Story Contest 2019 #2 - Highly Commended Stories »

Highly Commended Story - Happy Birthday

“Happy Birthday” by Tran Duc Manh, Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Secondary School, Singapore, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2019.

Tran Duc Manh is a 14 years old from Kuo Chan Presbyterian Secondary School. His favourite pastime is reading and he enjoys reading adventure, comedy and horror books. He also enjoys reading manga and watching Japanese animes. Tran loves the adrenaline rush he gets out of an interesting story. Besides reading, he enjoys writing. The books that he reads have a huge influence on the themes he address in his own writing. He hopes his stories will be able to immerse readers into the world he creates. He wants to touch his reader's heart and make them remember his story.

Happy Birthday

My name is Zach Anderson.

I was just like any other ordinary twelve-year-old. I loved to play video games, neglected almost everything about my life and I am just like any kid you know. Well, I may be ordinary, my family was not. I had no mother, I looked nothing like my father and I had completely no knowledge of my past! Whenever I asked my father about my past, he would either say that he had forgotten or would make an excuse to escape from the conversation. But sometimes, he would make up some random fairytale-like story about my past; like my mother was needed on an intergalactic mission or that I was a gift given to him by God and the worst part was, I actually believed him! I knew that there was something fishy and I was going to find out the truth.

It was the day before my birthday, and I was doing my homework when my father came to me and told me that he was going out to purchase some birthday decorations. When he left, I responsibly continued to do my homework… for one minute at least. After my father was out of sight, I proceeded to his room to take a peek at my birthday gift. When i entered his room, I saw neatly-arranged books, pictures of me hung on the wall, an inhaler and a bunch of gift wrapping papers on the carpeted door. Having assumed that I found what I had been looking for, I walked towards the location when something caught my attention, a locked safe. Looking at the safe, I knew whatever that was inside was of great importance. I did what any normal person would do; try to be Mr Sherlock Holmes and crack the code. I kept on keying in random numbers on the keypad until i was given one last chance before the only way to open it was to call the help desk. Knowing that I would be in great trouble if I messed up the last try, I thought carefully about what the code would be when a picture of me caught my eye. I keyed it in; my birthday date. Miraculously, the safe opened!

Inside the safe was a jewellery box, important-looking stacks of papers and files. I carefully took out a yellow coloured file and opened it. There were a lot of papers that had a lot of words. I was convinced that it would probably be some random governmental papers. I was about to put the file back when all the papers fell onto the floor, putting the papers back in the file, I came across a green envelope from the ministry of children welfare. The envelope had my name on it. I stood up, opened it and continue reading its content when these words caught my attention, “To adopt and raise Zachery as your son, please sign here…” I could not believe my eyes. I was adopted.

Millions of questions went through my mind. Why didn’t my father tell me about this before? Confused and angry, I put the paper on my father’s desk and took off from my house. Running as fast as I could, I took to the city and ran through the massive crowd. I kept on running until I had no energy left at all. Finding an alleyway, I sat down on the floor and took a moment to think about what had just happened. Since everything had happened so quickly; I went on to think about this matter for half-an-hour before breaking into tears. Lots of things started to make sense then, and lots of new questions also came to me. I felt fury, heartbreak, confusion and betrayal. I could not understand anything that was going on and all i could do was to sob like a baby.

After a few moments, a tall woman towered over me and mumbled something I could not interpret. She then knelt down and asked in a soft, comforting voice, “Are you okay? Is something wrong?” Hearing this, I stopped sobbing and opened my eyes and realised the tall woman was none other than Miss Jenifer Lopez, the owner of the chain of supermarkets known as “Supermart”. She helped me up from the ground and asked me what had happened. Not knowing how to explain my current situation, I only mumbled three words, “I... adopted... confused.” Even with the vague explanation, the multi-millionaire businesswomen understood my whole situation. She told me that she understood what I was going through and explained that she too was adopted and raised by adopted parents. Shocked, I did not know how to respond but just wiped my tears.

“I know that it is tough and you think that you have been lied to your whole life, but your parents love you very much and love you enough to raise you. they show so much care and effort. Without my adopted parents, I would not be who I am today, so go back and be with your parents again before they get worried.”

Having realised my enormous mistake. I thanked her and took off, back to my home. Back to my father.

By the time I reached my house, it was late at night. When I approached my house, I could hear the siren of an ambulance. Hearing this, I broke into a fast sprint until I reached my house. I stopped for a moment when I saw the ambulance outside my house. My heart started pounding like crazy. I immediately ran into the house, ignoring the shouts of police officers telling me to stay away. I ran inside only to be welcomed by a horrifying sight. My father was on a stretcher, unconscious.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I shook him vigorously. I checked for his pulse. It was… not there. I hugged his motionless body as tears flowed down from my eyes like a waterfall. I was hugging him when the paramedics came and asked if I was his son. They went on to explain that he had an asthma attack and his inhaler was in his room, which was on the second storey, but he could not make it. the neighbour arrived about an hour later to complain about the loud television volume but was instead confronted by the sight of my father, lying motionless on the stairs.

I hugged my father tighter and my heart ached at every word I heard. The paramedics soon took a white blanket and covered his body. I knelt down on the floor when I saw a letter next to him. I picked it up and read it, “Son, I know that I may not be your biological parent but I love you from the furthest star in the galaxy and back. I always wanted to tell you the truth about your past but I had always found it hard to talk to you about it. I am sorry for lying to you this whole time and I hope you will forgive me. Happy birthday, son. Love, Da-” When the letter ended I felt my chest tighten as if my heart stopped beating for a second and my cheeks burnt with hot tears. I shouted, “WHY? I love you, dad. Please don’t leave me as an orphan, please…” I looked up from the note and saw the banner hung across the wall. It read, “Happy Birthday!”

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