Silence rang in my ears as I bent down to the fountain and hydrated my dry throat. My bag felt like the weight of the world on my back, my braces cut my tongue as it ran over them in boredom, my big square glasses were beginning to give me a migraine, but those couldn’t compare to the pain of the thoughts that raced through my mind. Getting pushed to the ground by the “popular kids” or getting shoved into the snack machine by the hot quarterback I was madly in love with didn’t bother me as much as something else. The general idea of being the school’s famous laughing stock didn’t exactly whip me into a joyful frenzy, and sometimes, I wonder.
I wonder what could have been, what should have been. Where I would have been right now if I turned the other way… if I made the right decision…
I remember that day quite clearly, considering the fact that I vowed I would never speak, cry over, or think of it again. I’d just go on with my life, robotic and regretful, wishing that I did make the right decision…
“You are so funny!” I laughed a little too loudly, my voice booming among the other giggles. I strutted my rehearsed sexy walk down the hallway to Mr. Smith’s history room with the cool kids, feeling on top of the world because I actually fit in. Finally.
“I know, right?” Josh slumped forward as he walked but still look like a top drawer underwear model. I grinned and glanced at him and found that he was checking me out with those sky blue eyes that I could cry over. My heart started pounding in my chest and I could feel the blood burning in my cheeks. G-d, he’s gorgeous, I thought in my head; I couldn’t stand his perfection. I don’t know what Chelsea was thinking when she said he’s a cheating jerk.
My grin suddenly dropped when Chelsea appeared in my thoughts. Chelsea. What was she going to think when she sees me with Josh or Melissa? I didn’t know and I suddenly felt a pang of nausea. It wasn’t easy being the bottom of the food chain. Trust me, I would know; I was there just yesterday. And Chelsea was laying there oblivious to the fact that I slid to the top in one day, but I knew she was going to figure it out sooner or later. And I was right.
“Danielle?” Chelsea’s voice echoed in the hallway and we all turned to face her. She had a mixed expression on her face; there was anger, confusion… pain. And it was painful just to see her like that, but my lips tightened to a straight line and I remained silent.
The next few minutes were painfully awkward, Chelsea looking at me, me looking at Chelsea, me looking at Josh, Josh looking at me. Almost desperate, he broke the silence with, “Nobody wants you here Chelsea; go and read.” I kept my frantic gasp in my chest as silence blanketed the hallway again.
When nobody moved (not me, not Josh, not Chelsea) I knew she was in trouble. But I also knew where I would be tomorrow if I protected her, like I wanted to. I stayed still… no, more than still. Stiff. I kept unnaturally stiff until I noticed a sudden movement at the side of my eye. I whipped my head around to reveal Josh, beginning to show that dangerous spark in his eye. He began to stomp towards her with that jock-like strut… exactly how he would stomp to anyone before he goes all Josh Rubin on them…
“No!” I exclaimed frantically before I could stop myself, acting on instinct. I positioned my body between Chelsea and Josh and breathed, “Stop”, a little more gently. My chest heaved like I just sprinted a mile in five minutes; I was never that much of an athlete and the anxiety mounted on my shoulders didn’t exactly help. We were silent for a long moment, staring at each other, until the realization of my actions hit me.
My breath sped and my mind raced, desperately trying to figure out what to do next. Even though, I knew that I’d already passed the point of no return, broke the unspoken law, turned to the dark side. At least there would be cookies.
Josh seemed exasperated. “Well, I guess I was wrong about you, Danielle.” He wrapped his arm around Melissa’s chilled shoulders and pivoted his heal.
“Wait,” I exclaimed, tears rolling down my cheek silently. Josh and Melissa turned back around to face us. Melissa had a smirk on her perfectly plumped lips and I had a sudden impulsive need to brat-slap it right off. But I knew that part would have to wait.
Josh shrugged and stepped away from Melissa for a mere second. “You have one more chance, Danielle,” Josh stared at me, his crystal eyes slightly amused, but there was a hint of pity deep under the macho-man façade. Inside, I had a huge feeling that he was just some big softy searching for a pillow to squeeze. But that was pretty deep inside. I suddenly felt angry at him, and angry at me, and angry at pretty much everything else. The fact that Josh treated me like I was some toy and on the other hand was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever laid eyes on didn’t exactly boost my satisfaction level to the maximum. And the fact that Chelsea was the kindest, most fragile, most gentle person I’ve ever met shoved the bar down to a maybe a five, and the fact that I got myself into this mess beat the record and the bar fell down to a flat zero. And even more than that, the fact that I was born, and the A-list kids reminding me to regret almost every day, definitely shoved it into the negatives. “One more chance,” Josh reminded me.
