Fifth Tuesday stories
July 31, 2012
The challenge: A wish. Write a short short story, poem, essay or a mighty short film script about a wish made or a wish granted . . . your wish, somebody’s else’s wish, your dog’s wish. You’re the writer. You pick, you write, then polish.
“A fish on a dish, is that what you wish?”
(lyrics from The Incredible String Band)
Brandy Larson, second-and-fourth
Wish, noun, desire or longing for a specific thing
inclination, petition, invoke (upon), entreat, expression (of desire)
ME wisshen – OE wyscan
“Be careful of what you wish for,” Mom said, and “don’t wish your life away.”
I think this is mainly said to children.
“Your wish is my command,” the genie said.
“When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true,” Jimminy Cricket said (“Pinocchio”).
“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Proverb
“Dreams are wish fulfillment,” Freud said.
One can mistake wishes with reality – an example of wishful (magical?) thinking.
And how about “wishy-washy?”
What is a wish, really? For me it is a form of manifesting. Wishing has an element of intent. And intent has the power to make something happen.
Children wish to grow up. Teenagers wish for romance. Young people might wish for glamor or fame. Middle-agers wish for excitement, or maybe retirement. And elders might occasionally wish for youth! Full circle.
Who has not wished on a star, wished for luck or wished for change? We’ve all wished for time to speed up – or to slow down. Or wished we’d done things differently?
What have you wished for?
I’ve mainly wished for romance, but not recently…
Wishing has the flavor of hope and, if not angling directly toward happiness, at least hoping to perhaps gain help in some circumstance or other.
Animals also must have wishes. I know my cat, Aslan, meows a certain way when night is coming and he wishes to be let out. Horses enclosed in a stall wish to run. Dogs in the house wish to get out. Foxes wish they could jump high enough to nibble at the tempting grapes.
I guess there’s no end to wishing.
My wish for you? May all your wishes come true.
Elisha McCabe, first-and-third
I know it sounds like everyone may wish for this, but instead of telling you the wish of someone else, I will tell you my own.
I honestly do wish I could win the lottery. A huge pot.
It would change my life, yes, but it also would change the lives of my family and friends.
When I was younger, I wrote down in detail what I would do with a huge sum of money. I daydreamed about how I would spend my gains. Of course, I would pay off my debt and pay the taxes on the winnings immediately, but I also would pay off the debts of my family, then purchase new vehicles for each and every one of them.
My nephews would have a college fund set up in their names.
My older brother wouldn’t have a house payment anymore. I would help him open his own music business so his students would never lose their musical education.
My parents would be out of the neighborhood they live in currently and would be living happily retired wherever they wished.
Dad would have a brand new Harley Davidson, and Mom would have space for a garden.
My younger brother and his fiancée would be able to plan their dream wedding, hosting it anywhere they wanted. I would fly in family members who couldn’t make it otherwise.
There’s more that I would do, much more, but the word limit for this writing challenge won’t let me tell you what that “more” is.
Karen Zethmyr, second-and-fourth
“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“You’d rather I not put the paper back?”
“Why can’t you just replace it as any normal person would, exactly as you found it, in the near left quadrant of the coffee table, at right angles to the table? Anyway, I know what you’re up to, looking up ALL the movie options.”
So you’re keen on this movie you picked out. How does it speak to you from what you’ve read?”
“It’s grossed twice as much as the next highest blockbuster. What more do you need to know?”
“Oh, lessee… who wrote it, what else did they write, what’s it about, does it make ya think, does it make ya laugh?”
“That’s all done and packaged for you. The laughs, the relevance, the total appeal. Everything. One-stop shopping. Why can’t you go with popular response for a change? In my position as a manager, it pays to be up to snuff on the newest, latest, greatest.”
“Must be an awesome responsibility.”
“Can’t you just lighten up? Anyway, the movie starts at 7:40. You may leave your car here and I’ll drive. I like to have time to purchase popcorn and take a seat before the trailers. Wheels roll in eight minutes.”
