"Oh, we just knew you two are going to be summer children," their mother said, wearing a well-meaning smile around their lips. It was their thirteenth birthday, technically birthdays, but the cake shop had only one cake that both of them wanted and it took a lot of bribing for Aoi to agree to squeeze it all in on the 30th, a Sunday. "Grandpa was so excited. Twins! And now look at them, junior league stars. Born in the summer, living it up in the summer. Cheers!"
They drank their apple juice on cue, while the adults downed similar but much more potent golden brownish liquids. They will not have separate birthday parties attended by their respective classmates, held in vibrant diners and delirious karaoke rooms instead of under the aging roof of their childhood home until they are turning sixteen, and there will be plenty of pictures all the same, but Ryo will always remember the toast their resourceful mother had no doubt gone unscripted for.
From his thirteenth year onward, Suzuki Ryo will recite it to himself before every summer game and pretend he is drinking to it, saying a little prayer. A silent toast in his senpais' names, or his brother's, or his own.