My eyes fixed their gaze on Josh. Like I said, he was the king of the school, and the hottest guy I’d ever met. He was totally charming, like the prince in a fairytale. He’d definitely had the looks for it, and I could any day imagine him in that foxy silver spandex and a cape. The one catch was that the real Prince Charming didn’t leave it up to the damsel in distress. He didn’t have options.
At the moment, Prince Charming (Josh) was a self-righteous jerk that the damsel (me) wanted to kick right below the belt. Prince Charming right then was very low on my admiration list, and was a big portion of the reason my satisfaction bar hit the negatives.
I glanced to Chelsea, who too had painful tears in her wide eyes. I couldn’t stand this damsel in pain going for the fact that I was almost like her body guard. Ever since second grade, when a bunch of bratty third graders were messing with Chelsea and I actually bit them, we have been inseparable. We were the closest friends, and, by all means, we only had each other. We were beyond dorky, like the kind of people that would be walking past a guy with a tucked in polo shirt and knee-highs and he would say, ‘What noobs.’ But I would have made the best popular girl, subtracting my glasses and wardrobe. With my personality? That was the reason I went for it, why I was in that position there and then. However, Chelsea was the kind of lay low, go with the flow kind of girl, and that’s why I couldn’t let anyone hurt her. She couldn’t take care of herself. And that wasn’t about to change, so nothing else was.
“No,” I replied firmly, new hope burning in Chelsea’s eyes. “Don’t you have someone to beat up Josh?”
He laughed tauntingly and his arm wrapped back around Melissa’s shoulders. “Yeah, but you’re momentarily off the list so beat it before I change my mind.”
I strutted off with Chelsea and when we were out of eye’s reach, she grinned at me, her eyes grateful. I sighed and put on the mask I had on for the past seven years, again pretending that I was as happy as she was. But I knew that all of my chances of “happy” were lost…
RING RING RING!! The sound of the school bell shattered the flash-back I was lost in. Sighing, I turned around and ambled to fifth period as remorseful as ever.
I finished the day just like that, almost like other days, but the pain multiplied by dozens. I swore to myself I would never bring up that day (the terrible occasion that occurred almost three years back) and now that the event was fresh in my mind, so was the tenderness of the topic. It’s hard to say if I should remember it; if I should absorb and realize the consequence of my actions. But, I think I absorbed quite a lot while I spent the next three summers with a tissue in my hand and tears in my eyes.
So anyway, the school day concluded with another trip to the principal’s office: dazing off in class, not listening, talking back to the teachers. Not that anybody actually cared.
So, I ambled home by myself – since Chelsea lives in the opposite direction –trying fiercely to get the thought out of my mind, and failing. The attempt was about as good as trying to tear a skyscraper down with your bare hands; I was hopeless after maybe a minute. But I still didn’t let it overpower me. I may have been a lot of things, a witch with a capitol “B” being one of the words used most often, but I wasn’t weak. And just because that terrible memory was powerful, so was I.
“Mom, I’m home,” I cried out as I shut the cherry-wood door behind me. I hung my thick North Face on sofa neighboring the entrance and shivered violently as the blistering cold was released from my system. Now warm and in an oddly cheerful mood, I called out again, “Mom?”
I heard my mother’s delicate footsteps bouncing gently off and on each stair. My mom must have been SO PROUD to be my parent (thick sarcasm). Rose – my mom – was a retired model, resigning from her much loved job just to care for me as a baby. With her thick, wavy, brunette hair, slender body, and perfectly constructed face, I personally think she was the most beautiful woman out there. She almost always appeared as if she were about to strut down the runway any minute, while I on the other hand, appeared unworthy of even a backstage assistant.
“Hey sweetie,” she hopped off the last step with a grin on her lips and danced over to me to pull me into a hug. Rose always acted like this; she was always in high spirits. Growing up with only her in my life, it was easy to say that for a pessimist, I was pretty optimistic. “How was your day?”
“Not great,” I shrugged and dragged my feet to the kitchen.
“Why?” I heard my mother’s high, concerned voice right in back of me as I grabbed an orange Gatorade out of the fridge.
I shrugged again and sipped my energy drink. “It’s complicated.”
