“Happy birthday to you~”
In a dimly-lit room, the flames on the candles wavered slightly as several people sang happy birthday to a special little girl: A young brunette with twin pigtails sat in the middle of it all.
“Happy birthday dear Lisa~”
With a smile on her face, Lisa stared at her Red Velvet cake in excitement. She had always wanted to try it, the countless times she had seen the cake at the bakery window, and only after a lot of effort did she convinced her parents to buy the cake. After all, it was a special occasion.
Yet, despite this being one of her most memorable birthdays so far, Lisa frowns slightly. She looks toward the glass sliding doors and into the small yet memorable garden. Snow can be seen falling from the dark sky, with white particles occasionally landing on the clear glass, slowly covering it making it translucent.
“Happy birthday dear Lisa~”
When will she come? It’s been so long since they had last seen each other.
“Happy birthday to you!”
As the chorus ended, Lisa again puts up her biggest smile to show her excitement toward the thought of making her wish.
Well, she can wait a bit longer.
“Alright Lisa, you can blow out your candles now!”
Closing her eyes, Lisa clasped her hands together, intertwining her fingers. Silently, she makes her wish. The same wish as her previous birthdays. She could feel her parents staring at her, desperately trying to figure out what Lisa wished for. Lisa smiled slightly. Her parents always did this in an attempt to fulfill her wishes. While she always had appreciated their goodwill, this wish, like before, isn’t something they can help with.
Taking in a big inhale of air, she blew out the candles in one swoop. The dimly-lit room was now pitch dark. Her parents cheered for their little girl. Yet, Lisa found the room to be a lot colder than before. Sure, it is supposedly colder than before due to the candles being blown out, but this type of chill is different from that...
Suddenly, Lisa spotted a figure in her peripheral vision. Looking up, her sight meets a lone figure, standing outside in the snow, silver hair covered by white bits.
Yelling for her friend that she had been yearning to see, Lisa stood up abruptly, almost knocking over her chair in the process, and started running outside.
Only when she ran outside did she start feeling the breezing cold pierced her skin and seeped into her bones. The snow became a fierce blizzard as the wind grew harsher. Each snowflake stung her skin, slowly breaking down her previous warmth from inside. As Lisa thought about grabbing a coat, she looked back and found her house had vanished.
“Is this what you want?”
Lisa turned back and found herself looking at the silver-haired girl. Her physique is just as she remembered, but she was now slightly taller and had longer hair. Her golden eyes were void of any emotion. Her lips moved slowly, each word stung Lisa like a needle into her heart.
“You won’t ever get back what you previously had.”
“No!” Lisa retaliated. “You will come back with me! You made a promise, Yuk-”
“Things will never be the same.” The girl cut off Lisa’s rebuttal curtly and started walking away from Lisa.
“No!” Lisa tried to walk forward but tripped in the snow, her tiny stature falling onto the icy surface. Her body is quickly buried by the relentless snow that kept on falling as she laid there, not having the strength to pull herself up.
Please. Come back.
She starts feeling her consciousness fading away bit by bit as seconds pass. There, she lies in the raging storm. Motionless.
In the last effort to pull herself up, only did Imai Lisa find herself in her bed, cold sweat forming on her forehead. Outside, the rain battered heavily on her windows.
Lisa panted heavily at the memory of the vivid feeling in that dream. She got up and closed the curtains on her windows, slightly muffling the sound of rain outside.
Moving back onto her bed, she plopped herself back into her pillow, trying to recollect the details of her dream that’s now more muddled after being awake for a few minutes. Her sight then landed on her alarm clock, which was sitting peacefully on her desk.
6:00 am. August 25th.
“Come on, legs! Run faster, I can’t afford to be late again!”
Lisa, with a toast between her teeth, is running as fast as possible to get to the bus stop on time. She wanted to bake some cookies this morning for her friends at school, you know, to celebrate her birthday! She was sure that the timer was set up correctly, yet she woke up 30 minutes late and found that she needed to hurry to not miss the morning bus to school. Oh well, at least the cookies were saved in the time by her mom.
As she ran, she carefully avoided the puddles to prevent her uniform and the cookies from getting wet. The rain from the previous night finally quelled in the early morning, letting Lisa get around approximately 2 hours of quality sleep after the strange dream.
She refocused her attention onto her sights and saw that the bus-stop was within her eyesight, although still far away at her current speed. The sounds of vehicles grew louder and louder as she moved further away from her quiet district, moving into the metropolitan area.
Hearing several vehicles closing in, she turned her head and found different parents in the driving seats who are driving their children to school. The cars slowed down and stopped at a red light a few meters away.
Running past the cars, Lisa’s attention was caught by one of the small children particularly, slowing down her paste. The small child, sitting comfortably in the car, also looked back at her curiously when she noticed Lisa was staring at her.
