September 2022 Short

No One Came to My Daughter’s Birthday Party

Author: Tarakoku Chibiruke

It was a few days before my daughter’s tenth birthday.

My wife and I couldn’t believe our ears when she suddenly said, “I want to have a birthday party”.

She had always been shy and had few friends, spent most of her time at home reading books, and rarely went out to play.

I used to read a lot when I was a child, but never to this extent.

She doesn’t seem to dislike going to school, and leaves the house at a fixed time every morning.

I was casually prepared to believe that she would eventually make one or two friends, but I was still worried about her.

Whenever it was convenient, I would leave work early to spend time with my family and ask her about school and friends. All I got in return were vague assurances that they were “okay” or “fine”.

As a parent, I’m worried.

Under such circumstances, I was happy when my daughter said she wanted to have a birthday party. There was no reason to object, so my wife and I decided to cooperate fully.

My wife went to a 100 yen store to buy goods to decorate the room with our daughter. I also took the day off to help with the preparations. Invitations are also handmade for each person.

We live in an apartment building, so if many friends came, we would not be able to accommodate them.

So I told her to invite only her really close friends.

My daughter simply replied, “Okay” and that was it.

On the day.

I was worried.

I couldn’t help but be worried that maybe no one would show up for the birthday party, but my fears were unfounded, and five of her classmates came over.

Every time I see a girl visiting the house one after another, I mentally make a guts pose.

Inviting them into the living room, each of the girls takes a seat and congratulates my daughter who is sitting at the birthday table. My daughter smiled a little happily as she received the gift they had brought.

She doesn’t usually show much emotion, so I know she’s really happy.

The birthday party went off without a hitch with everyone singing a popular song together. The lyric card was also prepared by my wife in advance.

After the birthday party, the classmates politely thanked us and left.

My daughter left the house to see them off.

Those of us who are left behind clean up with a sense of relief.

“I didn’t think anyone would come.”

My wife murmured, so I hugged her shoulders and told her that there was no way that was true.

I couldn’t tell her I thought the same thing, no matter what.

Then…… months passed.

My daughter is now in middle school.

She still spent her free time at home reading books, going to the library to borrow books, and spending her allowance on comic books and novels.

She doesn’t show much interest in video games or TV, and doesn’t watch many video sites on the Internet.

She has completely turned into a bookworm.

The inexplicable thing is… never once since then has she said she wanted to have a birthday party since then.

She has not invited a friend to the house.

Still, she goes to school every day and her grades aren’t bad.

She doesn’t talk about things at school, but she doesn’t seem to have problems with bullying and such. When she eats with her family, she seems to enjoy it and I don’t think she has any problems.

After she entered middle school, she wanted a PC, so I discussed it with my wife and decided to buy one.

I have warned her not to look at strange sites, but……  I wonder if it is really a good idea..

My daughter is about that age, and she might want to look at a site like that.

“If you pry too much, she might not like it.”

My wife says so, so I can’t check the PC.

But I worry about what I worry about.

There are all kinds of people on the Internet, so it would be nice if she didn’t meet any strange people….

On that day, I had to work late and take the last train home..

When I was younger, I didn’t mind staying overnight, but once I started a family, it was not so easy. No matter how busy I am, I always go home unless there is an unavoidable circumstance.

Because I don’t want to worry my wife and daughter.

“Oh, excuse me.”

While walking through the crowds in front of the station, I bumped into a middle-aged woman on the shoulder. When she lightly nodded and tried to leave, I realized that I recognized her face.

It was the woman who had been my daughter’s homeroom teacher when she was in elementary school.

“It’s been a while, you have taken care of my daughter.”

“Um… could you be…”

Apparently, she remembered me too, and I bowed my head slightly.

She asks, “Are you ○○-san’s father?” and I answer, “Yes”.

I was glad that she remembered me.

“○○-san, how is she?”

“Yes… well. she’s still reading books all the time.”

“Is that so… um…….

There’s something I really have to apologize for…”

The teacher suddenly looks serious.

“You have to apologize?”

“Yes… ○○-san, you held a birthday party, didn’t you?”

“Yes, we did.”

I have a bad feeling about this.

I can’t help but be anxious about what she will say next.

“I was the one who suggested holding that birthday party.”

“…… Huh?”

“Because she said her father was worried about whether she has any friends.

she wanted to reassure you.

So…”

“Is that so…”

I thought to myself, “Oh no”.

Was it because I was worried and she overheard this and that so much that I made my daughter worried?

But…… is that something to apologize for?

Her friends came to the birthday party properly, and I’m sure that the birthday party was not a bad memory for my daughter.

And yet…… why…….

“But… why do you need to apologize?

Her friends came to visit all right.”

“No… I asked everyone to go.”

“…… Huh?”

“I told them to attend ○○-chan’s birthday.

I picked children from the class who were likely to do me a favor.”

“No way…”

My mind went blank at her words.

She went on to say:

“After that, ○○-chan thanked me.

She…… was crying as she said thank you.

At first I thought she was crying because she was happy, but…”

I didn’t want to hear anything after that.

