Make A Wish

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write about someone who has a superpower.... view prompt

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Fantasy

My name is Caroline Starr. People nowadays call me the Fairy Godmother. Maybe a tad on the dramatic side, but I do appreciate the sentiments behind the term. The truth is, I just like helping people. 

This year I am turning 120 years old, not that it shows. In truth, I haven’t aged since the day I turned 32. 

I still remember finding out I was an immortal. That was sure a surprise, at first I thought I was one of the lucky ones that always looks young for their age. But that excuse only gets so far, trust me, I know. I tried to figure out what had caused such a phenomenon, my parents certainly didn’t share such a gift, and to be honest I still don’t exactly know. A couple years after I figured out something was off with my aging, I was approached by a group of people that also had immortality. Most were a lot older than me, in actual years anyway. They explained that it happens at random, anytime and to anyone. As they talked, most of them tried to emphasize all the perks of eternity and shared their experiences through the night. But I could read a room as well as anyone and knew the hidden fact that I was already dreading to hear. The oldest in the group, an 18 year old girl who had lived for 587 years, pulled me aside with a whisper.

“Caroline,” her youthful face a stark contrast to the knowledge in her eyes. “Life will never be the same for you now. You can’t leave ties, you can’t let a lot of others know. My group and I find the best method is to live in one spot for a while and then we drop off the grid for a generation or two. It’s a hard life, but it doesn’t have to be all bad.”

She went on to explain the art of trusting the secret to a special few. And how it never hurts to have contacts everywhere. Although only slightly, that did help me, at least I had some answers.  

As they started piling out of the door that night, each leaving their contact information and a last word of encouragement, I collapsed on the couch. Lying against the cushions, I could hear the clock against the wall. Every tick a mocking echo of the life and priorities I used to have. That was 70 years ago.

After finding out the truth, I had no clue what to do with myself. Heeding the advice of more experienced immortals, I invested the money I had everywhere I could. I had no husband, no children so at least that was easier. But what then. I couldn’t even comprehend how much time I had, everything around me was constantly moving and changing and all I could do was watch. It was like reading a book where the main characters grow up through the story, but when you finish reading you find yourself in the same spot as when you started. To escape this, I spent time traveling the world where things at least sort of changed for me. I learned a lot, and met a lot of different people, but by the end of it I was honestly tired of just taking in information. I wanted to really do something.

 Everything changed in 1980, I was living in Arizona at the time when I noticed a series of advertisements about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a group with the purpose of granting a last wish to terminally ill kids. Now, from the get go I was hooked. Earlier I mentioned that I like to help people, which is true, but in all honesty I really like helping kids. Maybe it’s because I can never have any of my own, or perhaps their innocence just touches my soft spot but either way I knew this new foundation was the place for me. I marched up to their headquarters the next day and explained the situation to the founders, Scott, Frank and Laura. Laughter met my claims the first time I told them, but they offered me a volunteer spot anyway. About ten years later, they didn’t think I was so crazy. We talked, for a long time, and agreed that I could be a call in for special cases. Ones that needed my contacts, experience or funds. Plus, it would help keep my secret from others if they were not seeing me all the time. From that point on, my secret has been passed through the Presidents of the Foundation. Even though it was kind of risky, I figured anyone willing to help kids was at least a little trustworthy.

It was during those years I acquired my nickname. I would come in from virtually nowhere and make even the most impossible wishes come true. It did help that I had the time, money and resources for the grandest requests. But, I think the main factor was that I had absolutely nothing else. Other volunteers would go home to their families or work part time at other jobs, but I was there for the children alone. I formed a lot of bonds with all the kids I helped, and would just sit and talk with a majority of them. I was hoping that the inevitable early deaths would not strike me as hard, having spent lives end all around me as mine goes on. But I cry for each and every one. 

I don’t mean to reminisce too much, actually I’m here to talk about one kid in particular. Her name is Anne-Marie. I had just finished with the case of a little boy named Alex, he had wished to swim with whales. After thanking my friend the marine biologist, noticing the streaks of grey through his hair that weren’t there the first time we met, my cell phone started to ring. I excused myself.

