For One Day

Reads: 611  | Likes: 7  | Shelves: 8  | Comments: 4

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A struggling businessman, at the end of his rope, who can only have a wish for one day.

Submitted: July 30, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 30, 2016

A A A

A A A



The smell of sour pickles, stale cotton candy, and hot dogs sizzling over the grills freely intermingle under the rainbow of neon lights. I should find this all enchanting. Instead I find it’s giving me a headache. It’s also too loud. The sounds of the carnival games, in which balls slam against glass, and of crying children is giving me a migraine.

It all feels hopeless. None of the joy can pass through the thick wall of depression that has been gradually built around me by the hands of society. Sure. Blame me if you must. It’s what everyone does. Never mind that I blame myself for my business failures, or that I blame myself for the recent divorce of my wife. And even though I’m in debt for my bad decisions, does it mean that I should have to face life alone? My family and my friends have abandoned me. Oh sure, they say that they’re there for me, but that’s nothing more than a feel-good lie. None are able to take me in after I fall. And willing to help pay my debt? Not a chance!  

Do I sound spoiled? I’m entitled to be. I’ve always been there in a jiffy for my friends and family, loaning them money when they were short. I stayed at the hospital, through all hours of the night, with one friend after she was in a car accident. I let another crash at my house when he was having marital problems; heck maybe this helped cause my own marital problems! I have taken so much time for them, because I was under the false impression that they would do the same for me. But life isn’t fair. Maybe this is why my business and my marriage suffered. I didn’t take enough time for myself. But thinking so is only a cheap cop out. It’s more than just not just giving myself enough me time. I just wasn’t a good businessman to begin with. Yes, I can program like no other, being able to do everything from design my own websites, to programming code, and programming my own games, and to being a top notch hacker – not that I hacked, at least not very often – but when it came to business sense I was inept. I have always been a notoriously poor salesman. It was stupid to think that I could run the business without hiring a consultant.

Trying to not give myself any more of a pity-party, I try to get lost in my surroundings. But I kick myself in the butt for even thinking that wasting a little bit of my money on this sideshow of cheap stuffed animals, expensive garbage food, and expensively low quality rides was a good idea. Everyone here is a walking reminder, molded from my memory into physical form, that people care about themselves first. Each of these people carry their own cross, drinking the dregs from their own bitter cups. Some are just better at hiding it than others. The only people who seem truly at ease are the children. Well there are children throwing tantrums, but least they are still being honest that not all is well.

I pass by game stalls. Throw the rings on the bottle, or shoot however many figurines and win a cheap prize. No. I take it back. The cheap figurines and the bottles are probably worth more than the cheap prize. It would be less expensive to buy one of those stuffed animals from a store than blow all my money on tickets here. I almost break down, knowing that my ex-wife loved stuffed animals. I would good naturedly tease her about it, telling her that she was too old for them. Now I would gladly pay in blood to give her as many of them as she wanted.

No use beating myself up. Society is already making me pay for my mistakes, and they won’t be satisfied until I’m finished paying out the nose.

I think of riding the ferris wheel. It looks like a large, golden circle lighting up the night sky. But what’s the point? I certainly won’t enjoy the view of flashy lights. Who knows, I might even throw myself off when I’m right at the top in order to forget my problems. The ferris wheel is a sick reminder that life takes us up, only to take us down again, and then up, and then down, and then up, and then when the ride is over we are down again instead of up. Death is a downer. So scratch that. In fact, none of the rides look interesting. This only reiterates that coming here was a waste of time and money.

Then my eyes fall onto something. It’s a tent glowing a pale green, and there is a sign on it which reads Madame Antoaneta: Wish Granter.

Should I step in? Why not! It’s not like I have anything else going on.

The same shade of pale green is inside the tent as outside. There are strings of lanterns hanging down with what looks like a green fire burning within; a nice special effect! Woven tapestries of stars, the moon, and of the sun are hung around the walls of the tent, and below my feet is a rug with the designs of leafy trees on it. A table is in the center, and behind it sits an old looking Romanian woman, minus the hairy warts that you so often get in stereotypes. She is wearing the traditional garb, though, a bandana around the head, golden circlets around her arms, a sari-like skirt with a piece of bright yellow fabric tied around it at the waist, and a white blouse.

