The wishing well heard the thrush welcome dawn with a bright song. Over the bay, clouds settled, spreading sweet whispers of mist into the meadows. Some mornings were made for benevolence.
Tomas had wanted to surprise Redbud with his return to life. He harbored a wish to come home solid and real and embrace her in warm arms. But Cathy’s message from onezero’s thousand mothers about the power of two caused him to rethink this. Some wishes need to be shared.
So that morning, Tomas told Redbud what he hoped to accomplish through the wishing well.
“Let’s do it,” Redbud said. “Do you think it will work? I think it will! And we’ll just keep trying until it does.”
So, early in the morning, Tomas and Redbud came to Cathy Tea’s. onezero came along. “She is my best friend, after all,” onezero said.
While Redbud and onezero sat inside with their cups of coffee, Tomas walked out to the wishing well. One look at the benevolent half-smile on the wishing well’s face, and he kept his bag of coins. Instead, he pulled out a single coin, bright with hope, and tossed it into the well.
The light shot up white and bright.
Rays of light arced to Tomas, lifting him and shooting through his translucent form. His fingers tingled first.
And then a jolt shot through where his spine would be, if he had a spine.
The pain was intense as nerve-endings formed and energy consolidated.
But it was the type of pain that Tomas wanted to moves towards, not away from, for he knew that as he moved through that pain, he would come out the other side in his old, familiar form.
His first breath brought joy. The air was so moist–he could taste the sea! Oh, his back ached, and his pulse beat so hard his chest felt about to burst, but he was solid.
When he held Redbud, he could feel her heart beat, he could feel her breath on his shoulder, he could feel her warmth.
“You’re so warm,” Redbud said. “I’ve missed this,” she whispered.
Cathy busied herself in the kitchen, and onezero was upstairs at the chess board, but Florinda was fascinated by this reunion of the man who used to be a ghost with the woman who was his wife. These were Sempervirens’ grandparents, after all!
Soon, the atmosphere became too mushy for a kid, and Florinda joined Cathy outside for a snack, leaving Tomas and Redbud alone to rediscover how they made each other feel.
And then it was time to include the others in the celebration.
“He did it, onezero!” Redbud told her aunt.
“I knew he would,” onezero said. “Wishes are just a matter of time!”
Cathy had baked fresh bagels and lemon bars. While Tomas carried his snack out to patio, he thought about what this new extension of life would bring. He realized that it wasn’t so much a matter of doing things as being with others.
He wanted to be with Redbud, with his grown children, with his grandchild, with old friends and new.
“Does it feel very much different?” Redbud asked.
“Oh, yeah,” said Tomas. “I’d forgotten all of this! Hunger. That stiff crook in my neck. How hard it is to chew a bagel with these old molars!”
“Oh, I forgot about your stiff neck,” Redbud said.
“I love it!” Tomas said. “Every single ache and pain, what my granddad used to call ‘the usual aches and pains,’ I love every one. If it means I get to feel breath in my lungs again, and to feel your warm skin, I’ll take these aches and pains!”
“You look handsome,” Redbud said. “I mean. Wow.”
“I’m not some old bag of wrinkles?” asked Tomas.
“Oh, you’ve got wrinkles! But remember. I was there for every one. All those years I remember when I look at your face.”
All those years! It had been a lifetime. It was easy to forget sometimes, looking at Redbud and onezero, who had chosen to remain young, that together they had lived a whole lifetime and more! That was a lot to be thankful for.
Sparkroot joined them.
“How come you’re not a ghost anymore?” he asked Tomas.
“I wanted to breathe again,” Tomas said. “And to crunch on your mom’s bagels with these old clickers.”
As evening fell, Tomas found himself in conversation with Florinda.
“I’m glad that Little Green gets a real grandpa,” she said. “Did you know that Sparky and I don’t have a grandpa? Or a grandma, either.”
“Well, we’re practically family, aren’t we?” Tomas said. “Why, you just live up the hill from my little grandchild. And I’ve always wanted to have a whole pack of kids to think of as grandkids. You can all me Poppa, if you want, little Flor.”
“And will you play games and tell stories?” Florinda asked.
“Of course!” said Tomas. “That’s what Poppas do!”
Soon, it was time to head home. Redbud sought out Cathy before she, onez, and Tomas left for Cradle Rock.
“Thank you,” she said.
“I’m so happy!” said Cathy.
“Me, too,” said Redbud.
“Me, too!” said Sparkroot.
For Cathy, at that moment, the old wishing well seemed to have brought everything good! She forgot about her confused feelings for Brennan, the man she loved who could bring such pain, along with such joy, and she remembered only her love for Brennan, the joy their two kids brought into this wide world, and now, this gift for Redbud and Tomas and all who loved them.
That wishing well–it brought life, and with it, the complex brew of feeling and emotion that living brings.