Wish

Story by Gregory M. Fox
from A Breath of Fiction’s archives

Published 12/26/2010

* * *

The sudden flash in the heavy blackness caught her eye like a shooting star. 

She made a wish.  It was a sort of morbid tradition she had. 

Her father had been a smoker and a drinker.  She was six when he first burned her with a cigarette.  Sometimes she still saw that smouldering prick of fire and ash coming toward her face, and since then, the pain of her burns would return whenever she came anywhere near fire or smoke.

At sixteen, she had been driving at night for the first time.  Her father was in the passenger seat yelling about something.  She wanted him to stop—stop shouting, stop hurting her, stop making her miserable. 

Then—a flash of orange cinders

She had never seen a cigarette thrown from a car window before.  It flew at the windshield, and in a flash of sparks she smelled tobacco and burning flesh, and felt her scars ache. 

she tensed

hands jerked

her father shouted

and she was just wishing he would stop

and they were flying

spinning

Then all was still.  And quiet.  Just her breathing and … nothing else.

Now she wishes on cigarette butts.  Because of guilt.  And maybe hope.

Photo by Vasily Kozorez on Unsplash

Steeped

It was crowded, and louder than usual.  A gust of cold wind hit him as one more soul was ushered into the tiny coffee house.  The bell above the door tinkled.  Another angel’s wings, he thought.

His attention returned to his tea:  Irish Breakfast.  He used to drink it with his grandmother, who was neither Irish nor ever ate breakfast.  She just liked tea.  “Tea is peace and comfort,” she would tell him.  “A good pot of tea can make the worst enemies into friends.”  She always used to say that.  But that was almost forty years ago.

This was the best Irish Breakfast tea in town.  Almost as good and Grammaw’s.  “Excuse me …” 

Steam and memory rose from his cup, and he looked through the mist at a stranger’s face. 

“It’s pretty full here today.  Would you mind if I sat with you … or are you expecting someone?”

The bell tinkled.  Wind rushed in.  He was silent a long moment, knowing nobody was coming for him.  His eyes fell to his tea.  It was getting cold.

“It’s alright.  I’ll find somewhere else.”  And the stranger was gone, lost to the bustling noise of the coffee house.

He felt cold.

* * *

Photo by Nicolai Schindler on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox
from A Breath of Fiction’s archives
originally published October 30, 2010