“Wow. Precision. At which minute do we pass the Superdupereverybodysfave Mart?”
“There you go, making sarcastic remarks. Sometimes I wish you’d just… go away. Kidding…”
“Wishes can be powerful. Work at it diligently, you can actually make ’em come true. I won’t clutter the parking lot here. See ya at the KazowieMax.”
Seeing Harry later
Alicia Connolly-Lohr, first-and-third
I really, really wish they’re wrong about dogs not going to heaven.
My dog, Harry is really old now. He walks all critchety, sleeps all the time, and messes in the house a lot.
Last night, Dad put his arm around me on the couch and we talked. He said we might have to be put Harry down soon.
I bawled. I hugged and pet Harry until I fell asleep next to him. “Nobody understands but you and me, do they, boy?” I am his absolute best bud in the whole wide world. When he looks up at me, there is, seriously, actual telepathy going on, but it’s not exactly words.
Dad says dogs have no souls and don’t go to heaven. “But, Dad, he’s not like some old wilting plant in a pot. Dogs got personalities. They love. They are like people only not so smart.”
I know Harry is gonna go soon, and I’m gonna miss him and cry a lot. But when I grow up and get married and have kids and go places, I’m going to remember him until I’m old and rickety myself. And, I swear, I’m gonna bring the world the Doctrine Of Why Dogs Do Go To Heaven and hang out with us forever.
I just know I’m gonna see Harry again, bounding toward me. He’ll be just like he was, tail wagging, all jumpy and lovey. Then, I guess we’ll go flying around together, just our souls, but happy as ever.
Rebecca Rettenmund, first-and-third, second-and-fourth
All the seating in The Five Point bar was full, but when Jerome stepped into the scene, two girls saw him from their booth and waved him over.
Jerome approached with his beer. “Well, hello, ladies. Ya mind squeezing me in?”
The saucy brunette grabbed her crotch. “I’ve got just the place for you, Jerome.”
The blonde giggled. “Don’t you mean, Jeromeo?”
“Jeromeo?” Erik wondered, sitting down. That’s when he noticed the brunette tonguing Jerome’s ear.
“Man it sucks watching Jeromeo get everything he wants.” The blonde filed her fingernails.
“He’s got the best job, money in the bank, and three girls who’d screw him at a drop of a hat.”
The blonde dropped her file. “THREE girls?” she exclaimed. Then turned to Jerome. “Let me have some before you run out.” Then a threeway make-out session erupted.
Eric sighed. “No one cares about what I want. You wouldn’t even have those girls if it wasn’t for me.”
With a wet sucking sound, Jerome pulled his lips away from the girls. “YOU? I got these girls all by myself.”
“No, it was me.”
Jerome fidgeted with annoyance. “You’re drunk.”
Erik gulped his whisky and slammed down his glass. “I’ll prove it to you. I’ll give you anything in the world. What do you want?”
Jerome leaned forward away from the girls’ ears. “I wish to be left alone.”
With the magic of a wish, only one man stood on a completely deserted planet. Jeromeo.
My wish for a work permit
Millie Mader, first-and-third
When the butcher knife, blade gleaming, whirled toward me, I was thunder struck!
Luckily, four-year-old “Devil Dickie” didn’t have the strength to throw it far. It clattered to the butcher-block tabletop. Dickie laughed fiendishly, certain he had scared me.
My only mode of transportation was by bike, and he quickly learned to take out my batteries. I sometimes sat with these kids at night, and my bike lights were necessary. I went reluctantly. I needed the money, but I wasn’t old enough for a work permit.
Dickie reminded me of that ‘bad seed’ kid in the Omen. Any time something was lost (say hidden) he would blame his two-year-old brother. The family was close to what we would call today, “dysfunctional.” The mom went daily to some class, bridge club, junior league – you name it. The father managed Appleton’s largest appliance store. World War II was over, and this family had one of the first washer-dryer combos, as well as a portable dishwasher. These left me spellbound.
