It’s my birthday today.
I’ll be working.
But it’s the same as it was last year. And the year before that.
Before it was school, and this year it’s work. This is what being an adult is…right?
I should be happy. Last year, I beat all of my classmates in a competition.
It was me who got to become the one known as “Zero”.
I’m proud of myself. But somehow, I’m sad, too.
Why am I sad…?
I wish I could see my family this year. Mother, father…brother.
How long has it been since I’ve seen them last?
I can’t remember.
Because time is always a blur.
I work from the time I wake up, ‘til the time I go to sleep. I work with my team members.
I say it’s work, but it’s life, now. For me, anyway.
It’s…all I know.
Today, I’ll go and get something good to eat. The woman who runs the cafeteria likes me a lot, so she said she’ll give me something special to eat for my birthday.
And the others…I wonder if my new teammates will remember my birthday.
I’d be surprised, but I’d be happy if they did.
Sitting on my bed like this, I laugh a little to myself.
They’re too busy for that, probably. I should just focus on my work.
Maybe then, they’ll begin to respect me.
I joined team Phantom Alpha earlier this month. I was really nervous, but so far, everyone has been pretty nice. Especially the leader, Nine, and Six, too.
I’m working hard to do my best. But I can’t help but feel as if I’m missing something.
What is it…? I know there’s a lot of things I lack, but it feels like this is the most important one.
Maybe someday, I’ll figure it out.
Knowing I should get up, even if i don’t want to, I stand. I walk across my tiny room to my closet, where a plethora of white greets me.
White…is a purifying, refreshing color.
It helps me brighten up a bit and makes me think of good things, so I like it.
I grab a shirt out of the closet and turn to the mirror. I don’t really see what’s in front of me.
Today, I will go on a mission, just like I did yesterday. There’s nothing different, except for the fact today’s my birthday.
Today I am twenty.
Am I an adult yet? I find myself wondering that as I face the “me” reflected back in the mirror. I often wonder this.
When will I feel like an adult? When will I be one?
If I feel like one…that must be when I’ve really, finally grown into one.
At least, I hope so.
I don’t have time to wonder anymore about these things, so I change my clothes and leave my room.
Out in the bright white hallway, my shoe hits something. I look down and see a black box at my feet.
Bending down, I pick it up. I catch the words “For Zero” on the white note attached to it before I even get close.
Curiosity and a desperate hope spring to life within me, and I hurriedly open the box. It’s a pair of black gloves with blue neon lights, though they’re dim right now.
I feel my mouth fall open in wonder as I examine them, breathing out. They aren’t just any old gloves, but special ones for fighting with hand protection.
I look carefully at the hard, protective surface on the knuckles, wondering what material it’s made out of, before examining the dimmed lights. I wonder what they do? Or maybe they’re just for decoration.
I then notice the box I’d dropped, and a small paper next to it.
“From the team. Happy birthday.”
That’s all it says. And yet…
I feel a familiar warmth come to my eyes as a tear flows over onto my cheek. I crouch down to pick up the paper, as I hold the gloves tightly, preciously, to my chest.
A few heavy words fill my chest with a strange fullness, and grateful warmth.