“This is Caroline.”

“Hey, I know you’re working on a case but we have another one for you if you don’t mind.”

At this point I was amused that David, the current president, even needed to ask. He knew I literally had nothing else going on.

David told me there was a nine year old girl with a brain tumor and a kind of impossible wish. But even when I pressed, he avoided telling me what the wish actually was. 

I promised I’d be at the hospital in the morning and hung up, too many questions still flooding my head. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been given so little information.

Anne-Marie was sitting in a chair looking out the window of her hospital room the first time I saw her. She was clutching a small yellow bear and wearing a pair of light pink pajamas. I had talked with her parents before coming in, asking if I could talk to her alone. Anne-Marie didn’t notice me at first, so I softly called her name. She whipped her head around, brown eyes wide. I quickly pulled a chair up beside hers and readjusted my ‘Make-A-Wish Foundation’ t-shirt. Her gaze read the words and she relaxed, looking up into my face.

“Are you the one they call the Fairy Godmother?” 

I laughed at her expression of awe but affirmed that I was.

“And what do you wish for Anne-Marie?”

She buried her face into her bear, the words getting lost in the fur.

I leaned forward, “Could you say that again, sweetheart?”

Her mouth lifted off the bear and she met my eyes.

“I wish to live.”

I sucked in a breath, trying to hide my wince. I struggled to find anything to say and for a moment we sat in tangible silence, her eyes never leaving my face.

I reached over to hold her hand, “I don’t suppose you have another wish in mind.”

She shook her head hard.

I tried again, “There isn’t anything you’d really like to do? Do you have a bucket list maybe?”

A nod. Then nothing.

“Could you tell me? I only want to help you Anne-Marie.”

Her grip on her bear tightened, “I have a list, but I want to do everything on it. I can only do everything if I’m alive...so I want to be alive.”

I bit my lip and changed the subject, talking to her for about an hour before I left, a weight on my heart.

That night I lay in bed and stared at the ceiling, a crooked blind throwing a single ray of light across it. A glance at my alarm clock initiated a groan, 2:45, There would be no sleeping that night. I finally got up, racking my brain for something, anything I could do. I sat down at the breakfast table, opening my computer and pulling over a notepad. 

Five hours later I could hear my alarm going off from the bedroom and gave a long stretch before going to turn it off. My strained eyes blinked a lot just to focus on the pages of notes I had taken. After downing my sixth cup of coffee I grabbed the papers and ran out of the door. 

“No Caroline.”

I had thrust my notes under the nose of Dr. Sheeran, the doctor in charge of Anne-Marie.

“But you haven’t even looked, there are a lot of different treatment options here and expense is no problem, really.” 

Dr. Sheeran continued going through files, “Don’t you think we’ve tried every option! We tried and I am sorry but I thought you knew what you were doing when you joined this foundation.”

“Try harder then! Some kids do make it.”

Dr. Sheeran stopped what she was doing and ran a hand over her face, her voice lowering, “Yes Caroline, some kids make it but a lot don’t. Our goal here is always to save lives, but we have to accept when we are just not enough. It hurts us too you know. Now please, I have work to do.”

She walked down the hallway, starting her patient check as I stood there, watching her go. 

I found my way to Anne-Marie’s room, my knock received by a small “Come in.”

She was in the bed this time, her bear still in the crook of her elbow and the t.v. turned on in front of her. When she saw it was me, her face lit up and sat forward to meet me. I sat on the edge of the bed, facing her. 

“Well?” She waited, eyes bright.

I almost cried right there, but that was one of my rules. Never cry in front of the kid. 

I just dropped my head and I could feel her weight shift as she leaned back against the propped pillows.

“Oh.”

The single word hung in the air between us, accusing me of failure as well as if she had yelled it in my ear. She lifted the t.v. remote in both her hands, silencing the happy chatter of the movie. I finally met her eyes.