Here’s the rub though. In summer she wanted the clothes hung outside. She also wanted her tile floor scrubbed by hand – my hand. A library room held volumes, with shelves to be dusted weekly. I realized this was impossible. These kids never took long naps. I ended up dusting along the outside of the books and started reading Gone With the Wind.
Did I feel guilty?
Not really, and I learned a lot.
The basement stairs was another vexation. She kept canned goods and condiments in the cellar. A jar of marshmallow crème kept calling me. Once I sampled its contents, I’m ashamed (only a little) to tell that I kept sticking my finger into the jar every time I made that trip. I’ll never know how the mama felt when she opened that jar. I would be long gone by then.
I was grateful when school started. Talk about the long hot summer, I longed for my birthday, a work permit, and a civilized job.
Andy Brown, first-and-third
When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are,
Anything your heart desires,
Will come to you.
I call bullshit.
Everyone knows these lines,
We’re brought up with them,
And how could we ever deny the legitimacy of,
Claims made by a talking cricket in coattails?
Preoccupied by the wooden boy,
Finding his answers in magic,
We’re oblivious to the man singing those words,
Cliff Edwards, who would later declare bankruptcy four times,
Divorce three wives, give in to alcoholism and drug addiction,
And die, his body unclaimed.
I wonder if he believed the words he sang.
An anonymous author wrote some far less catchy words:
Some people develop a wish bone where their back bone should be.
This has been a tough month for me,
Four weeks ago, I was one of ‘some people,’
But with time and trial, I stopped wishing and started earning,
I straightened my back, and came to terms with the fact that,
Wish is not synonymous with goal.
It took me quite a while,
Probably longer than it takes most,
To come to terms with the fact that the cricket was talking to the luckiest of people,
Those to whom the stars cater.
Those people can keep their innocence and keep on staring upward,
It’s time for me to look around,
And notice the world in which I’ve spent the last twenty-four years.
Everything my heart desires can come to me just as soon as I deserve it.
Cathy Riddle, first-and-third
*Writer’s note: I tutor kids at my home in reading and writing. This past year, I had a shy and wide-eyed fifth-grade boy come over every Monday. An energetic kid, the toughest soccer goalie I’ve ever seen and a real life survivor of multiple heart surgeries when he was less than a year old, with a few tune-up operations since then to keep him going.
Doesn’t a boy like that deserve a wish to come true? One day he told me he wished he could have recess all day long instead of sitting at a desk in school. So I wrote a chapter book about that – anyone know an eager illustrator? – and my Fifth Tuesday submission is an excerpt.
My reader’s hero is Aaron Rodgers, of the Packers. So the main character of “Really Recess” is named Roger Aarons, of course.
“Recess, forever, Roger? Is that what you’re proposing?” Principal Oolong said.
Ben spoke low so only Roger could hear. “Holy Canoodles, Aarons. You’ve really started something. Better dial it back.”
But Roger refused to back down now. He kept his voice firm and said, “Yes, that is just what I want. I reject sitting inside at a desk all day long when there’s a playground outside and the weather is perfect. You can’t keep me trapped inside.” He took a deep breath. “I’m sure there’s something in the Constitution that protects against that sort of treatment. Wasn’t slavery abolished a long time ago?”
The students gasped. Lulu began laughing and her cheeks turned red. She tugged on Roger’s arm and made as if to give him a high-five, but he stared straight ahead. Ben slunk low in his chair and covered his eyes with his hand.
Principal Oolong did not chastise Roger. In fact, he replied in the best way possible. “I think we can arrange that, Mister Aarons. Recess all day long for you, starting tomorrow.” He looked down at his watch then up again at the student body. “With that, I hereby dismiss Constitutional Freedom Day Assembly as of this moment. You may all return to your classrooms.”
