Wish

The streak of light had passed in an instant, but Jude kept staring into the sky as though expecting it to reappear. “I’ve never seen a real shooting star before,” he said.

“So what’d you wish for?” Collin asked.

“Isn’t it bad luck to tell?”

“Whatever,” Collin shrugged. “I’ll tell you mine.”

Jude rolled his eyes. “Let me guess, a new Jeep?”

“How did you—”

“Because you mention that you want one basically every day.”

“I guess,” Collin grunted.

“Also,” Jude said, giving his friend a conciliatory pat on the back, “you have no imagination.”

“Excuse me?”

“This is a wish we’re talking about. It should be something big. Something you can’t achieve on your own.”

“Well a new Jeep’s pretty big,” Collin retorted.

Jude shook his head. “Something life changing.”

Collin’s face went serious. “A new leg?” he asked.

Jude blinked in surprise, looked down at the prosthesis supporting his weight. He opened his mouth to speak, then shook his head. “No,” he said softly, looking up with a pained smile. “I wouldn’t wish for something I can live without.”

Jude’s eyes shone in the starlight. Collin stared into them, feeling his face grow warm as he finally understood.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox
Photo by Bradley Allweil on Unsplash

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