“They didn’t make friends with me.

They were from a different world than I was.

After the birthday party, they left my world.

That’s what she said…”

I don’t remember what she said after that.

A few days later.

I wasn’t sure if I should tell my wife about it.

After some hesitation, I decided to tell her properly.

“It was…”

She tried her best to remain calm, but eventually her shoulders shook and she cried.

I cried along with her as I recalled that day.

The invitations I made with my daughter.

The decorations we worked hard on to create a cheerful atmosphere.

The homemade dishes and personalized cake.

Memories that were special from beginning to end quickly fade and turn into sadness.

It’s harsh, it’s painful, it’s sad.

No one came to my daughter’s birthday party.

At least, no one can be called a friend.

“I’m home—”

My daughter came into the living room and we hastily wiped our eyes.

My wife tries to suppress her sobs and act as usual.

“What’s the matter? Did something happen?”

Perhaps sensing an unusual atmosphere, our daughter tilted her head and asked worriedly.

I just said it was nothing, that we were okay, and turned on the TV to distract her.

“I see…”

My daughter looked like she wanted to say something, but sat down on the sofa and started fiddling with her phone.

Glancing sideways at her as she stared at the screen with an unusually serious expression, I read the newspaper and tried to distract myself.

My wife escapes into the kitchen and silently prepares dinner.

“Hey… Dad.”

Suddenly, my daughter called out.

“What?”

“I want to have a birthday party.”

“…… Huh?”

“Didn’t you hear me?”

She says, staring at me.

“I want to have a birthday party.”

That day, neither my wife nor I were in the mood.

We prepared for the party with a different kind of trepidation than we had felt last time.

Decorations were minimal.

But, we put a lot of effort into the cooking.

My daughter has meticulously specified the menu and ingredients.

I have no idea what kind of people will come.

My daughter invited an unknown group to her birthday party.

Shinigami-sensei.

Pseudo Baseball Meister.

Ai Mai.

Moonstar Cat.

Runaway special grade 999.

Yoko Sato.

There is only one person with a decent name.

What the hell are these people!?

When I ask my daughter about the personalities of the invited guests, she gives me detailed information, but when I ask their age and gender, she only gives vague answers.

Some people keep everything a secret.

I don’t understand.

At first I thought it was some kind of joke, but my daughter was serious.

It seems that she really wants to invite these people to the house.

My wife and I were puzzled, but we couldn’t ignore our daughter’s feelings, so we decided to follow her instructions and prepare.

She said she had already sent the invitations.

What will happen to our house?

Worried, worried, worried…

Ping Pong.

The doorbell rings.

It had finally come.

“Oh… dear…”

My wife looks at me anxiously.

I head to the front door.

“Yes…”

When I opened the door, there was a tall man in a suit.

His eyes are sunken and lifeless.

He wears black-rimmed glasses.

His tie is patterned after an anime character.

What is this guy….

“Um… Who are you?”

“Hmm… I’m Sensei…”

“Eh?”

“Shinigami-Sensei!”

Apparently, this guy is Shinigami-Sensei.

Are you going to bring this guy into our home!?

“Ah, you came! Please come in!”

My daughter jumps out from the back and invites Shinigami-Sensei into the house.

“Oh… is that you ‘Tanpopo’-san?”

“Yes! Right! I’ve been waiting for you!

Oh, but first of all, it’s nice to meet you.

I’m sorry.”

“No… that…… is it really okay to go up?”

Shinigami-Sensei looks at me hesitantly.

“Don’t hold back,” my daughter replied cheerfully.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my daughter look so happy.

“Hmm… Excuse me…”

Bowing his head, Shinigami-sensei took off his shoes, pulled them to the side, and walked down the corridor holding his bag.

He’s always hunched over.

Ping Pong.

The next visitor.

When I opened the door, there was a young woman in a black dress with a black parasol.

She wears purple lipstick and smiles brightly.

Her eyes are blue as if she has colored contacts.

“Um… you are?”

“Aimai.”

“Huh?”

“I am Ai Mai.

Are you a Tanpopo-sama?”

“I… No…… I’m her father.”

“Oh, Tanpopo-sama’s father?”

Pardon my rudeness.

My name is “Ai Mai.”

Please call me Mai-chan.”

She folds her parasol and pinches the edge of her skirt to strike a cutesy pose.

What is… this person.

No really, what is she?

Visitors come one after another, leaving my wife and I unable to hide our dismay.

“Cheers! I am Moonstar Cat!”

A blonde-haired, very chubby looking man.

He’s wearing a tank top even though it’s chilly.

Surprisingly handsome.

“Nice to meet you.

Best regards.

My name is Pseudo Baseball Meister.”

A good-looking elderly woman in a kimono.

The gap with the name is amazing.

“Hello… I am Runaway Special Grade….

Um, you won’t call the police or anything, will you?”

Said the portly old man.

Jeans and a T-shirt are too rough to wear.

Unlimited stubble growth.

He wears a white towel around his head.

“Hello, I’m Yoko Sato!”

The last one was an elementary school girl.