Rose nodded knowingly, understanding ‘complicated’. She leaned against the door hinge and crossed her arms, now officially making the first motherly move she’s made today. “You’re principal called me today,” she said quietly after a few moments.
I nodded and took another sip. “And?”
Rose threw her arms up, exasperated. “And?? And I don’t know what to do with you, Danielle!”
I stared at her, shocked by her outburst. The last time she flared up like that was when I was about four and decided to take her Honda out for a stroll. Even then, she overflowed with rage but then simmered back down and apologized after a few short moments. But now, it seemed like she could furiously tear me apart limb from limb, so I decided not to talk back this time.
Rose watched my face, waiting dangerously impatient for a reaction. She seemed nothing like the woman I saw earlier that day, that’s for sure. “Aren’t you going to say something? Maybe brat back, like you always do to me? Maybe like you always do to everyone?”
This broke any barrier holding me back. Outraged, my voice boomed at the same high volume as my mothers. “I don’t do it everyone, Mom,” my hands curled up into fists and my voice displayed obvious disgust at the sound her name. “Just arrogant, selfish brats who desperately deserve it. Like you!” I know this was going a little too far, but when did I not go too far? I was currently sinking down to the bottom of the ocean with a huge banner hanging around my neck that said, “Epic Fail.”And though I knew I practically hit the bottom years ago, my attitude for one would never change. I was the thorn on the rose, but imagine the rose with frizzy hair and huge glasses. Not much of a rose, right? Yeah, well, that’s the definition of Danielle Riffkin.
She gasped at this, and then seemed ten times as angry as before. Before she got the satisfying opportunity to hit something – that something being me – she growled, “Go. To. Your. Room.” I shot her one last look of my deluxe “You’re such a pain the butt” expression before I stomped off to my room.
When I entered I slammed the door shut and pressed the lock down twice as hard as I would have needed to. I threw myself onto my bed and screamed furiously into my pillow. Tears ran like rivers down my cheeks and soaked my head rest, and when it was too drenched, I flipped it over and did the same.
Suddenly, I got an abrupt feeling that this was all because I’m not popular. I sat up on my bed, tears still rolling down my cheeks and falling into my lap as realization washed through me. If I were popular like she was, then this would have never happened. On a sudden impulse, I was millions of times angrier than I was subsequently. Bursting with pure anguish, I stood up and stomped to the purple bookshelf at the side of my desk and impatiently tried to find a certain book. When I did, obviously after a few groans of frustration, I threw the book on my bed and ran to it as well.
Leaping onto the bed myself, I rapidly opened the Wishing book I got as a gift from my odd aunt for my seventh birthday. I never actually noticed it before or took the time to read it myself, but now, I did.
I flipped to the “Genie” section and in italic letters was a chant to call upon a genie. It wasn’t like I actually believed in that kind of stuff, but this at least gave me a little bit of hope and something to burn minutes with. I ran to my dresser and yanked open the door, my eyes searching for the crystal amulet that came with this book. I bent to floor and my fingers roamed the back of the closet until they clasped around a tiny necklace that would have been pretty – completely gorgeous, actually – if it wasn’t given to me by such a creep. Well, I’m hardly the one to speak, but Aunt Lyne called herself a witch. I remembered her saying that I was a witch to, or at least that was what I was going to become. One day.
I grasped tightly around the beautifully colored amulet, closed my eyes, and brought my fist to my lips, just as the book instructed. After muttering a prayer somehow imprinted to my mind as a young child, I called out in singsong:
“To call upon you, now I must
To give me hope, in you, I trust
Don’t ignore and don’t you haunt
Just help me get me what I want
Give me riches, take my chore
Give me everything I ask for
Genie, far beyond, I see
Genie, Genie, come to me”
I finished the dumb chant with a wide yawn, the anger I held in my chest suddenly drained. However, all the open space was filled with exhaustion, so I laid my head down on the pillow and closed my eyes. Before I knew it, I drifted off into an easy, deep sleep…
I woke with a start, panting, and glanced around me, disoriented. And then I remembered the fight, the book, the chant…
Randomly, I jerked my head to the window, just to find a grinning black cat sitting on the edge. It easily blended in with the shadows; its night black coat looked as if it were a part of the shadows. In other circumstances, I would have cringed away from the unlucky creature in fear, but the small cat gave off a calming, more or less cheerful aura. It was almost hypnotizing, and I instantly fell for it. My guard fell, momentarily… at least I hoped momentarily.
