Tomoko had a roommate, her name was Jane, an American girl who is three years older than Tomoko.
"Hi, you guys. I'm back."
"Hi, Jane. How's everything?"
"Couldn't be better. I asked Tomoko to do some shopping, so she won't be back for another 20 minutes."
"Great! Let's hurry!"
Jane and her friends were busily moving around.
Louis was watching them with a big smile.
"What's going on?"
"Don't you know? It's Tomoko's birthday today. She's sweet 19!"
"We are going to have a surprise party. Oh, I can't wait to see her face when she comes in."
They were all set. Jane turned off the lights and hid by in the furniture like everybody else.
All of them had gifts and noisemakers in their hands.
Charo was curious. This was something new to him.
It was Tomoko.
"Jane? Are you back?"
She turned on the light, and...
"Surprise! Happy birthday!"
"What's? Oh, gosh! Thank you. Thank you, guys."
"You're very welcome, Tomoko. Now you've got to make a wish and blow all the candles out."
Jane led Tomko to the cake.
Tomoko took a deep breath, and blew out all 19 candles at once.
Her friends cheered and clap their hands.
Then they started giving her presents.
One of them took notice of what Jane had brought.
"A bundle of copy paper? That's unusual for a birthday present."
"Maybe, but I know how Tomoko uses a whole lot of it to print out her scenarios, so..."
"Oh, thank you, Jane. And look! There's a red star at the corner of every sheet! Wow, I love this!"
Needless to say, The Red Star was the latest work of Tomoko's favorite stage director.
"By the way, did you guys know that Tomoko's father happens to be the famous Japanese actor, Ken Matsumoto?
"No kidding? Is that true, Tomoko?"
"Yeah. But my parents were divorced when I was little. I never dreamed that he would be starring in a Hollywood movie."
It was not until late at night that the last guests left.
Tomoko was now back in her room.
"Hey, Charo. Sorry of all the noise. It was pretty wild, wasn't it?"
She picked him up in her arms and sat on the bed.
"Birthdays are really strange. My parents... they were divorced exactly 10 years ago, on my ninth birthday. So it's a happy occasion, sure... but a sad one, too."
"Arf arf! I understand."
"I still remember that day so clearly. When my dad had to leave, he smiled and said, 'We'll see each other again, Tomoko. I'll always be with you.' But, of course, we've never met since then..."
"He's now a famous Japanese actor. I see him on TV every day and movies, too, but I don't know..."
Barely holding her tears, Tomoko whispered in Japanese.
Charo remembered Shota saying the same thing to him.
"Want to know another secret, Charo? It's about my dream. Some day I want to write a Broadway script for my dad. I know I can write it better than anyone else. Because I know him better than anyone else. The way he smiles, the way he talks, the way he... Oh, forget it."
"Arf! What's wrong?"
"It's impossible! This is New York. This is where all the talented people gather from all over the world."
Saying that much, Tomoko put Charo on the bed, opened the window and looked up at the midnight sky.
"Millions of people are (all?) striving to succeed here. Come on, Tomoko. Get real."
"What? Are you trying to cheer me up? Thanks, Charo."
"Arf arf! It's you, Tomoko. You are the one who told me to believe in myself and my dream will come true. You can do it! You can make it happen. Arf, arf!"
"Hmm.. I don't know why but ... somehow you make me feel so calm. You make me want to believe in myself again."
"Really. Thank you, Charo!"
Tomoko looked at Charo the way she would look at reliable human friend.
Charo loved her deep hazel-colored eyes that showed her pure and honest she was.