He looked at Roger. “Er, back to your desks anyway – wherever they may be.”
A call to Hachiman
Jen Wilcher, first-and-third, second-and-fourth
Sojobo strode out of the meeting room and hurried straight to the Hachiman shrine in the northwest corner of the village. The crow-like mountain globin’s or tengu’s brows furrowed in deep concern about the current situation regarding the coming attack of Dr. Takahashi and his minions.
A bright red tori gate marked the entrance. Large statues made of stone glistened in the moonlight. His wings flapped in the slight breeze blowing through the corridor surrounding the main building as he made his way to the outer sanctuary. Stone steps greeted him as he stepped through the gate.
Coming to the golden outlined doors of the inner sanctuary at the top, Sojobo took a deep breath and opened them. Paper lanterns hung in each of the corners. A statue of the war god sat on a heightened platform made of gold, legs crossed, carrying a staff in one hand.
Sojobo walked across the floor and knelt on a cushion in front of the god. Eyes cast down, he clasped hands together and closed his eyes. “I have come to ask your assistance in the coming battle with Dr. Takahashi,” he said softly. “I have reason to believe he will outright attack our village soon. Please give us your strength and protect us.”
Once finished, the old tengu bowed low, his beak almost touching the ground. He placed the offering of rice balls at the head of the statue and walked back to his residence.
Lately, my fondest, most frivolous wish has been to meet an actor by the name of Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, that is his real name.
Need to look him up? Go ahead. I’ll wait.
He’s been working as an actor for some time now, but recently he’s had parts in more and more well-known works. He played Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Major Stewart in War Horse. He also plays the title character of the BBC television series, Sherlock. But I first noticed him in a little picture called Starter for Ten.
I’m not sure what drew me to him, as he is arguably not what you could call classically handsome. Recently, in fact, he’s been compared to an otter, and otters are cute, don’t get me wrong, but handsome? Then I visited a little site called YouTube and my life has never been the same. I knew I liked his voice, but I found myself willing to sit and listen to poetry as long as it was being read by this man. Because of Benedict Cumberbatch I am now on Twitter and I have a Tumblr *shakes head*.
I’m away in New Orleans as my husband is there on business and I’ve never been. It seemed like the perfect time to visit. And if a certain actor just happens to be filming a movie there at the same time, well, hey, I might as well make a wish. I just won’t hold my breath.
Lisa McDougal, first-and-third
The spring rain had caught many off guard, me included. The taxis in the street are having a hard time keeping up with demand, and I only had 10 minutes to get six blocks.
Check the bus schedule.
Next bus is in seven minutes. There are at least four more stops after that. No time to wait, so I run.
My tie blows in the wind, occasionally hitting my face. I look at my watch, seven minutes left, four blocks away.
The rain is heavy and soaks my blazer. My hair drips with chemical salt that runs into my mouth.
Five minutes, two blocks to go. A lady with stroller nearly hits me. I dodge her just in time.
Four minutes, less than a block and a half away. The rain is hard thick, but I can see my destination.
Three minutes. A stop light stops me with just one block to go.
Two minutes. I pick up speed at the light and bolt for it.
One minute…my pants are getting too heavy for my run.
Seconds left… “Lisa!” I yelled.
She turns around just before going into the building.
She gasps, eyes wide. “Allen!” But you’re –”
“Dead. Yes, I know, but I wanted to tell you something. I wish we’d had more time on Earth together. We would have been great for each other.”
She is shocked and speechless. I kiss her on her cheek just as the rain stops and the sun comes out.
Then in an instant, I’m gone.
Katelin Cummins, second-and-fourth
Trees whisper of things they witnessed years ago.
I stare at the weeping mulberry tree in front of my childhood home. Age changed it.