“Hey, black cat,” mumbled, a sudden need washing over me to reach out to the animal. I stopped myself, though, and hauled my arm back to my body and held it near my chest. I eyed the cat warily, though I still felt abnormally calm. “What’s your name?”
“Meowwww” the cat cooed oddly, its voice stirring weird sensations in the bottom of the stomach.
“Oh, right, you can’t talk,” I mumbled, mostly to myself, trying hastily to convince me cats can’t talk before I convince myself I’m crazy. I giggled, a little hysterically. “Are you the genie?”
The Black Cat just meowed once more and leaped down from my window to the cold, rough gravel floors below.
I stared at the spot the Black Cat sat just moments ago, as my mind wondered freely. Is it possible that this small creature could be the genie? If it were, why was it in the form of a cat? Did I miss my chance of wishing? Was I supposed to make my wishes when it was here??
I drew my pondering to an abrupt stop. This was crazy; there was no genie, and it certainly wasn’t the cat. This was all just… a weird coincidence. Yes, that’s it. It’s just a coincidence.
I turned my head to my bright alarm clock at the side of my bed and checked the time. 3:30?? I had to get back to bed. I let out a massive yawn and allowed my head to fall back to my pillow. I turned to my side so that my left cheek was pressing against cushion and thought about this some more. Trying so hard to convince myself this was all merely a coincidence kept me tossing and turning all night, leaving me restless until the morning.
The whole night, I kept glancing at my clock, desperately trying to fall asleep while my mind was still filled with unanswered questions. So much for sleep before a big day.
All the ranting in my mind screeched to a halt. Big day? What was I talking about? It was Saturday, and on Saturday I chill. No Saturday is a big day for me. I groaned and flipped myself so I was lying on my back. I must have been worn-out. I shut my eyes and simply waited for the morning to arrive.
I dragged my feet out of bed far before I would have woken up on any other Saturday. I was dead tired, but I didn’t actually fall asleep at all last night, not after the Black Cat gave me a visit.
The Black Cat. I rolled my eyes at the thought and groaned in mental frustration. If that dumb cat didn’t freak me out last night, I would have gotten some shut-eye and wouldn’t have felt half as rotten as I did then. He – it – so wasn’t the genie; the genie didn’t even exist! There was no genie. None, caput, Zippo, it didn’t exist.
The more I tried to convince myself I was stupid for even considering genies exist in general, the more I actually believed it. Weird, I know, but something was different about the essence of the house today; something was going to happen.
Pushing aside my foolish thoughts, I stumbled to the bathroom and took care of my morning needs. When I was all clean and felt some-what decent, I strolled down the staircase, stumbling over steps as I went; I was still extremely tired. When my feet hit the floor, I walked over to the kitchen and found a note on the counter. From my mother.
Morning. Had to leave early to work. Sorry about yesterday. Call me
when you’re up. Love you.
Great. I rolled my eyes and crumpled up the note. I’ll pass on calling her. I was still pretty annoyed she flipped on me yesterday and I was in no mood to talk to anyone at all. Throwing the note out, I heard the doorbell ring, and I froze. My heart skipped a beat; no one ever rang our doorbell, especially when my mother was not there.
I took stealthy steps to the couch eyeing the door warily, and then curled into a ball. I had no idea why I was acting so frightened, but getting calls or mail or people at the door was so unusual for us I didn’t know how to act.
All the while, the doorbell rung three times more, and at the fourth, unnatural composure washed over me. Though I felt much more peaceful and restrained, it was like luminescent light; it was fake. Beyond the peace and serenity, I still felt as unbelievably frightened as before; just the feelings I acted upon were completely different. It was like I landed in an episode of the Twilight Zone and I could nearly hear that freaky alien music in the background. Almost as if I were controlled by another person, I stood and casually walked to the cherry-wood door. My hand twisted the lock until I heard the click then grasped the knob. My heart beating ferociously fast and my appearances seeming I were perfectly fine, I twisted the knob and opened the door to reveal…
A man. A short man, maybe in his early forties. His head was shiny and bald, and it reached maybe up to my shoulders if I were barefoot. He was wearing a black tuxedo, appearing as a pretty wealthy man, with a grin on his face. A grin that almost looked identical to that of a black cat…
“Hi, sweetheart!” His cheery voice suddenly reassured me that he was harmless, though it stirred odd, mixed feelings at the bottom of my stomach.