“I have been expecting you,” she says.

“So, are you going to grant me my wish,” I phrase it more in a sarcastic manner than I do a question.

“If you wish me to do so, Robert Donavan.”

“What did you say?” I can’t believe she knows my name.

“Robert Donavan, age forty-three,” she speaks as if she were casually talking about the weather. “Your software business is failing, and will like your marriage.”

“Get out of town,” I nearly choke. “There’s no way you could know  all that.”

“There is,” she insists. “Your energy is written like a book, and those who train themselves can learn how to read it.”

This is unbelievable. If you had of asked me years ago – heck what am I saying – if you had of asked me just this afternoon, I would have said that fortune tellers were frauds. Then again, as far as I know she could still be a fraud. There’s always such a thing as a lucky guess. Still, I play along. The woman’s relentless. To prove her point that she’s the real deal, she tells me the exact date of when I started my company, and the name of it. I tell myself that she could have easily looked at my website online. This makes perfect sense. I have my picture on my software website, as well as the date I started my company, and of course my name is on there as the founder. As for trouble with my marriage, that’s just a lucky guess on her part. I mean, what entrepreneur or dreamer doesn’t have problems in their relationships? The list of divorces among the brilliant are endless.

“I know you’ve had financially difficulties,” she continues, and I wish that she’d shut up. “However, I can grant you one wish. Any wish you like.”

What the heck! Why not? It’s not like anything’s going to happen. “Sure,” I say, trying not to sound condescending.

“Are you sure?” Madame Ant- whatever hear name is – is looking at me intently.

“Why wouldn’t I be? Is there some sort of voodoo curse attached?”

“I’m not a practitioner of the dark arts,” the gypsy flares at me.

“Right, right, right!” I try to calm her down. Some people have no sense of humor. “Anyway, what is this string attached?”

“Your wish will only last for one day,” the gypsy holds up a finger to drive the point across, as though I’m deaf.

“Fine,” I say to her. “I wish for a pepperoni” –

I’m surprised when I feel her hand slap me hard against my face. Boy! She hits hard for an old lady. I rub my face, knowing full well it won’t make the sting go away.

“Don’t mock,” she says. “I know the troubles you face, but mocking will not ease the pain. Nor can you hide from your pain. You must face it. But before doing so, I’m giving you the opportunity to have one day of happiness. But don’t treat this lightly. Think about it, and then make a decision.”

Taking my hand in hers, she closes my hand around something that feels wooden and polished. I open my hand to find some sort of pendent carved like a box. There are strange symbols, of some sort of language, inked on all sides of it.

“When you are serious, then make your wish!” Her voice isn’t mellow, and she’s aggressively poking me in the chest. “Remember, your wish can only last for one day! So make that one day special!”

“Should I wish for money?” I ask.

“Do you find that wise?”

“How should I know?” I almost shout.

She’s looking at me sadly, and I hate it. I’m not asking for her pity. I try to give her a look back, indicating to her that I’m in no more mood for these shenanigans, but she doesn’t get the picture.

“What good would money do?” she asks. “You would only have that money for one day, and anything you do with that money on the one day you have it will all vanish by the next day.”

“Then what’s the point?” By now I’m exasperated. This is worse than only the three wishes rule.

She’s undeterred by my anger. “The point is to make that wish count. To make you appreciate that one day for a lifetime. Can you really appreciate being really rich for one day?”

“Maybe if that one day is spent getting drunk off fine wine, or spending it with blond bombshells, then yeah.”

“Those are superficial reasons,” she says. “Can you not think of anything more pure, more rewarding?”

“I have no idea,” I shrug.

“Exactly,” she agrees, “but after you give it much thought, you’ll know what you need.” 

“You don’t know what I need!” I shout.

If I think I can bring her to my level, I’m sadly made to look like a fool. She remains calm as she tells me, “You’re right, I don’t. But if you look in your heart, even if you have to do some deep searching, you will find what you’re looking for.” She sighs. “Now please, go think it over.”

