richie wasn’t like the others. He had a different wish.
Chapped Lips
The clock silently ticked behind me, timing every second I wasted staring at the blank canvas in front of me. I held my brush tightly, not knowing how to begin the painting.
I closed my eyes and sighed, waiting for inspiration; I was desperate for anything to keep my mind off of what was to come.
At that moment, the clock stopped ticking. I looked down at my brush and grit my teeth, cursing under my breath. Tonight was New Years Eve, and millions of people were making wishes for the year to come.
I groaned as I grabbed my jacket, shuffling across the living room towards the clock. “Midnight already? My, how time goes by.” I walked past the clock towards a bright yellow phone, waiting for a call.
Suddenly, a single ring came through; I picked up the call and expected to hear someone wishing to lose weight or be rich.
“I know it’s New Years Eve,” a child whispered. My eyes widened at the high pitched voice; it was a little boy. “But I don’t want anything for the new year. I don’t want to lose weight, or get any money. I don’t need any of those things, I just wish… to go back in time… to January 1st, 2014.” I waited for the boy to continue, but instead all I heard was a quiet sniffle, as the boy whispered, “please.”
I quickly pressed a green button on the phone and waited for a woman to answer.
“I’d like to grant this wish, please.” I quickly spat, just as someone picked up the call.
“Alright, you will be redirected shortly. Please wait while we send you a portal.”
I smiled and hung up the phone, standing by the front door. Only a minute later, the doorbell rang. “Your portal!” Someone announced on the other side. I grinned and opened the door.
I stepped out of the portal and took a look around the room I was in. The room was small, small enough for a child; there were five shelves on the right wall, cards overflowing in each one. On the ground, there was an old, crusty carpet, stained with food and spilled milk. Finally, there was a bed in the left corner, where a boy sat, crying. I felt the portal close behind me as I began to walk towards the boy. I wasn’t sure how to introduce myself; it would be odd if he just saw me standing behind him.
I quickly transform myself into a bottle, with a tag sticking out of it; the tag read “open.”
I slowly rolled onto the bed and in front of him, waiting for the boy to lift his head. After a few sniffles, the boy opened his eyes and saw the bottle with awe. he read the tag and quickly popped off the cap, allowing me to jump out in a cloud of smoke. “Hello! I am a genie, and I am here to grant your wish.” I announced. The boy fell back and stared at me in disbelief, rubbing his eyes as if I were just a dream.
“You- you heard my wish! Are you real?”
I grinned. “But of course! I am here to take you back in time, to January 1st, 2014, as you requested.”
“Amazing! Thank you so much!” The boy hugged me and got up from his bed, grabbing a coat. “My name is Richie, by the way. I’m so glad you’ve come!” He scanned his room, pulling out a scarf and gloves. I continued to smile, unsure of what he was doing. After a few minutes he turned to look at me. “You should probably get some gloves, it’s going to get cold.” I giggled and shook my head.
“Don’t worry, this jacket will keep me nice and warm.” I assured him; Richie grinned as he walked over to me and held my hand. Taking a closer look at him, he was most likely around ten years old.
“How does this work then?” He asked.
“Close your eyes and think very hard about where you want to go.” Richie nodded and squeezed his eyes shut, biting his lip. I then snapped my fingers and caused another portal to open. “Now open them and jump!” He did as I asked, and we jumped into the portal, travelling through time. A few seconds later, the portal opened once again and threw us into the past, quickly shutting behind us. I rub my eyes and look around us. This was Richie’s room again, except the shelves were empty, and the carpet looked new.
“Is this what you were thinking of?” I asked, and Richie nodded. His excited expression faded away as he looked around the room.
“Yes,” he whispered. “This is it.”
He stood in the center of the room for a few minutes, before the door suddenly opened. Both Richie and I spun our heads around to see who had entered. I could tell he was nervous. “Everything is alright,” I assured him. “This is only a memory; no one can see us.” Richie nodded and his shoulders relaxed.
A little boy ran past Richie, jumping onto the bed and hiding under the covers. I assumed the boy was Richie from the past, but I was quickly proven wrong when a little Richie stomped into the room. “Where are you...?” He called out in a sing-song manner. The boy underneath the covers giggled, but Richie’s past self pretended not to notice.
“Is everything okay?” I asked Richie, who’s eyes began to water. He smiled and nodded.
“Yeah, just watch.” He whispered, walking closer to me.
“Where are you?” Richie’s past self sang again. “I can’t find you!” He called out in pretend frustration. Suddenly the other boy popped up from underneath the covers and screamed. Richie from the past exclaimed in pretend fear and laughed, hugging the little boy.
“Cole, you scared me! I didn’t see you at all!”
“Dummy, I was hiding under the blankets!” He giggled, hugging Richie’s past self. “Where did you think I was?”
“I didn’t know. I was scared I wouldn’t find you.” “It’s okay Richie, I won’t go any place where you won’t find me.” The boys hugged as Cole placed the covers over himself again. “I’m going to sleep, Richie. Happy New Years.”
Richie’s past self kissed Cole’s forehead and began to walk out of the room. “Happy New Years, Cole.”
I looked down at Richie, who’s eyes were still welling up. “Let’s stay here.” He choked up. I nodded and watched Cole as he fell asleep.
After a few minutes, Cole opened his eyes and slowly climbed out of his bed. He opened the window and slowly climbed out, standing on a patio. The wind started to blow into the room, snow following close behind.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” Cole began to sing outside. His voice was one of an angel, so I got closer to the window to listen. Richie stayed behind, his eyes closed. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang...” Cole began to cough, falling to the ground. The air seemed to be getting colder as he coughed, climbing back into the room. Richie looked up at Cole and screamed just as his past self ran into the room.
“Cole?! Mom! Something’s wrong with Cole!” A tall, skinny woman ran into the room and picked up Cole; as she lifted him away, Richie walked over to Cole as he mumbled something before being hauled away.
The room grew silent, the snow still falling into the room because of the open window. Richie’s past self raced out behind his mother, screaming for answers.
“What did he say?” I asked.
“He asked me not to worry.” Richie said. He gulped as he reached for my hand, holding it tightly. “I just wanted to know what he said.”
I held back my tears and tried not to look distressed. Even though I knew nothing about Cole or Richie, the pain in my heart was so strong, it felt as if I had known them my whole life. There was something so heartbreaking in Richie’s simple wish; knowing that all he wanted was to hear what his brother had said before being rushed away by his mother, was enough to break the coldest heart.”Where is he now?” I said.
“In a hospital. Any time we visit he’s sleeping; mother says he never wakes up. After today, Cole didn’t get any better. He just started getting worse and worse until about three months ago, where we had to keep him in the hospital to sleep.”
I pulled my jacket closer, shivering. “I told you it would get cold.” Richie said. I nodded. “I should have listened, I’m sorry.”
We stood silently for a few minutes, watching snowflakes slowly make their way into Cole’s room. I wondered what it might be that Cole had; what illness he could possibly have that would put him in a coma.
Every year, I would only grant a single wish. I had no interest in being a genie, in fact, I hated it; that was, until now. “Do you wish to see him again? Awake?”
“Yes. I miss playing with him.”
I felt today would be an exception. I held Richie’s hand tightly, and smiled through my chapped lips.
His wish came true.
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