By Yun YuXi
I had a thousand wishes.
No, I had more than a thousand. There was no number to their amount. I had more wishes than there were shimmering, sparkling stars in the sky, bright against the deepest, darkest night. If some bored little god took the glistening waters of every vast ocean, every endless sea, every raging river and every smooth lake and split them into teeny-tiny droplets that shone like crystals, the total of crystal droplets would still not be as high as the total of my wishes.
It was too many. As I stood in front of the well, eyes drawn down into its seemingly bottomless fathoms, one hand stuck to the ancient, cracked stones as if it were glued, I could not focus on a single wish. They flew through my mind like a wild wind. Uncatchable. Untameable. No matter how hard I tried, I could not catch one.
I turned my eyes away from the well and to my free hand. To the coin that sat perfectly in the dead centre of my palm. Its golden surface shone brilliantly. I remembered when my grandmamma had given it to me. A night deep in winter’s hold, when the snow had fallen gently, gracefully, like how a bird’s feather falls.
“Wishes can be granted,” Grandmamma had said, “If you know where to look and what to do. Some old wells are special wells for wishing. Fairies live deep within their waters and they may grant a wish in return for a prize. But not just any prize. Fairies are greedy and picky, worse than a child.”
If you know where to look and what to do.
I knew both, I had for a while. But now that I was standing here, I couldn’t pick a wish. I had spent countless days, hours upon hours, alone with my thoughts, choosing the one wish among so many that I wanted granted. I had changed my mind countless times, as often as the clock hand ticked. But I had finally, finally thought I had come to a decision. But standing in front of the well, faced with the enormity, the power of what was right in front of me, the wish I had chosen and all the others before it seemed…wasteful. Silly.
So, I closed my eyes. I focused, entering my mind, my imagination and closed the gates to the real world. I imagined a swirling wind around me, made up of the words that formed my wishes. I watched them swirl, like a tornado but infinitely calmer, with my mind-eyes. And I reached out with my mind-hand, allowing the sentences to sift through my fingers like sand. I concentrated on each and every one. My wishes for my pappa and mamma to stop fighting. My wishes for my little brother to not come home crying. My wishes for wars to end. For people to listen to me. For us to be able to afford my school camp fees. But no matter how big or how small, none of them seemed right.
“There is one more thing you should remember,” Grandmamma had also told me, “These coins are special because they are magical, just like the fairies. Once you throw it into the well, you will be connected to it. Then everything it connects with, the water, fairies and their magic, you too will connect with. For a brief period of time, that connection will last, and the fairies will look into your heart. If they do not see the wish you want granted within your heart, if it is not the wish of your heart, they will see it as not worthy and they will not grant it. Then, the coin will go to waste and your chance will be spent.”
Wish of your heart.
I focused again, but this time I imagined myself within my heart. The wish-tornado was smaller now. I felt the words tickle my mind-hand. I focused on the deepest caverns of my heart, dived into places I’d never been before. I focused on the position I was in, what being here meant, what the person who led me here meant.
My heart swelled as my mind-hand latched onto a wish.
I left my mind and re-entered the real world. I opened my eyes and felt tears escaping, travelling down my cheeks. As I looked at the coin, I smiled. For though the realisation of my hearts truest wish had been a gift wrapped in pain, it had also come with love, beauty and a fulfilment of a deep longing. A longing of someone whom I loved and missed so much.
I tossed my coin into the well and watched it fall down, shining like a shooting star. Then I closed my eyes. I remembered the day a week before. Remembering brought down a tidal wave of grief upon me. I had just been sitting on my bed, re-reading one of hundreds of fairy-tales my grandmamma had shared with me, had shared her love of with me. And I had dropped the book, barely heard the loud thud as it made contact with the ground. There was just shock, followed by pain, a knife stabbing my heart, as I thought of how she would never share another fairy-tale with me again. I thought of how I never got to hug her goodbye, never got to say it to her.
There was a faint plop as the coin broke the water’s surface and sunk beneath, into the eager, twisting little hands of the well fairies. I felt something stir within me-No, something stir within the well, but I felt its echo within me. My eyes were still shut tighter than any lock and I didn’t dare open them, less the moment pass and all I end up seeing is a disappointing nothingness. But I could feel it, feel them looking into my heart, reaching out to it. My feelings came crashing down upon me again-Love, joy, shock, anger, sorrow and pain, a tidal wave of it all-but it came crashing down on them, too. I felt the magic stir again, rising up out of the waters of the well. I waited, my breath held tight in my throat, anticipation and hope built up within me.
The magic stopped.
A tough yet gentle hand gripped my shoulder. Fireworks exploded in my heart.
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