shivering helplessly in the cold, my skin frozen and chapped almost as pink as my dress.

My twelfth birthday party was ruined, and it was all Mum's fault. She dressed me up in an embarrassing princess dress, pulled my hair into curls till I cried, invited none of my friends, and all of my frumpy relatives. And although Mum promised me that she had invited Dad, he never turned up.

I remember. Everything was cold and numb, and the only warmth I could feel were those burning hot tears.

'I don't know what I want. But I do know what I don't want, and it's this cursed, stupid, sham of a party. I hate parties. I always have.'I curse, shaking the shivering girl out of my mind as I wipe away the stinging salty hotness pouring down my cheeks. Cursing again in the dark, I mutter, 'Don't cry stupid. You'll only make your eyes red. And we certainly don't want them thinking I was crying, because I'm not.'

'Danny? Danny darling?' The unmistakable voice of my mum seemed to whine though the thin night air like an old war siren. I was especially disgusted to hear she was using the 'people' voice; a voice mum uses when people other than my family are around. A voice covered in a sickly sweet pink powder sugar with those multi-coloured pure sugar frosted sprinkles all over.

'Why do people insist on nicknaming me Danny?' I wonder listening to Mum's frosty sweet cries as she walked right past my hiding place. I looked up at the sky so not to see her pass and looked up at the moon instead. It was round and full and surprisingly bright, though none of its silver light reached me in the garden.

Through the nights haze it almost looked like there were two moons in the sky; almost like identical headlights blaring into my eyes. Caught in those unearthly headlights glare like a helpless little animal, I could almost hear the screech of car tires, and my head was full of the distant screams as those lights seemed to draw closer.

I quickly look down and shake my head slightly as I talk to myself for a distraction, 'I know Mum has a hard time understanding me, always has … then again, that could just be the whole 'poor me' thing.'I sigh, being careful to keep my bare toes out of the almost surreal light that beamed from the house like a golden haze.

'Or maybe it's just that I don't understand what I'm going through.' I frown and argue with myself, 'How can I possibly not know what I'm going through? No one knows me like I do.' I hold my head up proudly in the dark, knowing no one's watching my little debate with myself.

Although I was acting proud I knew deep inside I didn't feel it. I knew I was running away; hiding so not to face the problem at hand, something that I admit to myself that I always seemed to do, all my life. Just one more thing I blame Mum for.

Thinking about Mum I glance around at the garden, and her presence seems to surround me. From the freshly mowed grass, perfectly trimmed hedges, and properly kept pink roses with the longest and sharpest thorns; Mum's pride and joy. Surrounded by this sea of perfection, and everything I've grown to hate, my surroundings which before felt hazy and distant all of a sudden feel almost too realistic. Outlines come into harsh contrast and the faded garden swells until I am drowning in deep amass of colour. My senses seem overwhelmed as at last some faint sounds from the gathering on the front lawn breaks the surreal silence. I know I should be happy that things at least reassemble everything from my everyday life, but it only makes me feel even more queasy and disturbed.

'Danny? Danny darling? Is that you?' I hear a sickly sweet voice coo through the dark. Looking up I can see Mum making a beeline in my direction, dressed in her faded pink cocktail dress, the one that always made me think she looked like a ridiculous moulting flamingo.

'Crap.' I curse under my breath, putting my head in my hands to avoid seeing her approach, 'Shouldn't have moved. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!'

'Did you say something dear?' Mum asked, moving to stand right over me, her face a dark blur.

'No, nothing Mum.' I reply as sweetly as I can manage while my face does a strange kind of spasm when I try to stretch it into a smile, because suddenly seeing her so up close makes me want to cry and scowl at the same time.

'What are you doing out here dear?' Mum inquired. Forcing my face into a more convincing smile, trying to stop my lips from trembling, my voice shook with emotions barely contained as I replied, 'Just needed a breath of fresh air.'

'Well, you've been gone for a few minutes now' Mum sighed putting her hands on her hips. I couldn't help smirking; it took all my strength not to laugh out loud, because it would have been a harsh empty sound.

'Yeah, sounds about right. Missing me for a few minutes, when just two weeks ago, you caused me to go away.' I growl, glancing sideways at her, but Mum continues to chatter, complaining about my lack of attendance and about all the hard work she had put into the party.

