I remember wishing as a kid and I’d wish on anything. I had a rule about red cars; they needed a wish each. And stars, but that’s a given, and sometimes planes in the big city, as planes took the place of stars. And I’d look to the sky and pray on that, a wish here, a wish there, the tops of buildings, a lighthouse on the lake. I wish upon that broken playground swing that I’ll get my new baseball glove, or an extra $20 for mowing the lawn, or that my brother will stop tickling me to tears, or that my sister will stop practicing her trombone late at night. I’d wish that Quinn would get the bike he wanted or that Claire would just disappear because it’s torture, absolute torture, to sit next to her in class.
All that wishing and to what end?
And then later, when I needed it, I’d wish on the fuzz of the TV screen in between channels. I’d wish the sickness gone or the fighting to stop.
And now even later, Claire closes her eyes to pray upon tears that the heat will turn back on. That she’s just too cold to do this anymore. Cold in her lungs and her fingers are losing feeling. She said she lost her heat, that it wasn’t coming back, and she’d drink coffee and warm her face to the steam and you could see the color come back to her skin and then leave again as the cup emptied. I tell her to stop sleeping on the floor, and to start sleeping more at night. I tell her that the Native Americans used to say that any hour of sleep before midnight counted for double. She asks if 6 a.m. counted as before midnight. I say that I made that bit up, about the proverb.
She says the heater is broken, broken, broken, three times like that, and she’s waiting for the repairman to come fix it, but hadn’t called him yet and doesn’t want to look the number up or tell the landlord that it’s all just too much work. I offer to take a look at it, and she says it’s useless.
I run my hands through her hair and tell her the thing I used to have with red cars, like an omen toward something coming my way. I tell her it was nice to be so sure of something, even as irrational as it was. She wants me to list all the things I’d wish for now, and I say I don’t really have any, that we all learn at some point to accept and that’s fine, that wishes were for the mystics and life has taught us all a few too many lessons. I go on about how hope doesn’t die, it just gets dim and I go on and she falls asleep right there. I know that if I can just get this damn heater to work, it’ll all be okay. I just know it because you know what you know because you know it. Just get the damn thing working.