30. Birthday 3
“R, right! There’s something I want to give you!”
Overwhelmed by my embarrassment, I thought that I had to persevere no matter what. I gently pried myself away from him and took out his birthday present from the bag on the table.
When I suggest to Philip that he sit on the couch, he moved right away. I sat beside him, took a deep breath, and presented the paper bag to him.
“This is your birthday present! Although it isn’t a big deal, won’t you please accept it?”
“…Is there anyone else who’s having a birthday today?”
When I said that and laughed, Philip blankly received it. “Thank you.” He spoke with a hint of confusion. He then asked me if he could open it. To be honest, I would have preferred he open it at home because it was embarrassing. In the end, I softly nodded.
He gently and politely opened the bag. He acted as if he were dealing with a treasure. Then, he took out the box containing the necklace. The moment he opened the box, his eyes went wide in surprise.
Eventually, his line of sight turned towards my neck. To tell the truth, I was wearing the same necklace that day.
“It’s the same necklace as you’re wearing…”
“Yes, it is. W-well, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to wear it.” I sputtered.
From Philip’s bright golden eyes, large, pear-like, tears quietly spilled. It took me a long time to understand that he was crying.
“…Forgive me, I’m truly happy.”
I never thought he’d be so happy that he’d cried. I couldn’t hide my bafflement.
…How much does this person love me?
Towards his expression and words, I started wanting to cry as well. I bit my lips to endure my blurring vision.
“I will wear this for the rest of my life. Thank you very much.”
My chest constricted at Philip’s overjoyed smile. It made him look like a child.
At the same time, love and delight permeated into the depths of my body. I became painfully aware that I loved him.
Philip wiped his tears, laughed shyly, and looked into the paper bag again.
“…Is there something else inside?”
“Y, yes, but I’m not confident…”
The contents of the other pouch he took out were none other than my homemade cookies. After going shopping with Rex, I consulted with Jamie and she said giving him something handmade would be sweet.
As I had already given him a lot of embroideries, I decided to give him handmade sweets. Afterwards, I practiced with my chef many times. I also used a cute mold. Eventually, I managed to make cookies that looked and tasted normal.
“Viola made this?”
“Yes, I did.”
He narrowed his eyes. “I’m so happy.” Then, he picked a flower-shaped cookie and put it in his mouth. I made sure to taste-test the cookies many times, but I still felt nervous.
“…Very good. I’m surprised.”
“Really? I’m glad to hear that.”
I was relieved to hear that it was delicious. At the same time, a question suddenly came up.
I had never given him homemade sweets or told him that I wasn’t good at making them.
How did he know I had improved?
He politely put the pouch with the rest of the cookies inside the paper bag, before then immediately putting on the necklace. It looked good on him—or more like, it was as if the necklace had been especially made for Philip.
“Thank you very much. This is the happiest birthday of my life.”
“I’m glad you’re happy.”
He turned away from me while muttering. “…Happiness is scary.”
“Thinking that this will someday come to an end scares me.”
…What did he mean by that? Will someday come to an end? As soon as I tried to ask, there was a knocking sound.
“Philip, Rex has requested your immediate return.”
After replying, he reached out to me. “Let’s head back.”
I returned to the venue with him. All the while, some doubts still remained.
“Huh? Philip, I don’t recall you wearing that necklace before? Was it a birthday present from Viola? Isn’t Viola wearing the same necklace?”
I was struck by the question about our matching necklaces.
I was about to die from embarrassment. Before I knew it, the thought that someone else might question it had escaped my mind.
“You managed to overcome adversity! That’s great!”
A few days later, I was taken by my father to attend the evening ball of some acquaintances who could be considered relatives of mine. To be honest, I didn’t want to go, but Jamie had also been invited and I wanted to report to her. In the end, I reluctantly agreed to participate.
The evening ball was quite grand. There were many invited guests. Beside the wall adorned with blooming flowers, I talked with Jamie.
“He told me that the cookies were delicious.”
“That’s great to hear! Even though I recommended it, I was actually worried because you aren’t good at making sweets. Still, Philip will eat everything, no doubt!”
“…How can you say that with such certainty?”
“Umm… don’t be mad at me?”
Jamie’s eyes were pleading. I had a bad feeling. Still, when I nodded, she laughed, “Teehee…” and began to explain.
“Remember back when we were still in school, and Viola used to make pig feed during cooking class?”
Did she need to be so frank?
As I listened, I sipped a glass of juice.
“I gave it to Philip every time.”
The next moment, I almost died from choking on my drink.
Why would Philip do such a thing?! Not only was my cooking not appetizing in the slightest, it was also likely that it could harm the body!
“Well… whenever I happened to meet Philip at certain evening parties, he’d always ask about what you made during cooking class and, ‘did she give it to anyone?’”
“I answered that what you made was unbefitting to be given to anyone. Hence, you always threw it away. Then, he asked if I could give them to him.”
“I thought giving them to Philip was better than being thrown away. Sorry for keeping it a secret from you?”
I was confused.
“When I first gave it to him, I didn’t in the slightest believe he’d eat such a thing.”
“But he did. He ate all of the dark brown cookies right before my very eyes. Philip, he was in tears!”
“Thus, I continued handing them over to him until graduation.”
Then, Jamie continued. “Y’know what, Viola? You always said that you were hated by Philip. I always wanted you guys to talk it over and clear up the misunderstanding… but Philip was against the idea. I was truly confused. I kept wondering if there’s something I could do, and before we know it, we graduated.”
“…I understand, thank you, Jamie.”
If Jamie had told such a story to the past me, there was no way I’d have believed her.
As of the present, I felt happy. I didn’t blame her in the slightest for passing my cookies to Philip.
Even so, I never imagined Philip would do such a thing.
He seemed to love me so much, he’d eat a terrible failure just because I was the one who cooked it. I felt truly happy. Although, it was also terribly embarrassing that he knew about my catastrophic cooking skills.
As heat gathered on my face, I held my cheeks with both hands. That was when my name was called. When I turned around, Cyril stood there together with his former classmates.
***T/N: oh, OH NO, HE CRIES!!! SOMEBODY HELP!!!! HE IS CRYING!!!!!
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