And just like that I can’t get a word in edgewise, as this old gypsy, - the crone is stronger than she looks – is pushing me out of her tent, while trying to act polite about it.

 

Back home I think about what Madame Antoanet said about having a wish for one day. Don’t get me wrong. I know that it’s impossible, and I’m more than certain that she’s a fraud. But what can I say? I’m desperate. This lovely house, complete with a garden out back, and three bedrooms, I’m about to lose. I’ll have to move into an apartment. It’s bad enough that I lost my wife, but why do I have to lose my house? It’s safe to say that I’m in a philosophical mood, and that I am going to think about what my wish would be, if it could come true.

What would be a good one day wish? As she said before, money wouldn’t work. I guess I could use the money for one day like no other. I could rent a limo, go to a fancy restaurant, and spend the night in a five star hotel. No. That’s pointless. It’s all so superficial. Experiencing a different culture could be rewarding. Say I wish to be over in France, Japan, or Germany, or wherever. But I would only have one day there, and that’s not enough time to learn the language or really immerse myself in the sights. I could wish to spend a day romantically with a beautiful woman, but once that wish wears off I’ll fall into deep depression having loved and lost.

No. There must be something more meaningful. But what? Because life seems so pointless. But why does it have to be? Why can’t I enjoy the simple things in life? This gets me to thinking about children. They always seem so carefree. Was I any different as a child? Life was magical back then.

It all comes back to me. Feeling crystal droplets of water gushing out from the sprinklers on a hot summer day, or of quenching my thirst by drinking out of the garden hose, leaving me with a sweet, rubbery taste, finer than any wine. I remember the wonder and magic of the outside world, of seeing a ladybug resting on a leaf, or of seeing butterflies, like rainbows of vibrant colors fluttering around. I remember laying on my back upon a bed of grass, marveling up at the clouds, thinking they were islands in the sky with their own kingdoms. I remember my wonder of seeing rainbows after storms, as I tried to unravel the mysteries of what sort of treasures were at the end, while thinking of what would it be like to slide down those colorful slides. I think back to how eating a hot dog or a cheeseburger, fresh from the grill, with a hint of that savory flavor of charcoal, was gourmet food, or how about how  hot chocolate crammed with marshmallows tasted like warm heaven after sledding on a winter day. I think back to when I could create my own worlds, just by using cardboard boxes and blankets to make my own caves full of mystery and excitement. It was these simple things in life that I enjoyed, including the mundane getting high on sugar cereal while gluing my eyes to the television watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Money wasn’t an issue when I was a kid. It didn’t become so until reality set in during my teenage years. I was eager to be an adult, and now I’ve found with adulthood comes credit card debt, and stress with juggling finances. But don’t get me wrong. It’s not just money that’s the issue. I have a keen awareness of how messed up the world really is. And it’s not in shambles because of evil. I wish it was just good versus evil, like something out of my Saturday morning cartoons. I mean, let’s be honest, that would make life so much simpler. But it’s a matter of varying degrees of grey, of conflicting opinions about what’s moral and not moral, and how these questions, rather than making people better, just seem to bring out the worst in everyone. And that’s what sucks. It’s normally not good people fighting against bad people, but good people fighting amongst each other because of varying opinions.

My head’s not so high up in the clouds to think that children are free of hardships. But for a child in a good home, raised by loving parents, the troubles don’t amount, as Humphrey Bogart would say, to a hill of beans. I don’t mean that kids don’t feel scared. I had to put up with bullies growing up, and I always had a fear of monsters under the bed. But none of that could squeeze the joy out of my life of the magic I derived from simple pleasures. Add that to the fact that I’ve found adult bullies are far worse than little kid bullies, or even teenage bullies, as they have more effective ways of hurting you which doesn’t involve physical pain. As for the monster, my belief in them has never gone away, but as an adult it has been displaced with something more sinister. Think about it. Monsters aren’t some one-eyed, three-headed creatures lined with many claws and gnashing teeth, hiding under the bed, or even from those creepy pastas you read about online. Monsters are those politicians receiving bribes to look the other way when the environment is being destroyed, or of those who make money off of wars, or of dictators wiping out their citizens, or of the psychopath who kills for the heck of it.

