Birthday: Party for the Princess
The long awaited day.
Running around my spacious room, searching for a wrapped up gift at six in the morning, one could hardly say I was excited.
I was elated.
After all, my friend Sakura is turning seventeen.
I wondered if this is the first birthday she has celebrated with friends in seven years? If that’s the case, then today deserves something special. On a whim, my fingers flew over the keys of my cell phone and I held it up to my ear, listening to the line ring.
"Moshi, moshi, Meiling here. Who is this?" A tired voice yawned.
"Good morning, Meiling-chan. Did I wake you up?" I asked, worrying on my lip. Oh dear, I didn’t even think about the time.
"No, you’re fine. I woke up about ten minutes ago. What's up, Tomoyo-chan?"
"Do you want to help me decorate Sakura-chan's locker this morning?" I said, regaining my previous elated mood.
"Sure! What time do you want to meet and where?" Meiling said sounding more awake than before..
"Seven in front of the school. Is that okay with you?"
"Sounds good. Ja ne, Tomoyo-chan!"
"See you then!" I answered with a smile.
Swiftly, I gathered some ribbon, tape, paper and markers and put them in a bag with my gift. After eating a quick breakfast and saying good-bye to my mother, I departed the house with my gift, decorations, a backpack on this bright and beautiful day.
I waited patiently in front of the school five minutes till seven. I stretched my sore muscles from yesterday’s workout when I noticed another raven-haired girl on the horizon running towards me.
Tomoyo. It had to be.
"Good morning, Meiling-chan. Have you been waiting long?" Tomoyo asked me, trying to catch her breath.
"No," I answered, trying not to laugh at her gasps for air.
The other girl sighed. "Oh good. For a moment, I thought we agreed to meet at 6:45.”
"What? Scared of breaking your perfect attendance record?"
She blushed. "Not really..."
We walked through the front doors of the establishment and headed towards Sakura’s locker. Opening the door, Tomoyo and I exchanged sly smiles. The sparkling locker was clean no more.
In fact, it looked so much brighter than before...
I got to school at my usual time of 7:15. On reflex, I opened my locker as I shrugged off my bag and dropped it to the floor. I knelt down by my bag, pulled out my books, and turned to place them in my locker.
"The hell! What the crap? Is this some kind of sick joke?" I yelled in the empty hallway.
I took a closer look. There were brightly colored streamers hung inside my locker. A bag of candy sat on my books and a new dry erase board had the message, "Happy Birthday, Sakura-chan!" written in lavender marker stuck to the door on my locker.
As I scrutinized the decorations, an unexpected emotion bubbled up inside of me as I was assaulted with memories.
"Surprise Sakura! Do you like the decorations on your locker?" a younger Meiling asked her.
"I brought the candy!" Mihara Chiharu declared proudly.
"I hung the streamers," Yanagisawa Naoko added.
"We made the banner!" Sasaki Rika and Amai Jade proclaimed.
It was all just... too much to handle.
I broke down in the middle of that empty hallway, my eyes flooding with tears.
It really was too much to handle.
During lunch today, Daidouji-san, err... Tomoyo, as she insisted quite fiercely, invited me to a surprise party for Kinomoto’s birthday after school at her house.
“Do you have any idea how difficult it is to catch you alone?” Tomoyo exclaimed. “I’ve been trying to invite you over for the past week but you’re always with someone.”
“Sorry about that, Daidou-Tomoyo,” I hastily corrected after seeing her stern look. “You know how soccer season is.”
She sighed. “Unfortunately, yes, I do. Anyways, come over at five-thirty after your practice. Sakura-chan will be over at six.”
Eriol finally spoke up. “Do we need to bring a gift?”
Tomoyo shrugged. “Meiling and I are but I’ll leave that up to you. It would be nice though.”
“Where do you live?” I pulled out my phone to write down her address.
To my surprise, Eriol quickly said, “Don’t worry about it. I know where her house is. I want to stop by the shop you bought the charm bracelet at before we head over.”
Someone was calling for Tomoyo down the hall and she hastily left us. I turned to my best friend with a sly look on my face.
"So, Eriol, how do you know where her house is?" I asked.
My best friend just rolled his eyes.
"You have the memory of an Alzheimer patient,” he exclaimed in exasperation. “She lives down the street from me, remember?”
I stood there, dumbfounded. Once he mentioned it, I remembered running into Tomoyo and her friends on our way to Eriol’s house earlier in the semester.
Man, I felt like an idiot.
“Welcome home, Sakura-san! Happy birthday!”
