My name is Rebecca and I would like to tell you my story about the wishing well. First, let me say that I am happily married with three children, boys 13 and 10, and a girl 6.
I always envied others and was keenly aware of how others had it soooo - good. My next door neighbors to the east, always seemed to have the extras in life. New car, as in - brand new, 2 weeks vacation to Disney (every year), summer home upstate, and all the niceties around the house were all just taken for granted. Can you imagine that? Here I sit with my half broken down 1990, a house drastically in need of repair, and a vacation which consists of a one day outing to an amusement park. Neighbors to the west may not have been as well off as their easterly counterparts, but that woman's hubby was a hard body from the word, go! Why does she deserve him? Mine sits on the couch, belches, farts, and says, "pull my finger". What good is he? My northern (across the street) neighbors didn't have everything, but every word out of their mouths were, "my son is the on the dean's list, my daughter is the most beautiful cheerleader, my son is the best pitcher"; if you catch my drift. Just surprised that they haven't told me (atleast not yet) that they - can walk on water!
Getting past all of that is no easy chore but atleast I always enjoyed the annual family outing to Jersey for a day of amusement park fun and quality time with my family. This year was no exception, as my husband and I packed our gang into the '90 and took off bright and early to enjoy our one day mini vacation. You know I complained about the traffic all the way and quickly pointed out to husband and kids that everyone else, had air conditioning. Well, our windows were rolled down and we were hot as hell. The ride turned out to be about two hours long and you know the park was mobbed beyond all belief. Just my luck! Everyone else goes on vacation in the off season when lines are short, prices are down, employees are patient, blah blah blah, blah blah blah.
Don't let me sit here and complain about the whole day. The rides were great, even including some brand new ones although the lines were long. The food was tasty but the prices astronomical. The mob even thinned a little, after it rained on us for almost two hours. With full stomachs, drying off (somewhat anyway), my family and I got on the long line of the water log ride. The ride is a family tradition and one we always look forward to. We snaked around the line slowly but surely and everything seemed like last year until we passed the gum tree. The gum tree is that tree were everyone (so it seems) pulls their gum out of their mouths and sticks it, on the tree. Why, I don't know? Who started this bad habit? Who cares? Anyway, the thing is dying from lack of oxygen but atleast it's colorful. Past the tree and before the line could snake back to the east, was a newly constructed wishing well. I guess each person could throw in a coin, make a wish, and be ready for their log ride; which is a good way for the park to make money, no doubt. They weren't getting my coin, but then, I heard him, the wishing well's caretaker.
"I wish you live to be 100", he told one grandfather, then he wished the grandson "to be President of the United States, one day". After hearing him, I finally saw him as the line snaked in his direction. He was an elderly man of about 75. Thinning gray hair, medium frame, and nothing particular to note except that he had a smile on, from ear to ear. He seemed too happy and anyone like that just makes me nauseous. His wishes toward complete strangers made my stomach turn, but within minutes we were face-to-face. He wished my husband a promotion, my oldest son to be a professional baseball player, and was about to go on, before he came to me. I asked him what made him so happy and he replied he "cared for the world's only wishing well - that worked"! Yeah right, I thought but he seemed sincere. He told me to toss a quarter into the well and make a wish. I don't believe in these things but listened anyway and wished that I would hit the lotto. Then, we continued on the line and we still could hear his best wishes being given to others, as we got on, the water log ride. The ride was great and just as we were dried off from the rain, we got drenched. The mini vacation went well, I guess, and a good time was had by all family members. The car ride home wasn't as hot but the traffic was horrendous. Wait until next year, I thought as we pulled up to, our home-sweet-home.
I never gave that senile old fool another thought. That is, until the next morning when I was enjoying my morning cup of coffee with while reading the newspaper. That is when I suddenly remembered to check my lottos! Wow, that old man promised me a working wishing well and I was about to take him up on it. Guess you already know that I didn't win, not even a 3 number consolation prize. Oh well, the well only cost me a quarter.
