Josh pulls out his phone to prove to Skye his hatred of his own birthday was a real thing. He types in his question and the search results came back instantaneously. He clicks through to the first result. Fragapanophobia. Having the label means he isn't the only one to hate that one day of the year. That he isn't weird or out to punish his mother. Or her. He understands what it means to celebrate someone else's birthday. It is a sign of love.
But for him, his birthday has always meant a spiral of loathing. Not of getting older, he isn't yet old enough to understand what age does to a person. Rather, of life. Of what he hasn't achieved in the past twelve months. It is a mourning for what could have been but wasn't.
Skye types into his phone, smiles to herself. She asks, does he also suffer from neoannophobia? A fear of New Year’s Eve.
Not to the same degree. He's kissed no one on the stroke of twelve because he's always been some place where he is alone. Even at a party, he'll escape the bridging moment between one year and the next.
Wishing someone happy new year is not the same as wishing someone a happy birthday. The time since Jesus was born does not differ from one day to the next. But the recognition of him no longer being thirty-nine means something. It will soon pass that he'll have been alive for forty years. And that hurts.