Jaclyn felt happy when she passed Sharon Pope greeting Sempervirens early one find Wednesday afternoon. She knew the little girl should still be at school, but Jaclyn was glad that her parents allowed their daughter to run free now and again.
“What is school, after all?” Jaclyn had said to them. “Nomdish training! That’s all! So much better to let the little ones discover all the rune of this green world!”
While Sharon herself, with eyes always spying the happy magic in every day, tended towards rune, she was still living in the nomdish world with her husband Paolo Rocca on a street where magic was seldom seen by nomdish eyes. It’s the little ones, Jaclyn trusted, who keep that spark of rune alive in the grown ones when all the world conspires to squelch it.
“And what brings you out here on this beautiful afternoon?” Sharon asked Sempervirens.
“I’m heading to the creek to see if the frog eggs have hatched! I want to count the pollywog tails!”
“Oh, I loved pollywogs when I was a little girl,” said Sharon. “I still love them! Tell them all ‘Happy Spring’ from me, will you, Vi?”
As Sharon continued her trek up the road to Cathy Tea’s house, she remembered those long ago early spring days when she, too, crouched on a rock at the edge of a pond not much larger than a puddle and watched as the translucent eggs wriggled and melted and out swam a pollywog, wagging its little black tail.
“Happy spring!” said Cathy Tea when Sharon arrived. “It’s still cold, but I can feel spring in my bones!”
“Me, too!” giggled Sharon.
The two caught up on town news. Sharon, through Eugi, the father of her twin daughters, and through her husband Paolo was related to dozens of people, for Eugi had a wife and children by two other women, besides, and Paolo had four other lovers with children by all of them.
“We take kinship to a new level,” Sharon joked. “Seriously! My twins are half-siblings or step-siblings with at least half of the kids in their class! Not only that, but little Sam Cortez is both their cousin and their step-brother! Figure that one out!”
Cathy laughed. “I guess it’s like with the old tribes, huh?”
“Somewhat,” Sharon giggled. “It does feel a little like a ‘takes-a-village’ kind of thing.”
“I think it’s great that you and Paolo are raising his and Jade’s son,” Cathy said.
“Well, Jade was glad to have Caiden live with us. Our house is set up for children and babies. I like Jade–she’s not like Siobhan, wanting to keep me out of Paolo’s kids’ lives. And, of course Jade can spend as much time with Caiden as she wants. Maybe when he’s not a baby, he’ll want to live with her. Paolo and I both want him to choose, as long we can still see him and he’ll be well cared for. But that’s down the road a bit!”
After school, Sharon’s twin daughters arrived.
“Thank you for letting us come over,” said Isabella.
“Hi, Miss Cathy!” said Reyna.
They chatted about school. Isabella said that their brother Mario Behr was grossing out all the girls–except her–by talking about war movies that showed actual people’s heads being blowed off! She didn’t mind because she’d read a book about special effects.
“See, they take these things made out of clay–like casts, but not the kind for broken arms–and they fill them with katsup and then when they blow them up, kablooie! But it’s not real blood. It only looks like it.”
“I still think it’s gross,” said Reyna, “because of the ideas it puts in you.”
After tea and cookies, Reyna asked if she could play in the garden. She spied an old well towards the back of the patio.
“I bet I can make a wish!” she said.
She closed her eyes and wished so hard. At that moment, there was really one thing she wanted: to have gotten the spelling test 100% right! The students who completed that test perfectly would represent their class in the Spelling Bee, and more than anything, Reyna wanted to be a Spelling Bee champion. She and Paolo had practiced so hard for the test! He even had her spell some of the words backwards, though how that helped, exactly, she couldn’t figure out. Unless maybe she was standing on her head or writing in a mirror, why would she ever need to know how to spell backwards? But it was fun, nonetheless.
The well flashed with light as she dropped her penny into it, and before the light faded, her cellphone rang.
“Dr. Poppers?” she said, when she recognized her teacher’s voice. “You mean I got it right? All of it? And I get to be in the Spelling Bee? Oh, thank you, Dr. Poppers!”
Isabella wandered out to join her.
“I get to be in the Spelling Bee,” Reyna said. “Our teacher just called. I wished for it, and it happened.”
“Can I wish?” asked Isabella.
“Sure, why not?” replied Reyna.
Isabella didn’t have to think twice. She felt excited as golden light flowed up the moment her coin hit the water at the bottom of the well.
“It’s going to come true!” she said.
Dr. Poppers called.
“Just making my end of the day reports, Miss Isabella,” he said, “and I’m happy to report that you’ve had a very successful day at school today. Provided you do your homework, I’ve got a very good feeling that when you come home from school tomorrow your grade will be higher than what it is today!”
“That’s fantastic!” she said.
“My teacher said my grades are going up!” Isabella told her sister. “I guess wishes really do come true.”
“I knew it,” Reyna said. “You worked so hard! And remember how you knew all the answers in maths today?”
The sun set. The crescent moon rose. Sabreene dropped by, and the three women brought their cookies outside, while the girls ran in to play with the piano.
“Do you ever wish on the wishing well?” Sharon asked Cathy .
“I’ve used it a few times! I wished for skills, and after I felt like I was learning really fast,” Cathy said.
“That’s amazing,” said Sabreene. “It really worked!”
“Well, sort of,” Cathy continued. “One time, after I wished for skills, I felt sort of groggy and could only sit around for a while. So it was more like bizarro wishing!”
“And I’ve used it to wish for happiness,” Cathy said. “I felt a little happier after–sort of like positive thinking. Grit-your-teeth-and-be-happy. But when that faded, I was a little sad for a while. I’m thinking that mostly the well works as a way of helping us focus our intentions.”
“It could be that you have to wish for something you don’t have,” Sharon said.
“I think she’s right!” said Sabreene.”You have skills. You are always happy! So how can wishing increase what you already have? I’m not sure that magic works that way.”
“What’s something you don’t have in your life?” Sharon asked.
Cathy thought for a while.
“Well,” she said at last, “I don’t have a romance in my life at present.”
“Then wish for that!” Sharon said.
The next morning, Cathy thought it might be an interesting experiment. After all, what could go wrong? If she got a bizarro wish, then she just wouldn’t have a romance, which was the same as things were now. It seemed that there was only something to gain–and at any rate, she’d learn something along the way!
She approached the well with an open heart–for romance! She wished.
The smoke that billowed up from the depths of the well smelled mildly nauseating–like sulfur mixed with rose water.
But when the aroma of rose-water overcame the sulfur, the sweetness was intoxicating.
Inside the plumes of smoke it was impossible to see–and even impossible to think– everything was swirling like the mixture of heaven and hell. Is this what being in love feels like?