Wish

It’s dark, and colder than I really like outside.  We’re speeding north on the darkest section of highway between the Springs and Denver.  “Make a wish,” she tells me.  My attention had been occupied with trying to find the perfect distance from the vent that kept my hands warm but did not burn them. 

“Huh?”

“It’s 11:11.  You’re supposed to make a wish.”

“Ah.”  I look at the clock.  I ponder a number of wishes that are patently crazy.  I don’t decide on one.  “What’d you wish for?” 

“I can’t tell you,” she says.  “It won’t come true.” 

“Heard that before,” I say.  It’s a widely held belief.  I patently disagree with it.  I tell her so.  “It doesn’t work that way.  If no one knows what you wish for, how can anyone make it come true?  I’ve never had a wish come true that I kept secret.” 

“Well, what’d you wish for?”  She asks.  I think quickly.  What I would really wish for is… unsuitable for this time and place.  I’m quiet for a moment. 

“I wish this wasn’t the last time I’d see you.”

“That’s a lame wish.”

“Not really.  Not to me.  Besides, 11:11 comes twice a day.  I can make another wish tomorrow morning.”  I burn my hands on the heat vent again.  “And now that you know, you might help that wish come true.”

“Well, 11.11.11 is coming.  You can make a big wish for that,” she says.

“Yeah.”  The gears in my head spin.  “I think I know what I’d wish for then.”

“Well?”

“I’ve lost a lot of people in my life.  I would wish for the people I really care about to stop disappearing from my life.”  I know it can’t come true.  Entropy is the way of things. 

“That’s a good wish.” 

“So what’s yours?”

“I wish I knew who I was.”  She elaborates, but that’s not really my story to tell.  I will say that I can relate.  I spend a lot of time trying to figure out who I am and how to relate to other people.

I tell that story because it’s the last time I saw her.  My 11.11.11 wish hasn’t really come true.  Not yet, anyway.  I am always saddened when people fade out of my life.  I know I should celebrate the time I did have with them, but we all know that is harder in practice than in theory. 

When I was a kid, I’d travel to Iowa every summer.   We spent countless nights after dark, chasing fireflies.  We’d catch them and put them in a mayonnaise jar.  We would forget about them, and they’d die.  Maybe hanging on to people in my heart and missing them is far kinder than trying to keep them with me and watching them die.

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