Alice watched with interest as Sen carefully arranged ten black candles on the two layered cake. Icing-tipped fingers stuck the candles into the cake one by one, placing the ten candles in a circle. The entire vanilla cake was covered in light yellow icing with the edges lined with brown chocolate swirls. It was very tempting to just grab a handful of cake and dine right then and there, but Mrs. Takashi was always keeping a constant eye on the cake she had slaved for over three hours.
“Just a little more...” Sen said under her breath, trying to get a reluctant candle to stand up straight.
The wax figure titled from side to side with every touch of the finger but at last, it halted in the perfect position. As though she wold disturb the candle, Sen slowly straightened and marveled her handiwork.
“Now that looks good, huh, Alice?”
The Pikachu nodded in agreement although she could not take her black eyes off the cake. Noticing, Sen offered her fingers which were still coated in a fine layer of icing. Obliging, Alice began to suck on them, making her owner laugh as it tickled her skin.
“Sen, get that pokemon off the table.”
Sen stopped her chuckle to look up at her mother, the honey-haired woman standing on a ladder with streamer in hand. Not wanting to heighten the stern look she gave her daughter, Sen gently put Alice on the floor.
“I don’t know why you insist on it being outside instead of a poke ball,” Fiona Takashi complained as she lightly stepped off the ladder. “It is
a pokemon, after all.”
, Mom,” her daughter corrected. “And Alice isn’t just a pokemon, she’s my best friend.”
With a mutter of ‘Don’t know why she didn’t pick a cat instead’, Fiona dropped the subject with a wave of her hand.
“You should get dressed, the guests will be here in about an hour.”
Sen nodded and headed to her room, a confused Alice at her heels.
“How do I look?”
Alice backed up and inspected Sen from head to toe, the girl fiddling under the stare.
Instead of her usual casual clothes, Sen was now wearing a dress that came down to her ankles, something her mom let her choose several weeks ago for this occasion. The dress was a shade of baby blue edged with dark navy. The V neck line was navy as it stretched down, a white fringed layer underneath, with the sleeves short and cuffed. A navy sash was tied around her waist with miniature beads dangling from golden thread, the round surfaces catching the faint light that streamed into the room. The bottom of the dress was lined with white silk, smooth to the touch, with black dress slippers on her pale feet.
Alice gave a thumbs up sign, making Sen smile.
“I’m glad I don’t look like a total dork,” she chuckled, inspecting herself on her hung mirror.
Untying the band of her ponytail, she let her hair cascade down to her shoulder blades with some loose strands getting in her face. With a grin, she took a brush from her table and ran it through her hair a couple of times, pinning a butterfly clip on the side of her head when finished. Maybe it wasn’t the most beautiful hairstyle that would go along on a day like this but, what could she say? Sen was a simple girl, happy to use a simple style.
“I wonder how Gwen is?” Sen mused with a plop on her bed, the electric mouse jumping beside her.
She ran a hand through the Goldeen comforter, fingering the tail of a plush Meowth well worn by years of play. Gwen Len had started her journey three months ago with a Piplup (a rather stubborn one, she recalled) and as Sen’s long time friend, she was invited to the party.
“I bet you she caught some pretty cool pokemon and maybe a badge!”
“That’s true; we’ll catch up.”
When she entered the living an hour later, it appeared completely different than before. The streamers she had brought from the store were hung in loops around the room like the ribbons of icing on her birthday cake. All classy, beige table cloths were replaced with vibrant red. There were people seated in the living room (extra chairs provided) most of them relatives ranging from grandparents to four year old cousins. Among the many family members was a tall, blonde headed figure whose torn jean jacket seemed oddly out of place in the sea of dress shirts.
The person turned and her cerulean eyes lit up in recognition as Sen came near.
“Sen! Long time no see!”
Gwen surveyed her friend with a smirk, gloved hands deep in baggy jeans.
“You know,” she started. “I don’t think I’ve seen you in a dress this classy before.”
With the hint of a blush, Sen laughed.
a special occasion after all; the day I turned ten and become a trainer!”
Gwen’s expression turned to skeptical, brow raised.
“Your mom said yes?”
The brown haired girl looked down at this, meeting Alice’s eyes in the process.
“Well, she didn’t say yet but how could she not? It’s not like I’ve done anything bad as to not let me be a trainer.”
Gwen shrugged with a nod, sitting back down on a spare seat.
“Good point. Do you want to see my badges?”
Sen eagerly nodded and took a seat beside the short haired girl. Smiling at her friend’s enthusiasm, Gwen took out her satin case and opened it. Two badges gleamed up at Sen, their surfaces polished to perfection. The first one, the Coal Badge, was a rich rust color with the edges cut in a smooth spherical shape. The second one, the Forest Badge, consisted of three emerald triangles, two at the bottom and one at the top so it gave the appearance of a pine tree.
“Ka...” Alice awed, small eyes now twice their size.
