November 11th, 1618.
“Happy Birthday, Kendal,” was the phrase of the day. How many times today alone had she heard it? At least once every class. However, truth be told, for the former Human/Pyromander hybrid turned Fox-Lycan, the phrase was wearing thin.
Birthdays had never been some grand affair in her life up until now. Her father had always made it a low key, private thing just between the two of them. Both knew what fate awaited Kendal in the future- death had been such a certainty that neither wanted to focus on it much…
But things had changed. She was going to live. She wasn’t going to burn out. She was going to have more birthdays than she knew what to do with…
And while the Phrase “Happy Birthday” should have been- had been a welcome change, it was only at first. After the fourth time someone said it, the phrase had started to lose meaning. It wasn’t important. Classmates she’d barely gotten to know were congratulating her on something that had been out of her control. Her birthday had nothing to do with why she was even still alive. Her birthday was… was meaningless in the grand scheme of things!
And yet at the same time she didn’t want to celebrate August 3rd as the date of her near death. Not at all. Who wanted to celebrate the day they got a hole punched in their chest and nearly died from a magical bleed out? Not her.
And it was with such a paradox that the phrase “Happy Birthday, Kendal” started making her ears twitch. It was with the warm smiles of kids her own age greeting her that her tail started swishing angrily.
It was with all of that… that if she hadn’t had Tony and Miri’s coaching that she almost certainly would have lost control and transformed and probably gone on a rampage at least once already.
And wasn’t that a terrifying thought?
Instincts she was still coming to grips with were colliding with her emotions towards all of this and… and…
As Kendal Kaie opened the door to her apartment in the Student Dorms Building, she came to the conclusion that she just wanted today to end already.
“Oh! Hey there, Kit!” Ah- and there was one other source of mild annoyance. Her roommate. Temporary for the moment, or so they’d both been told due to each other’s unique circumstances. Elise Eh’yre was an Iconox girl who happened to be graduating from the First Year into the Second Year at the end of, well, the year, and thus, most likely was moving out for another apartment at that time.
Meanwhile, Kendal would be hitting the end of her first year closer to around the end of the next year. Whole months extra compared to other students, but deemed ‘necessary’ given Kendal’s need to ‘catch up’ on certain magic skills that other students held as baseline well before they joined the academy.
And then there was the other kicker. Elise was in Mikari’s ‘extra’ classes. The ones that would result in Black Arm Certification. Kendal wasn’t jealous. She wasn’t! The problem wasn’t even that Elise, through Mikari, had picked up the nickname Ayako had given Kendal regarding her new fox-type Lycanthropy. “Kit,” short for “Kitsune,” a-
“Hey,” Kendal belatedly greeted after realizing she’d been staring for several moment. “Yeah. Sorry. Just too many people saying happy birthday in a row. It gets a little tiring.”
“Huh,” Elise blinked. “I’d never had thought about that.”
“I’m just still adjusting, you know,” she motioned at her ears. Kendal wasn’t sure how much Elise knew about Kendal’s odd variation of the standard Lycanthropy strain, but she had told Elise that she’d only recently been turned during the early days of summer. Elise nodded as she remembered that fact exactly, and then-
“Oh! That reminds me! Your Dad dropped by and left you something. I put it in your room!” Elise smiled. “Hope you don’t mind?”
“No, that’s great, thanks,” Kendal forced enough energy into a smile, and then headed towards her bedroom.
The problem? The problem was that Elise was just too nice.
The problem was that Elise and Kendal wouldn’t be roommates for more than a few months before being shuffled around. The problem was that forming an attachment to each other was… It was going to be painful when their schedules just didn’t line up.
Kendal closed her bedroom door behind her and looked at the large paper bag standing on her bed. “Oh, dad,” she sighed, and headed over to see what she’d gotten.
Attached to one side was a card in an envelope taped with one simple piece of tape. “Kendal,” was written on it with her dad’s familiar handwriting. She took the card, and opened it. It was just a simple message, vaguely mentioning something about dinner… and much to her confusion, not one mention of her birthday. She’d expected him to avoid mentioning it as they always did, and even considering her earlier annoyance, it’s absence should have been welcoming… but…
She could feel her ears flexing in annoyance at the words “Happy Birthday” being absent anywhere on the card.
Kendal put the card aside, and opened the bag. Inside was… was a dress. It was sealed in a plastic case and marked with a tag that Kendal recognized as belonging to the Custom Tailoring shop at the Mystery Mall. Even so, she recognized the dress in a heartbeat. It was something definitely made for formal wear- she knew that because her mother had worn a dress eerily like this in one of the few photographs they had of her when she was alive.
As Kendal pulled the dress out of the bag, the bag tipped over and spilled out the rest of its contents onto the bed. A set of matching socks to go with the dress, and… there was an envelope that had “Kendal” written on it again, but this time in some very unfamiliar handwriting.
Hesitantly, Kendal set the dress down on her bed and opened the envelope. Inside was at least one sheet of folded over paper- yellowed with age, but still firm and strong with a protection enchantment. A letter, she realized.
“My dearest Kendal,” it read. “I’m writing this card to you before you’re even born. I don’t know what kind of girl you’ll grow up to be, Pyromander or Human. I don’t know if I’ll be smiling as I hand you this dress, or if I’ll be leaving it as a surprise with some silly remark about it being a surprise.” Kendal sniffed as she started to get an idea of who this card had been written by. “I’m sure whatever the case may be, you’re probably looking at me now and asking, ‘Really, Mom? You gave me a letter written from before I was even born?’ I’d tell you to read on. We’d laugh. I’m sure of it.” A line break, Kendal took a breath before reading on.
“Despite the doctors saying everything should be fine, there’s always a chance something could go wrong in labor; especially for a Human/Pyromander child. I wanted you to atleast have something from me incase that happened. In case I’m not there to give this to you directly.” The handwriting became a bit shaky here, or was it Kendal’s hand trembling that made the page unsteady? “I love you, my little baby girl. My little tiny spark of flames, ready to ignite into something beautiful. I don’t know where we’ll be in seventeen years, but I’m hoping that where-ever it is, you’ve become a wonderful person. I don’t know what places we’ll go to, or what extravagant party we’ll be throwing… But I’m giving you this dress to wear. I was given it on my seventeenth birthday by my mother, who got it from her mother. It’s changed hands often, worn very occasionally on only the best of occasions. I’m sure that on your seventeenth birthday, you’ll be wearing it with a smile.”
Kendal briefly put the letter down so as to not damage it as she wiped the tears out of her eyes.
“Happy Birthday, Kendal,” The letter continued. “If you have any questions about the dress, just ask me tonight at dinner. If I’m there, I’ll be there to answer…” The page ended there, and Kendal turned it over, “If I’m not… maybe I should write another letter and tell your father to keep it safe until then. And… If I’m not there. If I died giving birth to you, Kendal, please tell Ranagi that I love-”
Kendal didn’t finish reading the letter, as she dropped it back onto the bed as she started crying. She stumbled backwards, back planted firmly against the door, and slid down to the floor as the tears flowed endlessly.
There was one thought running through her head the entire time…
“I love you too, mom.”