He looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes and said:” I wish to be surprised for my birthday. Nobody has ever done that. It was always me who made plans and invited people. When I was twenty, I got this idea in my head to be in different countries for my birthdays, which has happened since then. One year I was in Thailand, another year in Italy, and this time I will be going to Brazil. But nobody has ever surprised me!”

“When is your birthday?” I asked him.

“Two weeks from now,” he replied.

The next week, I met a few of my friends on my way to the canteen. “We are heading to Venice. Wanna join?” they said. Venice is only thirty minutes away from Padua, and we used to go there a lot. I told them I would get my lunch fast and join them. After lunch, I bought him a cake and a few candles. It was one of those supermarket chocolate cakes with white icing on the top that looked like stars. I put everything in my bag and went to Venice.

When I arrived, people were waiting for me. We all went to a place to sit near the water. There was only the blue water in front of us and some buildings far away on the other side of the water. I was not sure if they were part of Venice.

He was looking at the view and chatting. I hid behind an old wall and put the candles on the cake. There was a strong wind, and the candles did not light up. A little girl holding his mom’s hand passed by while staring at the candles. Then she said something to her mom in Italian that I didn’t get. I gave up lighting the candles, ran to him, and shouted: “Happy birthday!”

I still remember the way he smiled. His white teeth gleamed in the sunlight, and his blue eyes sparkled with true happiness.

Now his birthday is again in two weeks, and I am still at the same place writing this memory while he is on the other side of the water, far away in Canada.

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