The young girl is about three years old, with dark green eyes and brown hair. Quickly losing interest in the older brunette, the child started playing with the toy doll in her arms. Lisa wasn’t able to tell exactly what the doll looked like, but she could see long, silver hair on the doll’s head. The little girl held the doll up, saying something with a smile on her vibrant face, then hugging the doll, as if never letting her go. At the sight, Lisa feels a slight weight in her chest. She can’t help but think back to her best friend from years back.
If only she didn’t let go.
She was the only one who really-
Now, because Lisa isn’t paying attention to her surroundings, she didn’t notice an incoming truck right by the intersection over the traffic light. The truck, not in Lisa’s favor, ran right over a particularly large puddle. Now, all that water is on her and her uniform is drenched. Fortunately, the cookies were fine, again.
Now snapped out of her thoughts, Lisa stood there watching the fading into the distance. Sighing, she took out her phone and checked the time, just 5 minutes left. She can’t make it.
“I am such a mess…” Lisa muttered to herself, “just why did I remember her again…on my birthday of all times...”
“Alright...this should be dry enough for the rest of the day.”
After a mad dash for the bus and some unwelcoming glares from the passengers due to her wet uniform, somehow, Lisa miraculously made it to school on time and thankfully, wasn’t scolded by her teachers.
Obviously, she doesn’t want to stay in her wet uniform for the entire day. So, during the break time in between her classes, she went into the restroom and attempted to use the hand dryers to dry her uniform.
She put the uniform on and noticed that it’s a bit wrinkly in some places, but nothing she can’t handle. As she is drying one of her sleeves again to get rid of the dampness, two of her friends from her homeroom came in, chatting about, as far as Lisa can tell, a new beauty trend or some other fashion-related topic.
“...and that day, when my boyfriend saw me in that new clothing, he completely--Oh hey Lisa-san!”
Putting up her most comforting smile, Lisa responded “Hey guys...so this-”
“Oh my god Lisa-san what happened to your uniform?!” both of her classmates exclaimed, shock evident in their expressions, “why is it so wrinkled? Did you have a bad hair morning or something?!”
“Nah not really,” Lisa explained, huffing slightly at her misfortune, “It is just when I was running to the bus stop my uniform got drenched-”
“Ah damn whoever wet your uniform!” one of her classmates expresses her anger, “when I almost got drenched by this weirdo in the school once, I made that knuckle-head apologize over and over again. Don’t you agree so, Nara?”
“I know right!” Lisa’s other classmate also started speaking up “like I spent all this time in the morning to get the perfect outlook, some stupid idiot just had the guts to destroy all my effort. These people are complete jerks.”
Lisa stood there, watching her classmates ranting. While she felt a bit more comforted that her friends showed concern in a way, something just doesn’t exactly click for her.
“....and then I had to spend all this money just because that jerk-face messed my order up! Ah, what assholes.” Her friends, with their faces a bit red from complaining, finally stopped with irritated expressions.
Seeing them finally calmed down from the earlier rant, Lisa spoke up, “yeah guys I know that feeling all so well. Hmm, my shirt is still not completely dry, so do you two have any spare clothes-”
“OH SHOOT WOULD YOU LOOK AT THE TIME! CLASSES ARE STARTING IN ONE MINUTE! Sorry, Lisa-san, we have to go now so we aren’t late for our classes, bye!” Her classmates, as quickly they came into the restroom, exited the small room and leaving Lisa alone.
Lisa, still with a smile on her face, turned and looked at herself in the mirror. She claps her cheeks with her hands, saying into the mirror,
“This is fine. Of course, their priorities come first. Don’t worry Lisa, they’re my friends, after all.”
Quickly, she dried the damp sleeves and left to hurry to her classes, leaving the room restroom empty once again, void of any sound or movement. Same as before.
Nothing is worse than a boring lecture from your least favorite class on your birthday.
Seriously, who's idea is it to put religion as a mandatory course?!
Lisa can’t help but sigh again. After a tedious day of classwork and demanding questions from various teachers, it is finally the last class before she can go home, enjoy her birthday cake with her mom, and retreat into her bedroom to read some romance novels. She’s so tired. Oh well, at least her classmates and her friends enjoyed the cookies.
“Wow, Lisa! These cookies tasted really good!”
“Hmm. I never tasted something so fitting. Eating these at lunchtime is really a great idea that I thought of.”
Something still felt missing though. Oh well, it’s probably not a big deal.
Feeling extremely bored, Lisa lifts her head up to try to attempt to listen to the teacher’s lecture.
“Remember, others do not cause loneliness, we trigger it in ourselves by the way we think, act, and center our lives...thus, we must…” her teacher continues a never-ending speech in the same monotone. Something about how we think or something. Lisa starts to feel tired from listening, and slowly she closed her eyelids and drifted of into her own emotions once again.
Until she felt something hard hitting her on the head.
“Ow! What the heck-” She was able to apologize to her teacher when she realized something strange.
This isn’t her classroom.
Lisa looked around and noticed that the walls, instead of exam score lists and study materials, are covered in colorful drawings and a daily task chart with different star-shaped stickers on there. Instead of a traditional wooden desk, which one would see at a normal high school, Lisa found herself sitting in a dashing red plastic chair.
