Fifty years. The children light fifty candles on the cake. The grandchildren stand in a circle around the grandfather.
"Blow out the candles!" they cry.
Grandfather begins to blow out the candles. He blows hard and ten candles go out. He inhales. The flames from the other candles lick back across the cake and re-light the ten he blew out.
"Happy Anniversary!" the children shout.
Grandmother looks worried. But grandfather smiles and blows on the cake harder this time. He gets twenty-two candles with one sustained exhalation. He inhales, and most of them are rekindled.
"Blow faster, Grandfather!" the children cry.
They are laughing and dancing around the cake. Grandmother looks worried. She tried to smile but is not successful. Grandfather's face is red. Beads of perspiration pop out on his upper lip, his forehead.
He is blowing harder, faster. The vein in his temple is throbbing. But he makes no headway on the candles.
"Do not stop for a breath, Grandfather! It is the only way you can do it!"
Grandfather's hands have turned blue. He is clutching his chest. He collapses on the floor. The vein in his temple no longer throbs. And most of the candles are still burning.
The children gather about grandmother. She is crying and they try to console her. But the grandchildren pull at her dress.
"Come on, Grandmother!" they shout. "We cannot eat the cake until someone blows out the candles."

"Golden" © copyright 1978 by Michael Hogan. Reprinted from A Lion At A Cocktail Party (Gallimaufry Press, 1978).