“Hello,” I replied, my voice and my face expressionless. “Who are you?”
Mr. Bald and Nameless extended his hand in a greeting gesture, probably for a handshake. “My name is Mr. Jimmy Hopkins, and I work for the G3W Organization in Georgia.”
“G3W?” I kept my hands stiffly at my sides so he brought his hand down, too.
“Yes,” He replied. “It’s a foundation of luck. Ones give in their name and we pick out of a hat. The name we pick – randomly of course – gets a prize.”
My eyebrows knitted together. “But I never requested to put my name in for this.”
Mr. Hopkins smiled slightly, his eyes hypnotizing. “Yes, you did,” his voice replied soothingly.
Those eyes, those dark eyes, I could fall into them, I was falling into them. Deeper and deeper until… I remembered. Of course I put my name in. I wanted to win, and I put my name it. Deep inside, a fraction of a part of me believed I didn’t request my name in the raffle; how crazy. Of course I did!
“Yes,” I responded, my voice once again expressionless. “I wanted my name to be in the raffle.”
Jimmy Hopkins laughed boomingly as if I said that the word “apple” starts with “a”. He chuckled, “Of course you did, honey. Now,” he clasped his hands together. “Would you like to know what your prize is?” I nodded. Mr. Hopkins reached down to his side and opened his black work case. He kept rummaging through it for a while and when he hauled his hand back out, he was grasping a small black box. His face displayed a lopsided smile as he handed it to me.
I reached out wonderingly and my fingers grasped around the black box. It was smooth as glass, and only then did I realize it was glass, and was tinted black. I flipped it around my hands a couple times, my eyebrows knitting together again. “This is it?”
He chuckled lightly and smiled. “Open it.”
My eyes filled with confusion as I tugged lightly on the side of the box. The lid rose a bit, and I did the same thing only harder. This time, the lid rose completely.
When the lid was off and the content of the box was displayed, I gasped. It was, by far, the most beautiful necklace I’ve ever seen in my life. In the middle of two small diamonds was a large blood-red jewel, held in place by a sterling silver chain. My eyes filled with wonder as I hesitantly reached down and traced the outside of the ruby jewel with my pointer finger. It must have been made in the 1800s; you wouldn’t find handmade pieces like this now-a-days. I giggled in awe. “Is it real?” I asked the man grinning up at me.
“Yes, it is,” he purred, almost a bit smugly. “It was made in the early 1800s by neglected magicians and genies, ones the world forgot.” I kept staring at the gorgeous piece of jewelry in admiration, and Mr. Hopkins continued. “To make it, it was mixed with all the wondrous elements in the world: love, beauty, magic. Six magicians had to put work into making this necklace – and others like this, but those aren’t around anymore – so all of the things those six magic workers think are beautiful would be put into it. After this was created, others were made, making this the original piece.”
I jerked my head down. “The original piece?”
Jimmy Hopkins nodded. “So you can see how rare this must be. Why don’t you try it on?” A grin suddenly pulled on my lips and I nodded eagerly. As gentle as I could, I slid my hand under the beautiful chest-piece and pulled it up until no part of the chain was still in the box. Grinning, I nearly skipped to the full length mirror neighboring the grey couch. “Let me help you,” the kind man suggested and followed me towards the mirror. His leather boots made tapping sounds on the waxed wood of my house, and the way that he walked made him appear taller than he actually was.
I bent down on my knees so that he could have access to my neck. As I pulled up my thick wavy hair, Mr. Hopkins bent forwards and clicked the necklace around my neck. I let my hair fall back down and stared at myself, smiling slightly, in the mirror. “It was made for you,” the man mumbled in my ear behind me, though I didn’t need much convincing. Despite the fact that I got mesmerized by it in the box, it wasn’t half as beautiful as it was on me. Seeing I was rendered speechless, Mr. Hopkins murmured, “You know, it is said to grant you three wishes.”
All my awe and wonder came to an abrupt stop, as did my heart for a brief moment. I averted my eyes to his as I stood back up. “Three wishes?” The man nodded. Almost hysterically, I giggled, “It’s just a myth. Nobody actually believes in that stuff anymore.”