Realizing she hadn't heard me made me angry, yet made me feel strangely empty inside. Knowing this made me think about my friends, who I supposed were out on the front lawn right now, at the party I really didn't want to be in. 'We haven't seen each other for a long time, but I know they never really missed me, as I don't miss them.'

'Besides,' I sniffle, wiping my cold nose on my shirt sleeve, 'However long they wait for their 'Danny', she'll never come back. They'll never see her again.' Shivering in the dark, once again I mumble under my breath, 'Why did Mum insist on having this stupid thing?'

'Danny? Are you alright honey?' Mum was suddenly kneeling beside me, the moon now right behind her head, like a halo; a dark angel with no face.

'No Mum, I'm fine. What makes you say that?' I couldn't help backing away slightly, giving a nervous girlish giggle, making myself feel like a cowardly fool.

'No. It's nothing dear. I just thought …' Mum fussed when the air gave a strange shiver, and the image of my pink cocktail dressed mother began to washout, like someone had spilt coffee on her photograph.

'Well, the party's waiting Danny.' Mum's fading voice spoke as she got off her knees and turned to walk back into the house.

Panicking I made to go after her, but I froze when she turned to face me. Suddenly dressed in that same suite from that day, her perfectly permed hair in a mess standing beside her car in the street, the bonnet had a deep dint in the front, and there was glass, broken glass everywhere, her form illuminated by ghostly headlights as she towered over me. But being able to see her face was the worst of all, exactly like the last time I saw it; perfectly done up with makeup for work, but twisted with horror and grief.

I clamped my eyes shut and shook my head violently, and when I opened them again Mum was transparent and unreal again and I thankfully could not see her face as she spoke to me in a faint gentle voice as she disappeared, 'All of these people travelled all the way here just for you, you know that dear?'

Breathing deeply I turn and face the tank, trying to stop the tears streaming down my face and restrain my bodies shaking.

I glanced back behind me, almost hoping to see Mum there, but instead I realise the backyard was growing dark despite the golden light steaming from the house, fading into blackness and nothingness

'No. I don't want to go.'I whine leaning my forehead against the tank, hoping its coolness would sooth me, but the tank had no temperature or feeling, making my forehead feel numb. I pushed away from it as it was swallowed in nothingness, and I was forced to back up to the houses back door as the back garden disappeared.

Pinned in the doorway, with no way to escape, I grudgingly resign to my fate. 'It better rain this year.' I sigh, turning to walk in through the door, talking to no one in particular, 'Otherwise I will not forgive you.'

'Everyone gather around, please.' I heard Mum's voice as I walked out onto the front lawn. People start to stand; others turned their heads as they sat. 'I would like to thank you for coming today and joining us on this occasion.' There was no applause, and there was hardly a whisper among the party guests. Walking towards the gathering, I ease my tense features into a calm expression, a small tremulous smirk playing on my thin lips.

The guests sat on white fold out chairs around white plastic outside tables covered in white table cloths. The napkins are white, the glass coasters are white, even the centre pieces on each table matched; a small bouquet of white and pink roses.

'Mum's gone overboard this year.'I shake my head as I amble towards the hushed crowd as Mum continued to make her speech, 'Like she does every year, for everything.'

As I get closer, I look at the party guests. They are formally dressed, the women in dresses and high heels, the men in suites with plain ties. Walking through the crowd, I glance at their depressingly drab garments; there were hardly any bright colours, just a sea of black.

I glanced awkwardly at Mum, trying not to see her face; my mind was now haunted by the memory of her horrified face behind the driver's wheel. She stood at the front of the party procession, no longer sporting that terrible cocktail dress, but instead she seemed to be wrapped in black and mourning, wringing her cherry pink lace handkerchief in her hands. Seeing this rare show of distress on my Mum's part I couldn't help taking a glance at her face.

'I would also like to thank -' Mum gushed, when there was a loud rumble of thunder and it started to rain. As people exclaimed and ran for shelter, I grinned. Mum's annoying party speech had been interrupted and I thankfully could no longer see that new look on her face.

'Thanks Mum, really. It was a nice party,' I smiled, knowing she couldn't hear me, nor could anyone else. 'You ... you should know Mum. I don't blame you, not at all.' I nod, satisfied, as I turn my face up to look straight into the moon, smiling as its silver light shone directly down on me, making my own skin look ghostly white.

My funeral after party had been ruined, the same way as that fateful birthday party. That was the best send off I could ask for.