“They are so cool!” Sen managed to say when Gwen closed the case.
“I couldn’t have done without the help of my pokemon.” Gwen stated proudly.
When her fingers hovered over her poke balls to release her pokemon, Sen spotted Scarlett and Coal sauntering over to them. Scarlett was wearing a simple ruby dress paired with an orange scarf that wrapped around her neck like a boa. Her veil of hair was sprinkled with tiny braids that bounced whenever she walked.
“Hey, guys.” she greeted with an obviously fake smile.
Gwen put up a facade of her own and returned the flash of white.
In a show worthy of an Oscar, the two girls shook hands like old friends. Underneath it all, though, the flames of hate were burning fiercely.
“I know,” Sen whispered to Alice who had taken cover behind her dress.“It scares me, too.”
To avoid any crossfire that you could be unleash, Sen and Alice shirked away unoticed.
"....and then she said, 'I've never seen a Caterpie so strong as to defeat a Nidoking!'"
Sen let out a laugh, although it was forced, at Grandpa Al's story of his friend's first battle as a trainer all way in Kanto. It was about half an hour later, half an hour of being forced by her mother to mingle with the party guests. Cousins were, as always, a pain in some form. The older ones were not so happy to be at her party mainly because they dubbed it as a waste of their time that could have been spent with their girl/boyfriends. The smaller ones were nothing but a nuisance with their hands that would reach for the hung banners (they sometimes managed to make them fall) and petting Alice until she was so annoyed that she had to restrain herself from shocking them. The grandparents would sit on the sofa and recount stories of themselves or their friends with, in Sen's opinion, too much uneeded detail.
"I also remember when I became a trainer, back in '61. Back then, pokemon were a lot harder to handle."
"Really?" Sen asked with a smile that mirrored the one Scarlett gave a while ago. She shifted her weight to her left log, feeling the right one going to sleep. Alice, also bored with the long yarns, plopped down bottom first on the carpeted floor and cocked her head in mock interest.
"Yep," the old man continued, fingering his cane with a smile. "That Charmander was as stubborn as stubborn could. Why, I remembered one time..."
Sen turned around to see her mom standing behind her, the woman also fixed up in a blue dress with her hair let down.
“It’s time for the cake.”
she thought as she straightened up with Alice doing the same. Facing her grandfather who looked a bit crestfallen at his tale being cut so short, she smiled warmly.
"Don't worry, Grandpa, you can tell me after we eat."
Everybody was already gathering around the dining room table where the cake was waiting with candles lit. When she took her position behind the cake, she noticed an inscription in black icing in between the circle of candles.
To the beginning of a journey
“This is it,” she whispered to Alice who had been allowed to stand on the table to view the blowing of the candles.
“This is the day we begin our journey.”
As everybody around her sang “Happy Birthday” she couldn’t help but let thoughts of the upcoming journey swim through her mind. Pokemom and badges, it was all going to be theirs. She barely registered when her mom told her to blow out the candles, Sen was just too excited. Nevertheless, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
I wish that this journey will be one to remember.
The candles were blown, cheers erupted, and she opened her eyes to a large box Mrs. Takashi was holding.
“Happy Birthday, Sen.”
From the end of the table, Gwen flashed her a smile to open it. Her fingers carefully opened the beige box and dug through the blue tissue paper that was arranged upon the items on the box. Sen smiled when she pictured the Pokedex and Poke Balls that were on the new clothes she would use as a pokemon trainer. When the last of the tissue paper was taken away, her heart sank like a boat. A nurse’s outfit was neatly folded in the box, white as starch, complete with the red crossed hat. For a moment, she couldn’t think. It had to be some sort of mistake...right?
“I knew you would like it,” Mrs. Takashi said when she took her daughter’s silence as a sign of happiness.
“I knew you would happy being sent to the Joy Academy.”
“Joy..Academy?” she managed to ask when she looked up at her mother. There was no trace of lying or joking. She was completely serious.
“So you can become a nurse.”
The world around her suddenly seemed to blur with the tears that began to well up in her eyes. Everybody’s face was unrecognizable except for Scarlett’s. The joy on her face burned right through the hot tears, taunting her with silent laughter. Closing her eyes, Sen let the tears fall onto the cake as she let felt the embarrassment of it all sink in. Here she was, dressed up in the worst moment of her life with the girl she hated looking on in glee.
And she knew exactly who to blame.
“Leave me alone, Mom!” she turned and yelled with a strangled sob.
She know knew for a fact that everybody’s gaze was locked on to her but she didn’t care. All she cared about was to show her mom how much she had hurt her. How much her dreams were now shattered, no words would ever piece them back together.
Sen couldn’t stand it anymore. The gazes, Scarlett’s face, the outfit in the box that seemed to mock her. It was all too much.
Tearing free of her mother’s gentle grip, the crushed girl ran to her room, swearing she heard a bout of cruel laughter following.