I let my father hug me when I walked in through the door. “Thanks,” I said, trying to convey as much sincerity as I could.
“Ayame-san called. She’s reminding you about your dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s concert tonight at eight. She also says don’t be late.”
I snorted. “Tell that to Toya-nii, not me. He’s driving.”
Tou-san followed me into the kitchen. “What do you want for dinner? I’ll make whatever you’d like tonight to celebrate.”
I thought about it. “Pasta sounds good,” I said wistfully. Ayame had me on a low-carb diet for the winter and I hadn’t eaten pasta in months.
My dad laughed. “Pasta, it is. We’ll eat at six when Toya comes back.”
Some thing about the time reminded me of what else I had to do. “I’m sorry, Tou-san, but can we eat at five? I have to go over to a classmate’s house to work on a project for school.”
The surprise on his face was quickly replaced with excitement. “Of course, sweetheart.”
I set out at right after dinner for Tomoyo’s. Pulling out the piece of paper with the directions written on it, I started walking three meters down the street when I realized Tomoyo lived much closer to me than I thought.
I walked down the street, turned left, and stared at the sprawling mansion before me.
“Damn rich kids,” I muttered under my breath before laughing at myself. Who was I to talk? I live in the same neighborhood.
I rang the doorbell with my free hand. Tou-san had given me a box of cookies he baked for my birthday to bring over and share with the others.
The gate buzzed open and I strolled up the drive. A maid opened the door and greeted me with a smile. “Tomoyo-san is upstairs, second door on your right. You can’t miss it.”
I thanked her and slipped off my shoes. The maid was right; there was no way I could have missed the door with Tomoyo’s name on it. I barely knocked on the door when it opened before me and my friends yelled, “Surprise!”
I stood there, open-mouthed, at the sudden turn of events. What happened to working on our final Morality project?
Tomoyo’s bedroom was decorated for a party. A white cake lay on a table with the words "Happy Birthday Sakura!" in purple and pink icing. On another table sat a small pile of neatly wrapped gifts.
"Oh my God," were the only words that left my mouth.
Meiling grinned pulled me inside the room. "Go on, Sakura," she said, handing me a knife, "Cut the cake."
Li took the box of cookies from me. Gingerly, I sliced the soft cake into ten pieces. Eriol handed me one plate at a time to be filled with the delicious treat.
We played so many games that I could hardly remember which ones we played. But what would be a party without karaoke?
Meiling dared Li to be the first one to sing. He blatantly refused but gave in when I told him that he was a chicken and all his manly courage had flown out the window. He chose Green Day's When I Come Around. I had to admit, he was pretty good.
For a joke, Eriol sang I Feel Like A Woman. We were laughing so hard at his over-dramatization of a prissy stuck up rich lady.
Then, my cell phone rang. I sent Tomoyo and Meiling an apologetic look as I excused myself for a moment.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Kinomoto Sakura! Where in the hell are you?" Ayame screeched on the other end.
"Ayame! Stop yelling! I'm over at a friend's house and she threw me a birthday party.” I emphasized the last three words.
"How long is this supposed to last?" My cousin sighed.
"I dunno. Maybe until ten..." I answered softly.
"Ten? We can't wait until ten! You have to practice!" She started screeching again.
"Then switch," I said bluntly. Ayame sighed deeply and agreed to the switch for only fifteen minutes.
“Bring these people with you if you must but you have to practice. There’s no point in me lip-singing when you’re the one performing tomorrow,” she reminded me again.
“I know, I know. I’ll be there soon.”
I hung up on my cousin and rejoined my friends. Li gave me a suspicious look, which I ignored. He couldn’t have overheard me and even if he had, he wouldn’t be able to figure it out.
"That was my boss. She needs my help backstage for tomorrow's concert," I lied.
"You're helping out with tomorrow's concert?" Meiling asked, surprised.
“You have a job? What do you do?” Li asked, still suspicious.
"Yeah, I’m Tsukishiro Ayame’s personal assistant. They’re having some trouble backstage and Ayame needs me to help out.” I took a deep breath. “Do you… want to come with me? I’m sure they won’t care since you guys have VIP passes for tomorrow.”
"Sure!" Tomoyo yelled in excitement. She called for a maid to box and refrigerate the leftover cake while we gathered our belongings and prepared to leave.
The five of us headed over to Tomoeda Gardens. Tomoyo and Meiling kept whispering to each other about how cool every thing was. Even Li and Eriol looked a little starstruck but they had the dignity to not say anything. I told them to go sit in the stands while I went backstage to switch places with my cousin... and perform onstage in front of my first audience from home.