His face showed a slightly amused expression, as if he heard what I said a million times. Though only in his early forties, there was wisdom about him, about his eyes, ancient wisdom, like he’s been around for more than his lifetime. Jimmy Hopkins shrugged as he picked up his work case and started towards the door. “Maybe, maybe not.” I didn’t move from my spot, I just kept staring at this peculiar man until his hand was on the knob and he glanced towards me. When his eyes met mine, there was no more amusement; he was all serious. “Just see past the happiness of your horizon. Good day, Miss Danielle.” Jimmy Hopkins stepped to the ground outside and shut the door behind him.
I stood there for several minutes, staring at the door this odd little man shut. What he said kept replaying in my mind over and over again, “Just see past the happiness of your horizon.” What was he talking about? This man was weird. I shivered to shake off what just happened and turned back to the mirror.
Though that little man, Jimmy Hopkins, was pure creepy, he was right. This necklace was made for me; the color of the jewel was fit for my skin type and made my eyes look exquisite under the luminescent light of the house. However, just as I brought my hand up to touch the ruby, all the memories rushed back to my mind. The fight last night, the choice three years ago, the reason my life was at its worst. “You know, it is said to grant you three wishes”, the man had said. Maybe… No, this was foolish. That man was NOT the genie, and this thing did NOT grant me three wishes. There, end of story. But, I guess if it won’t work, what’ve I got to lose?
I sighed and gave in to dumb part of my mind. It was right though; if I knew that nothing was going to happen, then what was the point of not giving it a shot for fun? Breathing in one last sigh I shut my eyes and called out, “I wish I had made the right decision three years ago.”
All of a sudden, memories rushed through my head. Not the fight or the events that made my life depressing and dull, but the happy times. The time when Chelsea and I crossed the George Washington Bridge for the first time, the time when I lost my first tooth and Chelsea skipped with me to the nurse’s office; all the happy times filled my mind. Music, and love, and joy, and spirit swirled around me, blinding me from the dullness of my everyday life. I felt so full of happiness and life and magic that I never wanted it to stop. And when I opened my eyes again, I was at school.
The aftershock of my momentary highness still lived in my heart as I tried to figure out what the heck was going on. The last time I remembered, it was a Saturday and I was at home. I glanced around myself; Yep, it was the school. Kids around me were rushing to their next period, and on a normal school day, I would have been doing the same.
Chelsea appeared in the corner of my eye and I ran to her. Coming up behind her, I exclaimed over the loudness of our peers’ footsteps, “Chelsea, what’s going on?”
Chelsea swirled around, surprise in her eyes, and I later figured out that it was surprise someone actually called her name. When she saw it was me that called it, she cringed back against the lockers, her eyes filled with fear.
My eyebrows knit together in confusion. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry, Miss Danielle!” she exclaimed, shaking. Sorry for what? “I’m sorry; please don’t hurt me.”
Hurt her? I would never hurt her! What was going on??
“Hey, Danielle!” I heard a voice call my name at the other side of the hallway. I jerked my head around to reveal Melissa, looking glad to see me. She was wearing tight jeans and an Abercrombie shirt and looked as gorgeous as ever. “Come on!”
When glanced back at Chelsea, I found her scampering the other way, trying to get away from me. Weird. I shrugged and ambled over to Melissa, still confused about why she seemed so content to see me. When I arrived by her side, I demanded, “What do you want, Melissa?”
She stared at me with surprise and humiliation. “Are you mad at me?” she breathed, actually looking heartbroken and shocked.
Just for the sake of what was going on, I replied, “No,” and watched a grin grow on her rosy lips.
“Good,” she squeaked blissfully and fell into a story about how Remona and Brian kissed and how he turned on her and blah blah blah. And then she went into how her and Josh almost broke Chelsea’s arm…
I mostly ignored the part that they “almost broke Chelsea’s arm” and jerked my head to her as she said Josh’s name. Josh, I thought, even mesmerized by his name. Oh, I love you Josh.
“So he wants to take you out tomorrow,” Chelsea stated matter-of-factly.
My eyes widened and I glanced at her. “Josh wants to take me out?”
Melissa laughed. “It’s good you’re talking; you were so quiet before.” She waited for me to reply, but then answered my question after a few silent moments. “Well yeah, of course. I mean, he is your boyfriend.”
My jaw dropped and the world went silent. I couldn’t even speak. Josh was my boyfriend? When did this happen? And why the heck didn’t I know about it?? This was just a joke; I know it. “Haha, funny Melissa,” I responded sarcastically.
Melisa glanced at me, a bit concerned but more freaked out. “Are you ok, Danielle?”