“I don’t suppose you’ve changed your mind about telling me what’s on your bucket list?”

She shook her head.

“What if, what if you only told me the stuff that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish. Just so we can talk about something.”

She looked at me, lips sealed and for a moment I thought she would say nothing. 

“I wanted to get married.” Her voice was barely above a whisper and she brought her bear closer to her.

“I wanted to have a baby, and a dog.” Little fingers picked at the worn fur of the bear.

“I wanted to be a baker and sell pink cupcakes.” Tears welled up in her eyes and her face flared red.

I grabbed her hand again, “Oh sweetheart, I want that for you too. I just wish I could give you some of my time, the Lord knows I have more than enough.” 

I swallowed the rest of my words, her sniffling nose punctuating the returning silence. 

The room started to brighten and I looked towards the window, ready to watch the sun’s rays sweep through. But then I remembered that the sun had already risen, in fact, it was over the top of the building at the moment. Anne-Marie spotted the source of the light before I did. She gasped and pulled away just as I looked down. 

My skin was glowing, really glowing. Golden light was coming from inside of me and slowly brightening the entire room. I ran my fingers over it.

“Oh man, okay okay,” I held up my hands to Anne-Marie. “Please don’t freak out, I’m not sure what is happening.”

She scrambled back further against the pillows, but didn’t scream.

I licked my lips, turning my hands over and back again. My brain was scrambling for an explanation. That’s when it happened, I felt it. I knew what to do. Well, I didn’t exactly know, but I felt what I needed to do and that was enough. I reached out to Anne-Marie, holding my hand face up and waited. Her breath quickened and her eyes widened. I waited and she finally reached a hesitant hand towards mine.

Skin touched skin.

I closed my eyes and gave. A warmth built between our palms and through my eyelids I could see the flickering light of her skin mirroring mine. The glow started to dim and I ventured a peek, watching as our skin returned to normal. We tentatively pulled apart our hands, my eye catching at a spot of paper white on the tip of my pinky. I inspected it closer, rubbing it off before realizing it was a stain of albinism. Anne-Marie wrinkled her brow and grabbed my hand, inspecting the spot. But I only smiled, because that spot meant that it had worked.

I leaned forward and tapped her on the nose, “Wish granted.”

Her head jerked up, a glimmer of hope in her eyes. 

“But, what…”

“I’m not quite sure how but I gave you years, my years. You’re going to live!” 

Her face paled, “So you’re going to die soon, because of me?”

My cheeks were starting to get sore but I couldn’t stop grinning, “No, no, I...have a lot more time than most. But it’s hard to explain, just know that I will be living a full life, just like you. That’s a promise.”

Two arms threw themselves around my neck and I hugged Anne-Marie. I even broke my rule as a tear ran down my cheek.

“Thank you Fairy Godmother.”

That was five years ago. Anne-Marie just celebrated her 14th birthday. I finally entrusted her with my secret, and we’ve talked long and hard but the reason behind my ability to give years has eluded us both. The doctors call my cases a miracle and frankly I’m inclined to agree. Now my hands and feet are completely colorless. I’ve given a lot of years, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Maybe one day I'll run out, maybe then I’ll grow old. Or perhaps I’ll fade away right there, but I don’t care. I’ve lived enough, and I’d rather let others live too. The problem is, I can’t save everyone. For those of you out there like me, with a secret of your own. Please, try giving. I can’t give you instructions to the how, like I said, I still don’t know. And I’m not asking you to make it your life’s work. But if all of us even save just one person, well, then it’s my wish that comes true.

July 03, 2020 18:06

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2 comments

Brigidh Mc Keen
22:34 Jul 08, 2020

Your story is both fairytale and superhero. I feel the longing to do such things, to make others feel better and nurture their hope of life. Thank you I enjoyed reading your story.

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Taryn Holmes
02:21 Jul 16, 2020

Thank you so much! It means a lot to get feedback on my writing, especially when it is able to really connect with a reader :)

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