My favorite tree no longer looks like Mr. Snuffleupagus; the branches of his elephant nose hang bare and skeletal. Snuffy now leans and stretches backward to catch the sun from beyond the canopy of the large maple that overshadows it.
I walk under the protective canopy. I used to hunt for rolly pollies and millipedes right here. I collected grass clippings and sticks in an empty mayo jar to keep the bugs.
The bricks marking the edge of the grass are gone. I squat down and grab some of the black dirt with my hands, let it slip and fall out of my fingers. I cherish the soft, cool damp feel and earthy smell.
This is right.
But my hands aren’t purple from picking and eating mulberries. No berries now, too late in the season.
I wish I was back there, a kid again, under this tree. Back with simplicity, fun, and safety.
The leafy branches of Snuffy’s tail touch the dirt and form vertical prison bars that block out the daylight. I fall into wishful memory as into a cage.
The sun warms my back. I turn and see the path through the break in the branches. A kid looks at me from the sidewalk and then speeds away on his bike. Shall I remain in this wish… or create a new one?
A wish for home
Spike Pedersen, first-and-third
Tap tap tap. Solid and hollow sounding.
Someone stalked her.
She just knew it.
Following her in the dark.
And whenever she stopped, the thing tapped three times. Each rhythm burst into her mind and mocked its way across her fear. Her voice felt throttled, and her terror hitched itself to Persian fire horses.
Tap tap tap. She burst into a full run across Oak Street and past Kanack alley. Her heart begged her fear to stop and her breath slung like fire in and out of her chest.
She stopped under the gas lamp with its yellow glimmer flickering shadows back and across the edges of its reach.
She held her breath, forced the thump of her heart into the background.
Just the flicker of the flame in the wind. The shapes it produced were devil and rod in her mind. Each sending her panic to bursting, then extinguished when her mind disproved the threat.
She wished to be safe in her bed instead of almost dead.
Then from the dark stepped a man.
Her heart ruptured. And her mind shot signals to her voice, and she screamed.
Officer Griffin Ginty held up his hand, the nightstick gripped tight. “Quiet, child. The neighbors are asleep. Alone, Miss Olson?”
Miss Olson held her chest. She nodded.
“Walk with me, child. I will still the night for you.” He tapped the night stick.
“I wished to be home just a moment ago.”
He pointed forward, and the dark swallowed them whole and complete. The sound of the footsteps gave way to the crow and the owl.
Blunt impacts swam back to the gaslight, and a life brutalized lay upon the dirt.
And the certain rhythm began.
Tap tap tap.
A wish of the ages
Judith McNeil, first-and-third
Maybe it occurred on the long walks with my dog, watching all the very young women jogging, while I plodded. Maybe the ad in the paper about a new experimental procedure, looking for participants, pushed me. But whatever influences came together to form a powerful incentive in my wishing apparatus, well …
I lay on the table like an old oversized guinea pig, without fur, IV’s covering every third inch of my body. A concoction of vitamins, anti-aging formulas, immune system boosters, racing through my veins to persuade my aging cells to regenerate.
The scientist-doctor hovering over me, could have been my grandson, although his skin was already pale and wrinkled and hair completely white at his thirty-ish age. Was he looking for a cure for his early aging condition? I forgot the medical term for it. It certainly was a good choice of research, given people’s popular interest in retaining youthful appearance.
The more pressing question was, why a seventy-nine-year-old woman would be willing to experiment with her body, without any guarantee of a successful outcome? I did not follow fashion or body-type trends. No, I did it strictly out of curiosity. Plain old curiosity, the old WHAT IF?
Well, it worked. Yes, I got that “yeow! it’s a bombshell” twenty-one-year-old body. Wish I could have been happier with the results. As I looked in the mirror, it came to me that I really was looking forward to dying.
Kat Wagner, second-and-fourth
The land, glittering with possibilities, loomed ever closer. The man beholding it drew his hand across his brow, fevered with the thought of discovering such a brave, new, fantastic world.
