Orikami

A hobby is taken to a whole new level when a young teenager discovers something that will change his life overnight. Ryuka, a young man keeping his childhood alive with his interest in origami, wishes upon burning candles on his 16th birthday. What presents itself thereafter changes a simple love of tradition into a magical ability.

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1. Make a Wish

Fixing the second wing, Ryuka finished folding his golden crane.

 

"Whew," Ryuka sighed with relief, "One thousand."

 

Not only has his last crane been completed, today was Ryuka's birthday. He spun around in his swivel chair, holding the golden crane above his head. His smile stretched wider as he admired the symmetrical wings and the sharp tail. He shined the reflection of the scarlet sunset through his bedroom window off the golden foil onto his ceiling, giggling at the orange ray.

 

"Time to make a wish!" he cheered.

 

Ryuka spun once more in his chair as he inhaled the breeze coming through his window. He closed his eyes, hugging the golden crane gently upon the left side of his chest.

 

"I—" Ryuka began.

"Time for dinner, honey," a voice interrupted Ryuka.

 

Ryuka stammered, dropping his crane in embarrassment.

He fluttered his eyes and saw his mother leaning through his bedroom entrance.

 

"Whoops," his mother said, "did I startle you?"

Hoping his mother didn't see him hugging his golden crane, he forced a steady response.

"A little. What's for dinner?" he said as he bent down to pick up the crane.

 

"It is your birthday," Ryuka's mother answered, shuffling toward him. "It's spaghetti."

"Ooh!" Ryuka exclaimed with a tight smile. "I'll be right there!"

"All right," his mother said. She leaned forward and kissed his forehead.

"See you downstairs."

 

Ryuka watched his mother exit his bedroom and walk down the hallway. He let out a sigh, relieved that his mother didn't see him caressing a piece of foiled paper, like some sort of newborn or pet. He twirled the crane by its tail for a few minutes before hopping off his chair. He laid the crane gently on his desk and walked out of his bedroom for dinner.

 

 

***

 

 

"I suppose birthdays are the only time you disregard manners," Ryuka's mother scolded him.

Ryuka giggled. "Sorry."

"You don't wanna choke," Ryuka heard his father say across the table, slurping up the spaghetti just as messily has him.

"I can't wait for my birthday," Ryuka's younger sister cried out. "I want to make sure sloppy joes go everywhere!"

Ryuka's mother leered at him. "That's your role model," she said to Ryuka's sister, still keeping her eyes fixed on his loud chewing.

 

Ryuka wiped his mouth with his hankerchief from the thick tomato sauce that smothered the spaghetti towering on his plate.

As he finished twirling the last bunch of spaghetti, having eaten two servings already, he let out a belch, excusing himself.

 

"Good," his mother reacting, "now you have room for dessert!"

Ryuka's mother and father stood up and walked to the refrigerator. His mother took out a box as his father reached for small plates, candles and forks. Ryuka heard his younger sister cheer as their mother flipped open the top of the box, revealing a dobash cake with a cherry dalloped in the centre. He could feel his smile growing larger as he watched each candle being placed around the cake. His father began lighting the candles, Ryuka's younger sister hopping on her chair.

 

"Be careful, Mirei," their mother called out. "Sit back down, and we'll start singing Happy Birthday."

 

Not a moment after his sister sat back down, the family began singing the birthday song to him. He played along with the song, waving his index fingers like a maestro conducting an orchestra.

 

"Make a wish," he heard his mother say after they finished the song.

 

Ryuka squeezed his eyes shut, scrunching his nose as he concentrated. Ryuka then opened his eyes and blew out his candles—all sixteen candles extinguished.

 

"Oh," Ryuka heard his mother say, "the golden candle. One more time, honey."

 

Ryuka blinked at the dancing flame on the tip of the golden candle. He had one last amount of breath to blow the good-luck candle.

 

The flame resisted. Ryuka continued blowing sharp exhales, but the flame stood. Not even the wax showed any sign of melting.

 

"That's strange," Ryuka's father said. "Must've mixed that one with the extinguishable ones."

 

Ryuka harrumphed. "I guess my wish won't come true."

He sighed as he dampened his index finger and thumb with his tongue to squeeze the wick. As he pinched the flame, he didn't feel it go out immediately.

 

"Ow!" Ryuka hissed, recoiling from the candle. The sizzle from the flame rang in his ears.

He heard his mother gasp, "Be careful, Son!"

 

The flame didn't die out—instead, Ryuka noticed the flame diminishing in size rapidly, as if being engulfed into the candle. He glared at the golden candle. It showed no sign of burning wick or melted wax—it stayed perfect.

 

"All right, let's have some cake!" Ryuka's father chimed.

 

Ryuka and his mother began picking out the candles, both licking the frosting off each as they placed them aside. Ryuka then pulled the golden candle up. He snuck the candle into his jeans pocket, ignoring the frosting that stuck to the bottom.

 

"I want two pieces, Mum!" Mirei begged.

 

 

***

 

 

After stacking the clean dishes into the dishrack, Ryuka crept back into his room. He was drowsy from the three slices of birthday cake, so he slumped right onto his bed.

 

"Happy Birthday, Ryuka," he said to himself. Just before dozing off, he remembered the golden candle he had stuffed in his pocket. He wriggled upright, sitting atop his bed. He dug out the candle, wiping off the crusted frosting on his shirt.

 

He stared at the candle.

"Weird," Ryuka whispered to himself, "you were burning long enough to melt your wax."

He examined the candle further. It was flimsy as any usual candle, so it wasn't a mishap with the other birthday candles his father placed on the cake.

 

"The wick is still clear."

 

Ryuka squinted his eyes, trying to understand what kind of a candle doesn't melt when alight, and when being extinguished there is no trace of the burnt wick.

 

"Oh, well," Ryuka exasperated. He was too tired to comprehend anything. If it were a phenomenon, he certainly had no interest figuring it out tonight.

 

He rose from his bed and tossed the candle onto his desk.

 

"Hey," Ryuka exclaimed, "where's my crane?"

Ryuka crawled on his hands and knees to search for the golden crane. It must have been blown off his desk from the wind coming through his window.

He couldn't find it.

 

Ryuka groaned.

"Where could it be? No one was up here since I came back down."

 

Ryuka sighed loudly. As he stood up to his feet, a light glimmer of orange reflected onto his eye.

He looked to see his golden paper crane resting on his windowsill.

 

Ryuka stood there, frozen. He held his breath, gazing at the paper crane. He could feel the wind as it whistled through the screen of his window—but the crane wasn't blowing away.

 

He regained his composure after a few minutes, finally reaching out to grab the golden crane from the windowsill.

"Ow," Ryuka groaned, dropping the crane, letting it land on his desk near the candle. His index finger and thumb were slightly burnt from the candle he had tried to extinguish during dinnertime.

Ryuka sighed.

"Never mind," he let out with a grunt, "I'm tired."

 

Ryuka took his time getting ready for bed, the warm shower washing away the strange occurrence with the candle and the crane. Shutting his door and clicking off his light, he hopped into bed, kicking his sheets from under him. He snugged himself deep into the layers of his bedsheets and let out a long sigh.

 

"Happy Birthday, origami master."

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