Standing up, Lisa observed her surroundings a bit more closely. The floor isn’t concrete but a soft carpet with different drawings on it. Several origamis hung from the ceiling, and oddly enough, an apple that had been bitten once is on the teacher’s desk.
Just where is she?
She walks to the door and exits the classroom. Walking around the hallways, she noticed how it seemed to be less spacious but a lot more colorful, almost childish in a way. It reminded her of happier times.
When she was still around.
Suddenly, a particular figure caught her attention. She noticed a small figure with brown hair and dark green eyes with a cat-like smile, humming as she walked down the hallway and entered a classroom.
Curious if her hunch is correct, Lisa slowly inched over to the classroom, making as little sound as possible. When she looked into the classroom through the see-through window on the classroom door, she realized.
That’s her in elementary school.
And this particular day…
In the classroom, the teacher, as Lisa remembered, took out the attendance sheet and checked for a particular date.
“Today’s special birthday student is…..Imai Lisa!”
She watched her younger self jumped excitedly up and down in the chair. Lisa can’t help but smile a bit at the sight.
“Here! Here!” The younger Lisa responded chirpily, a big smile on her face, “alright, I got something for everyone….cat-themed cookies! I made it together with mama!”
Her elementary school used to have a tradition that whoever has a birthday, their parents are supposed to bring in some sort of gift for everyone. She did remember that on that particular day, she insisted to her mom that she wanted to hand the cookies to everyone.
“Alright! Now Lisa, can you put the tray containing the cookies in the center desk?” the teacher politely asked.
The small brunette nodded eagerly, and with some help from the teacher, brought the large tray of cookies onto the table. The cat-shaped cookies all had chocolate chips for their eyes, and the whispers were whipped cream. Lisa thought back to how she spent 30 minutes trying to squeeze it out perfectly. Ah, it sure took a long time.
“Okay. Now everybody must sing Happy Birthday to Lisa before each grabbing one cookie. Remember, everyone can only grab one cookie.”
“Yes, teacher!” all the remaining students responded.
“Happy birthday to you~”
Watching her memory replay before her, she did notice a few things that she didn’t notice before. Although the majority of the kids are singing the song, some have this hungry look in their eyes, like a predator preparing to jump on their prey. While some just sang with a disinterested tone, yet still looked ready to acquire a cookie for themselves.
“Happy birthday to you Lisa~”
Lisa watched her cookies being taken one by one, each kid stuffed their faces full of the cookie and smiled in content.
If only things would last forever.
And ironically, she felt another bonk on her head.
“Sleeping in class huh? Well, Imai-san, you better not be caught sleeping next time,” back into the real world, the serious teacher berated her before walking back to the desk and continuing her lecture. The students either whispering, giggling, or straight up laughing at her misfortune.
If only things stayed the same.
“Ah finally! My sweet, sweet bed~”
Quite literally crashing into her bed, Lisa hugged her pillow tightly. After walking home, she and her mom celebrated her birthday in the living room. This time, two small, but tasty, red velvet cake for them both. After making her wish, Lisa blew out the candles. Now she is officially 17. Hur-ray.
“Alright. Time to read these romance novels and fics I’ve been stocking up!”
Opening her laptop, she browsed through the online fiction websites, looking for something good to read. As she read, she occasionally made comments.
“Oh this story is so sweet~ the hero finally saved the girl~”
“Ohh the main character just saved her from that guy, huh?”
“Of course these two should be together, they are made for each other!”
Devouring fic after fic, Lisa enjoyed herself as she indulged herself in different fictional settings.
As she finished a rather long story and went back into the endless list of fics, a single tag caught her attention.
“Huh, this is new….A soulmate au…”
Her interest caught by the tags of the fic, Lisa read the fic thoroughly. And in the end? Damn, it’s so good.
“Ah~How the protagonist found her long lost best friend through communicating by writing messages to each on their body and got together in the end, so romantic~”
An idea began to form in her head.
Nah, this is ridiculous.
But it’s worth a shot?
She gets off her bed and quickly walks to her desk. Going through her messy cabinets, Lisa finally found a red marker that she’s rather content with. Then she jumped onto her bed again and wrote a single message on her right arm:
The writing lingered on her arm. Two seconds passed. Nothing happened. Five minutes passed. Nothing happened.
“Ah...I was getting most hopes up too high….No way this actually works.”
Yet, Lisa sat there, looking intently at the single message on her arm, waiting for any sort of response. Hours pass. Tired, she slowly drifted off to sleep.
“Onee-chan! Come on, let’s eat our breakfast together~”
“I can’t, Hina! I need to rush to school now! It is my duty as part of the disciplinary committee!”
Slamming the door to her house, her sister’s yelling is slowly drowned out as the long-teal-haired girl started biking to school. Really, why is her sister still so attached to her? They’re high schoolers!
Suddenly, she felt an itchy feeling on her right arm. Probably because of the cold, she thought to herself.
But in reality, a single, blue rose formed on the back of her right hand, with one word on her arm.