“Tis the fulfillment of a wish, my dream to claim for my nation some piece of earth,” he whispered, clutching the rail with one hand as, with the other, he gripped his battered flag. Red and white swirled around the pole, the flag flapping in the wind screaming over the waves.
The journey had been long, his boat tossed adrift by storms, but he had found his way to this land so frighteningly exotic, yet comfortingly familiar.
He leaped over the boat’s side as the boat ran aground on the shore, pride swelling through him as he ran amidst natives who stood about dumbly, their strange and heavy jewelry hanging about their necks. Several used their jewelry to hide their faces as he passed. He communicated with signs and simple words to explain his presence.
His crew lagged behind, terrified by this foreign world, but he forged to the base of a primitive statue and thrust his flag into a patch of grass. “I claim this land for the United States, for the people of that great and noble democratic republic!” he cried.
“And what,” he asked of a savage, “do you call this land?”
She silently pointed to the feet of their giant god.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” he read…
He had discovered America.
Clayton Gill, first-and-third
“Just imagine, Miker.” When Geo got excited he twitched. In the dark above the theater stage, the catwalk swayed.
Miker raised a finger to his lips, gripping the railing with his elbows. He kept his binoculars trained on Assistant Principal Fragmont who paced among the summer school students corralled below.
Fragmont proctored test-taking for the academically challenged. Most of his dozen eighth graders sprawled in their seats looking around the cavernous school auditorium. But Cox, Dersham, and Fleegle studied the exam. They wore blue baseball caps sporting a yellow “G” above the visor. Miker had helped Geo stitch tiny binaural-brainwave-entrainment transmitters inside each cap.
“Just imagine if our subjects aced summer school. It could invert their scholastic performance curves. Put them above the median, generate unbounded confidence, launch brilliant careers in science and the arts.”
“Stop wiggling,” Miker said. “And lower your voice. Maybe you should turn down the dial, too. Look at Fleegle, the dude is scribbling so hard he’s sweating.”
Unlike their underachieving peers, the three subjects had their heads down, concentrating on the exam.
It had cost Geo and Miker fifteen bucks to get the delinquent second-year eighth graders to wear the hats. But, Miker figured, the mystified look on Fragmont’s face was worth it.
Then Fragmont snatched the cap off Fleegle’s head. Fleegle stared up at Fragmont. The concentration on the boy’s face faded to bewilderment.
“Ouch.” Geo said. “One down. That’s going to hurt our ‘P’ score. I wish we had inserted the transmitters sub-dermally.”
To catch a kiss
Jerry Peterson, first-and-third
Mrs. Beaumander’s class
Marshall Middle School
August 27, 2010
What I did on my summer vacation
My friend Cody Debbs and me played baseball for the Fighting Salamanders. Jeez, what a name.
On one particular day, I’m in the outfield and Cody’s at shortstop. It’s the last inning, and we’ve got this game won if we can get this next batter out.
The Mighty Blue Birds have got a kid on first, but he’s sleeping.
I tell you, there was nuthin’ to do out where I was, either, so I’m noodling a dandylion with my toe when Cody hollers to me that if the batter hits a fly and I catch it, he can get Alice Murphy to kiss me.
Mrs. Beaumander, that’s true motivation. You see, I dream about Alice, so I get ready.
Our pitcher burns one down the middle, and the batter whacks it.
All I’m seein’ is me and Alice going at this kissing business. Maybe I should cross that out.
I call for the ball as it’s climbing up into the sun, and I lose it. I can’t see the darn thing.
I move to my left, squinting up when I step in a hole and go over like a bag of Legos, and the ball beans me before I can get up.
Cody goes tearing after the ball, but he trips and can’t make the throw, so the ump calls the hit a homer and we lose by one.
I didn’t care. What I really cared about was that kiss from Alice I wasn’t gonna get.
Mrs. Beaumander, do I get extra points for being honest?