Be Careful What You Wish For
You know how children are always wishing for something; well I was no exception. I recall always wishing I had long hair, or a new toy, or even that my annoying brother would move away. Why once I remember wishing that he would just disappear. My grandmother overheard me making this hateful wish. She instantly scolded me, and then offered a piece of her friendly advice.
"Be careful what you wish for young lady, you know you just might get it," she exclaimed while looking me directly in the eye.
"What’s that supposed to mean?" I asked.
"Just what I said, sometimes you may wish for something not realizing the consequences that might follow."
"Ah, I’ve wished that at least a million times, and nothing has ever happened to him yet!" I bragged.
"Remember what I told you, be careful…" she said as she left me standing in the front yard.
I thought for a moment about the statement that she had made wondering what had happened to make her say such a thing. Probably just another one of them scary old wives tales that she’s thinking of or one the ghost stories that she tells. By that evening I had convinced myself that she was trying to scare me into not making such wishes. Okay, I thought I’d just not make anymore wishes about my brother, at least where she could hear me anyway.
As dusk fell over the farm everyone scurried about getting their evening chores done, of course my brother had to play another trick on me. This time, he had gone too far! I didn’t find it very funny of him to swing down from the barn rafters and scare me the way he did, why I could’ve got hurt, or hurt him worse than I did. Of course I was the one who got a whipping and grounded just because I threw a bucket of water on him. I didn’t think it was very fair, I mean after all he was the one who started it. Before I could contain myself…I had said it again.
"I just wish you would disappear off the face of the earth!"
The sun was high in the sky and shining bright when I awoke the following morning. I yawned and rubbed my eyes…trying to remember what day it was. Remembering that it was Saturday I quickly jumped from the bed, pulled the covers up and tucked them neatly under my pillow and dressed in a hurry. If I rushed and got my morning work done, I would have plenty of time to get Dana and go down to the creek to catch some fish while they were still biting.
"Going to go gather the eggs, I’ll feed the rabbits, and then I’m going over to Dana’s. We’re going fishing today, already got the worms dug. I’ll be back by lunch…and no I don’t want breakfast, Dana’s mom baked muffins for us to take. Love you mom…" I hollered as I the back screen door slammed behind me. I leaped from the porch and headed toward a day of freedom.
I looked quickly to the tree house where my brother always spent Saturday mornings. Strange, he wasn’t there. I checked in the barn, no sign of him there either. I quickly gathered the eggs and set them on the back porch still wondering where he was. After feeding the rabbits and petting their soft ears I had a brainstorm. I just knew that he had gotten up earlier than me, got his chores done and had beat me to the creek. I was sure of it, it sounded just like something that he would do.
I bypassed Dana’s house and went straight to the creek not even taking my fishing pole. I thought of all the things that I was going to say to him, how I was going to tell him off for taking my spot. How dare he do such a thing after I had planned for three days to go fishing, and dug all the worms by myself, no thanks to him. I bet he had even took my worms, I was furious.
"All right you!" I shouted as I walked through the thicket that led to the creek. "What do you mean…." I was surprised the creek bed was silent, other than a small ground squirrel that sat nervously at the edge of the water. Thinking I had jumped to conclusion I decided to go get Dana and salvage the remainder of the morning. We might even have time for a quick swim in the deep part of the creek, or at least go wading.
"Dana!" I shouted as I entered the gate in her front yard. "Dana!" I shouted again. I waited for a few minutes and knocked on the front door. I knocked a second time after no one answered. This is weird, where would they all be this early on a Saturday morning I wondered. Surely it isn’t Sunday! I begin to think that I had my days mixed up. I wonder what’s going on I thought as I quickly stepped down from the porch and ran across the field back toward the farm.
I had never seen the farm ever look so lonesome as it did that day. I gazed over at the field where grandpa should’ve been working in the tobacco, but it was desolate as well. Mom wasn’t out back hanging the usual Saturday morning wash on the clothesline, and I didn’t see Wayne anywhere. Where could everyone be I wondered…
Once back inside the house…I ran from room to room to find nothing more than a quiet empty house. Slowly I walked to the back door when I suddenly realized that my family was playing some kind of practical joke on me. Yeah, that’s what it was…it was all a joke. They were hiding somewhere and watching me. Well, I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of seeing me panic. I quickly wiped my face, put on a smile and went about making me a jelly sandwich for breakfast. I decided that I would talk really loud so they would know that I wasn’t worried, not one little bit, but deep down in the pit of my stomach, I felt a nagging feeling that I didn’t like. I was beginning to wonder…I didn’t really like this being alone very much at all.
As I sat eating my sandwich a disturbing thought entered my mind…my grandmother’s words rang very clear..."Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." A terrifying thought occurred to me. What if she did know something that she hadn’t explained, what if my entire family had disappeared, what if I had actually wished them…what if they had vanished because of me! Slowly I walked to the living room where my grandmother should’ve been working on the nine-patch quilt for my bed only it was as empty as my piggy bank. I sat down on the sofa and began to weep. Curling up on thick cushions, I hugged my grandma’s favorite afghan close to my chest. The scent of her vanilla perfume still lingered on the yarn. Tears trickled down my face as I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what life would be like all by myself. How would I ever make it…I wondered what would I do?
"Jean! Are getting up today?"
Slowly, I leaned on my elbow listening and trying to figure out who was calling my name. My mind instantly reviewed the previous events. The quiet creek, Dana’s empty house, the empty tree house, and the lonely tobacco field…What was going on?
"Jean, are you getting up today? I thought you and Dana were going fishing?"
It was my mother calling me…but how, where…I didn’t care I quickly called back. I’ll be down in a few minutes. I jumped from the bed and quickly pulled the covers up and tucked them neatly under the edge of my pillow. It seemed as though I had just done the very same thing only minutes before, had it all been a dream? What was going on…I decided that I didn’t want to know, I was just glad that my family was back. I also decided to follow my grandmother’s advice…from that day forward I was very careful what I wished for, because I was afraid of the consequences.
Written By: Joyce Bowling
Copyright September 2006