Why was I ever eager to grow up?

That’s it! That’s my wish! I wish to be a child again for just one day. Six years old will do nicely. But wait! Not a child at this time period, alone and confused, but a child living back with his parents in the 1980s. But would wishing to be a child in the 1980s living with my parents count as more than one wish? I can’t even believe I’m even considering making a wish in the first place. Madame Antoanet is a fraud. I’m sure of it. And yet, as I mentioned earlier, I’m tired of life.

Whatever! I’ll play along! Sure, the pendant won’t count being a child in the 80s and living with my parents and all as more than one wish, but it won’t matter because I said all that in theory, knowing full well the reality of the situation.And yet, I hold the wooden pendant tightly in my hands, as I say the words loudly, “I wish to be six years old, in the 1980s, living with my parents.”

Of course nothing happens! Why am I not surprised! It’s a no brainer that I’ll have to declare bankruptcy tomorrow, and that I’ll have to deal another day without my wife. Then it’s only a matter of time before I have to sell my home to move into a cheap apartment, probably with some beer guzzling weirdo.

With these thoughts heavy in my mind, I make my way to my bedroom, slowly crawling under the heavy blankets upon my bed. I’m tired. It’s been such a long day. One wouldn’t think a day at the carnival would be tedious, but it gave me a lot to think about. About life, about what’s important. It’s the simple things that are important, and with this thought in my mind I slowly fall asleep.

 

“Robert!” I hear the young voice of my mother calling from the kitchen. “Breakfast is ready.”

It’s a Saturday morning, at the start of spring. The sun’s shining upon me, illuminating the rocket ship and outer-space blankets on my bed. My mom didn’t need to call me for breakfast. I have been up for the last hour watching Saturday morning cartoons on my small TV.

During a commercial break, I quickly run out to get some freshly fixed pancakes, delightfully soaking in syrup and melted butter. I plead with my mom to let me have breakfast in my room. She agrees as long as I’m careful. Back in my room I watch brightly animated characters come to life, as I bite into soggy pancakes, causing an explosion of sweet flavors in my mouth. I rinse it down with a glass of equally sweet orange juice, an elixir of life if there ever was one. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

But my favorite cartoons don’t last all day, and pretty soon I’m outside in the backyard playing in the sandbox. I’m a king, creating my own kingdom, as I build my own castle, its turrets and its walls. Now, I’m no longer a king, but a god, as I create mountains, caves, and canyons around the castle. I finish it off by taking a hose and filling the canyons with water. Now there are rivers for the people to swim in.

I’m now tired of playing in the sandbox, but my parents garden catches my eye. The tomato plants, the rhubarb, the grape vines, the raspberry bushes and so forth make up more than just a garden. It’s a jungle full of wild beasts, and I am the explorer, bravely trudging through it. I’m glad my tent is still in there. My parents let me place a little tent in there that I can sleep in, if I promised to be careful. In this tent I find shelter, as I write down my observations of the jungle around me. I have everything I need; my binoculars, my flask of fruit juice, my net for catching bugs, my notebook, and a little bed in there to rest in. What will I see in the jungle? A tiger lurking about? Maybe some monkeys swinging from vines!

So much to do today. Later on my friends will want to have a squirt gun fight, or to go down and catch frogs by the creek. Maybe we’ll even make up some new game to play.

Logic is trying to tell me that I only have one day to enjoy this all before I have to face the responsibilities and demands of adult life. Yet this same logic is falling into pieces, only to be swept away by the carefree winds of childhood. Reality, for just one day, has to bow down to the magic of childhood. For today, childhood, a sense of wonder and joy, is king, in which the rules of stress, the rules of confines and conformity, don't apply. They are banished into the void of my empty adult life. I have one day to enjoy being a child again. One day to appreciate the simpler things in life. I plan to live it to the fullest. Because this is a gift that is more precious than any other. 



© Copyright 2017 Jonathan Scott Griffin. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Jonathan Scott Griffin

Popular Tags