A child’s birthday is a joyous celebration of beating the odds. An adult’s birthday is a stark look at how much to society they contribute, how much they consume.
He realized this when he was sixteen. His sister had just turned five. The happiness which suffused his family was in stark contrast to how they treated him five days before, when it was his birthday. Time to do what his family always wanted him to do. Take on the mantle, get married to the girl they had chosen, all of those things.
He hated it. More than he hated his sister. It wasn’t fair, she would soon enough be thrown into this cycle as well. She ought to enjoy birthdays while they still meant happiness.
“There you are!” The woman, his fiancée, grabbed his arm. He tried not to physically recoil.
His duty. His duty. He forced the most genuine smile on his face. It fooled everyone but himself.