She was wearing the uniform of a famous private school.

Apparently, she was the only one with a real name.

A mysterious group of people gathered in a flash.

What exactly are they?

I don’t understand it at all.

“Kanpai~!”

When my daughter, who was sitting at the birthday table, took the lead, everyone made a toast with the cups filled with juice.

Then, as they were enjoying the food, they began to talk happily.

“That new work by Sensei was very good.”

“Really? Yours was good, too.”

” I was also really impressed with that one.”

“As was I!”

The group, which varies in age and gender, is very excited.

It’s a strange feeling to think that my daughter is at the center of it.

“Oh, parents, please come join us!”

An old man called Runaway Special Grade beckoned us.

My wife and I looked at each other as we sat side by side on the edge.

“Well, even so, your daughter is amazing!”

A young man named Moonstar Cat speaks to me in a friendly manner.

“Huh? What was that?”

“That? Don’t you know?

Your daughter writes and posts novels.

On a site called ‘Let’s Become a Novelist.'”

“…… Huh?”

From what they’re saying, it seems that my daughter writes novels and diligently posts her work on an online site.

She seems to be fairly popular, but what is it really like?

“What kind of work does she write?”

“Fufufu… the works she spins are truly works of art.

All one-of-a-kind masterpieces.”

Aimai-san says with a wicked grin.

“Um… One-of-a-kind?”

“It means that no one can imitate them.

Everyone has a great deal of admiration for them.”

Pseudo Baseball Meister says with a smile.

“Me! I love Tanpopo’s work!”

Yoko Sato is in high spirits.

Could you please stop jumping in your chair?

“…………”

Shinigami-Sensei is staring at me.

“Uh, what?”

“No…that…Excuse me.

I just thought that Tanpopo-san’s father is very ordinary.”

“No, it’s really rude.”

“I’m sorry… but…she’s a genius.

I was sure her father is also… an extraordinary person.”

Hmmm… my daughter is too highly regarded.

What kind of novel are you writing?

“Father-sama, have you ever read Tanpopo-sama’s work?”

“No, not even once.”

“”””Eeeeehhh!?”””””

Everyone raised their voices in unison.

“You’d better read it soon! You’re losing out in life!”

Moonstar Cat says.

“Hmm… when I have time…

So, what kind of novel are you writing?”

When I asked my daughter…

“Un… secret…”

I hung my head.

Her face was red from embarrassment.

“I see… but I can just search for it on that site.

I know your pen name, and…”

“If you want to read it, you can read it.

But don’t put in any points.”

“Point?”

“Read the terms and conditions for details.”

Apparently, it’s a pretty important issue, and my daughter appeals with a serious face.

Let’s try not to include points.

“Un… Mom and Dad.

I wanted to have a birthday party…

It was to reassure you both.”

“”Eh?””

I look at my wife next to me.

“What do you mean?”

“You see…”

She starts talking about that birthday party.

When she went to see off her classmates that day, she told them that she was writing a story in her notebook.

She wanted them to read the story she wrote.

When she tells them so, her classmates answer awkwardly.

“What’s that, how unpleasant.”

With that said, they went home quickly and didn’t talk to her at school.

After reading a book by herself for a long time, she wanted to create her own work, so she wrote an original story… After that day, she no longer wanted anyone to read her work.

However…… years passed, and while browsing the Internet on her smartphone, she came across a website.

That was the site called “Let’s Become a Novelist”.

On that site, anyone is free to post novels.

My daughter started posting her work because she thought that strangers she had never met might read her work.

At first, no one read it, but as they interacted with each other, they began to get feedback and made friends.

That’s—

“The people I invited today were the people I interact with on the site.

I couldn’t make friends for a long time and I was alone at school,

I made a lot of friends who read my work.

So…… don’t worry anymore, I’m okay.

I wanted to tell my mom and dad.”

“No way…”

“Un, I heard what you said the other day.”

She overheard the conversation when I told my wife the story I had heard from her homeroom teacher.

That’s why I suddenly want to have a birthday party…

“Thank you for sticking with my selfishness today.

I love you two who care about me.

Thank you for your continued support.”

She stood up and bowed her head slightly.

The feelings welling up in my chest loosen my tear glands.

“Yes! We haven’t sung the celebration song yet!”

Moonstar Cat takes the lead and everyone starts singing a birthday celebration song.

My wife brought the cake with tears in her eyes.

“””””Happy Birthday to You♪”””””

Lively singing and handclaps that do not match up.

A lit candle on top of the cake.

When I turn off the lights in the room, my daughter’s face comes out vaguely.

Her expression was very bright, and she looked happy…

I cover my mouth and shed tears.

As she blew out the candles, the room was plunged into darkness.

“Congratulations.”

Someone said.

“Congrats.”

Someone else.

Words of “congratulations” are conveyed one after another.

Each one of them was kind and thoughtful.

Turn on the lights in the room.

She wiped her eyes with her hands.

Tears that she couldn’t wipe away ran down her chin and fell down the table.

“Thank you.”

My daughter says while sobbing.

She turned 14 today.

Thank you for reading.

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