Saturday, 24 November 2007
This story was placed third in a Short story Competition.
My mother used to say: If you wish upon the first star that appears at night, whatever you wish for will always come true.
I believed her once. But she's been cold in her grave now for nigh on thirty years. Me? well, I've become a grumpy old cynic, one who no longer believes in magic.
When does that happen exactly?
I don't recall going to bed one night believing in magic, in fairies, then waking up the next morning, thinking: Ha! Today's the day I Grow Up. Today's the day I don't believe in Once Upon A Time anymore, I don't believe in Happily Ever After.
No...it doesn't work like that.
It creeps up on you all unawares: bit by bit; stealthily; leaving you dry and arid like a desert.
The day after my mother died back in 1976, I tried again. I went out in the back garden as dusk was gathering, hugged my thin cardigan to my body - inadequate protection against the chill November air - and stared wide-eyed up into the darkness...waiting.
I stood there for fifteen minutes, teeth chattering. The neighbour's Jack Russell yapping at me from the other side of the fence. She came out once, Old Mary, to tell Trixie to stop making all that noise, then saw me standing in the shadows and hurried back indoors. Probably to tell her Bill that the death of my mother had addled my brain - why else would I be standing in the dark, in nightie and cardie, on a cold winter's night.
Anyway, I wished on that first star - the pole star I believe it's called - but my mother stayed dead: taken before her time. All I succeeded in doing was catch a chill which laid me up in bed for three days. Doctor Harker said it was a combination of stress, depression and under-eating. Bah...what do doctors know? I was up and about again within a week.
Lately I've felt the urge again. To wish upon a star. I think my mother, God bless her, got it wrong. I don't think it is the first star you wish on. No, I think it's the last...the very last star that appears in the night sky. After all, any-ole-body can easily spot the first star: there's nothing special about that. But the last star...ahh...now there's a completely different kettle of fish.
You try it.
You have to be a dedicated star-gazer to spot the very last star that winks into existence among the millions and trillions of other white twinkling dots.
Two weeks I've been trying. Two weeks I've been watching...waiting. When I eventually spot that last star...then I know my wish will come true.
The trouble is, my wish has changed. I no longer want my mother to become mortal once more; the days without her no longer pain me.
I am old myself now: old and tired of life.
Now I wish for the knight of death to carry me away on his ebony black stallion.
My mother was wrong.
I must keep searching for that final star....