The summer was over and the new (school) year was starting. All the normalties with running a household were in order. My hubby off to work, children to school, my part time job, and running the house was, as ever. Then, I started noticing a turn in my luck. Like the bird's, it went south. My husband developed spinal meningitis and nearly died on me, before having a miraculous recovery. This still left him terribly weak so he was unable to work. Guess that was around Thanksgiving time. With unemployment almost out, his job decided he would be the victim of downsizing, and let him go, just prior to the Christmas holidays. My kids had little and I was resentful toward my eastern friends who had, everything.
The start of the winter was no better. My oldest son was about to play quarterback in the little league's all-start game. On the way from his final practice, some drunk driver didn't quite get all the way around his bicycle and almost killed him. The all-star game was out and the future is unpredictable, with his limp and all. I'm just lucky he's alive, unlike my northern neighbor who's son closed out his season pitching a no-hitter in the Junior World Series.
Picking up more hours (hubby still out of work), and doing everything I could, to help my family was a challenge as April approached. Certainly God himself would appreciate my efforts and help my luck go into a new direction. Atleast, that's what I thought until I was called into the kindergarten Principal's office on Good Friday. Naturally I missed work but my family always comes first. That morning I was told that my youngest and only daughter was special. This is a term that is extremely difficult to comprehend, but I think it means --- slow. Oh the pain shot through me and I just couldn't take it anymore. What else could go wrong? I'm too nice, caring, and hard working to deserve any of this.
Time passed slowly for us that year, my husband and oldest son were almost well and I appreciated my daughter in a whole new way, which I never could begin to understand, before. I was the family's strongest member and was always aware that the burden was all mine. How I dreamed of having the lives of one of my three neighbors. Their lives must be better than mine and they are not even worthy of what I am worthy of. You just have to say that life is unfair. After all, why me?
Thank God the summer is here again. Preparing the kids for school each day is a job in and of it self. Right on schedule and in the heat of the summer, our family left to enjoy our one day mini vacation. Do you need for me to repeat the timing, travel, and air conditioning complaints that I stated earlier? Blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Sweating bullets in a packed park is our version of having a good time. I can even tell you that this time it didn't rain, although we suffered through 98 % humidity. As usual the people were in a hurry, the food was expensive, and the lines were long. Just as usual we hit all the family rides including our traditional water log ride. The line was longer than usual because each person was hoping to get drenched by the giant splash at the ride's, end. Wise guys, teens, diaper odors, arrogance, and beauty were all things to behold while on such a long line. We eventually past the bubble gum tree which was drooping more than I can remember. You know it gets so little air. Before I could take one more step, I heard him.
He wished that one woman would keep "keep her youthful figure, for fifty more years", wished the husband that "he had enough stamina to keep up with the little lady", and the son "to be able to throw a football like Joe Namath". There again, and one year to the day, we came, face-to-face. He instantly remembered me and wished me all the best. I told him I didn't want his wishes and after the year I had, I wished he would drop dead! The wishing well's caretaker looked at me sadly for a few seconds and took me off the line for private counseling. He was very disappointed that I wished he would drop dead. Then, I explained, while my family snaked along the line holding my place, that since last year's wish, my entire luck has gone south. No lotto, no nothing. I reminded the caretaker that he promised me that the wishing well, worked! With tears in his eyes, the caretaker hopped into the well and with H2O up to his knees, retrieved a quarter and returned it to me. He promised me that the spell was now broken. I also was never allowed to wish at the well, nor would the well grant any wishes to anyone I informed about it's powers. I laughed out loud trying to tell the stupid old fool that the well, had no powers. My wish not only didn't come true, bad luck followed me everywhere. At that time the wishing well's caretaker informed me, "that the wishing well wouldn't grant my wish, that would be too easy". I asked him, "then what does the wishing well do"? The old man smiled as he escorted me back to my family who were just about to go on the log ride, and said, "my wishing well simply grants you, what you wish on others, and I wish that you live to be 100"!
back to the Short Story Page.The Wishing Well, 4 April 1997