Short Stories
Nine’s Birthday – To the Edge of the Sky

Written by Ajané J.K. Celestin. Based off the upcoming game To the Edge of the Sky.

Today is my birthday.

But it’s other people’s birthday, somewhere else. And new children will be born and then it will become their birthday, too.

Weddings will happen today, and many other good things.

And today in the world, many sad things will happen as well.

But it’s just another day to most people.

That’s why I’m sitting alone here on my bed, thinking like this. All the others have gone out to work.

But they don’t need me right now.

I stare out my large window. The sky looks really beautiful today. I wonder if it’s a present for me, or if I’m just being arrogant.

Probably, the sky doesn’t even know we’re here at all.

I sigh, thinking that I don’t want to be in here anymore. It’s too cramped, it’s like the walls are closing in. It’s making this aching in my chest worse.  

I want to be free. I want to go outside.

I begin to get up and get dressed to do that. I want to breathe the fresh cool air of my birth month.

I want to see those oranges and reds spread out before me on earth’s canvas, and for just a little while, pretend that it’s a gift to me.

But then I hear a strange sound outside my door.

A cute sound that makes my heavy heart leap with joy.

Meow~

That’s all it takes to make me rush to open the door.

A cat with hair like silver is standing there. It looks up at me with large, knowing eyes. The color is beautiful, like a blue or a green that can’t decide what it wants to be.

“Do you know that it’s my birthday? Have you come to visit me?”

I don’t recognize the cat, but that’s my first thought.

The cat responds to me by running down the bright white hallway, so quickly and gracefully that I almost feel as if it were mocking me.

Either way, I can’t just let it go. So I start scrambling to run after it, my legs already complaining from the sudden effort.

But even before my duty to prevent a random animal from making mischief in the hall is my desire to catch it…

And pet it.

The cat runs straight down the hall, as if it knew exactly where it was going. I think it’s going to be stopped by the large doors to the elevator at the end of the hall, but Three enters from it just then.

Letting the cat out at the same time.

“Hey!” he yells as I nearly collide with him. I make it past him though, single-mindedly focused on my furry target.

The doors close with me and the cat inside, and I smile as it watches me carefully.

“I won’t hurt you. I just want to pet you.”

I begin to bend down, but the elevator is too fast. It stops moving and the doors open. The cat dashes out before I have time to register what happened. And so the chase continues down the next hallway.

I’m nowhere near catching up and I’m becoming hopeless when the cat turns a corner and heads out some open doors. To the outside.

I’m tired already, but I know that I’ve got him now. He’s entered the garden on this floor, and there’s nowhere to go from there.

When I run outside, I find the cat quietly sitting in the middle of the garden, watching the sky as any human would be. I nearly skid to a halt, surprised that it’s just sitting still like this.

I approach it slowly.

“Finally! I’m going to pet you now, Mr. or Miss Cat.”

It pays no mind to me as I kneel down and gingerly reach out to stroke it’s head. I’m so relieved when my hands touch its soft fur, and the cat stays perfectly still.

“What are you thinking about, kitty?”

I follow the cat’s gaze and realize how beautiful the garden looks, bathed in the sunset. A gentle autumn breeze passes through my sweaty clothes, and I feel the tension leave my muscles.

“This was where I wanted to come anyway. Did you lead me here on purpose?”

I don’t get any response from the cat, but I feel like the answer lies before me: in the sky, in the breeze, in the greenery of the garden itself.

Even if things are tough, even if sometimes life is lonely…I’m glad that I was able to see this.

Gratefulness washes over me, and…I’m happy. I’m happy that it’s my birthday. Because it means I’ve survived another year. Because it means that I could see this view on a meaningful day.

…Sometimes we just need something or someone to remind us of that.

“Thank you, for giving me this gift on my birthday,” I say to no one and everyone, to nothing and everything.

From now on, I should look at the sky more often.