Actually, I wasn’t. This whole thing got me scared and confused, and I didn’t really know what to do, so I went along with it. “Yeah,” I lied. “I’m fine.”
We walked silently until we came to where Melissa and I had to part. “Ok, well, save me a seat at lunch,” Melissa waved to say goodbye then turned around to walk into class. “Oh,” she glanced back. “I like your necklace by the way.”
I froze in place, my eyes wide and my lips silent. When I had access to my body again, I ran to the bathroom as fast as I good. I burst through the pink doors and scampered into the big stall with the mirror. Locking the door behind me, I stared at girl gaping back at me. My glasses were gone, and I could feel contacts in my eyes. I had make-up, something that I never wore before; I hated it, and I thought it was a waste of time and money. I was wearing black dance pants and Uggs, and a huge sweatshirt that said, “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” My hair was pulled into a half ponytail, my nails were bright pink, and my lips were smeared in clear gloss, but most importantly, a beautiful necklace hung from my neck.
Realization hit me like a car running into a brick wall. That man, that short, bald man whose eyes hypnotized me, who claimed his name was Jimmy Hopkins, was the genie. And the G3W Organization? It was actually the Give 3 Wishes Organization. How could I have not caught that? It was so obvious! Insanely smart, but obvious. And the necklace that he gave me, the beautiful necklace, created by six washed-up magicians and the most beautiful elements of the world, offered me three wishes. And the first was granted.
Now understanding the basics of the situation, I also understood the package deal. Chelsea hated me and feared me, Josh loved me, my mom loved me, Melissa – of all people – loved me; the good totally outweighed the bad. With one more thing to do – and scampering off and doing it – happiness was growing in my heart. It was like I got slapped in the face, and when I opened my eyes, reality hit me; it was better than anything I’ve ever felt. Never before in my life have I wanted to be slapped so badly.
Not only now was I sprinting to my next period class, I was also sprinting to find out the last piece of information I needed. When I jumped into Mr. Smith’s history class panting and ten minutes late, you could guess what position I was in. Blushing and apologizing, my eyes wandered around the room for a free seat.
“Over here,” a deep voice called and I jerked my head to reveal Josh, his hands waving in a greeting gesture. I ambled over to him and pulled out the chair from under the desk next to him. Sitting down, he whispered, “Saved you a seat.”
I smiled. “Thanks,” was whispered in the same voice level he did.
He shrugged, amused. “Nothing to it, baby.”
My heart skipped a beat and I blushed. Baby? I guess Melissa wasn’t kidding. I bent down to my bag to pull out my notebook and when I sat upright again, a note was on my desk. It said: This Saturday, 7:30. After reading it, I glanced up at him, smiling and confused.
He noticed the confusion in my eyes. “This Saturday, my place. My parents are out, and I’m having a huge house party,” he leaned towards me so that his face was just inches from mine. “And,” he breathed, “What’s the point of making one if you won’t be there?” His breath smelled like mint Tic Tacs and got me temporarily high.
“Josh and Danielle!” Mr. Smith exclaimed, his shunning voice snapping me out of my trip to the moon. The whole class got silent and stared at us. “Would you guys care to get a room?” Everyone burst out in giggles while I, on the other hand, blushed a deep pink.
“Yes, actually, we would love that; thank you,” Josh replied in an amused tone. I shot him an are-you-serious face and he winked at me in response.
Mr. Smith could see that Josh was toying with him, and he didn’t exactly like that. At the moment, the balding teacher was rendered speechless, and squeaky sounds came from his lips. But when he could talk again, man, did he talk.
“MR. JOSH MICHEALS,” Mr. Smith barked dangerously. “GO TO THE PRINCIPALS OFFICE NOW!” We were all clearly astonished by his outburst, but we all also knew what affect Josh could leave on anybody. Josh just smirked, clearly amused, and picked up his backpack. Pecking me on the lips, he bowed to the furious teacher in mock respect and then strut out the door.
Some of us giggled, some of us smirked, some of us blew smoke out of our ears in outstanding rage, but some of us, like me, couldn’t hear anyone else. I was in my own little world, my own little heaven; Josh kissed me. And he acted like it was nothing, like it wasn’t our first kiss. You know what that means? That means we kissed before. But not just any kiss. Our first kiss.
Mixed expressions played through my heart; I was extremely, unbelievably, happy that he kissed me, I was angry that I missed our first kiss, I was confused about something…
Oh, right. I forgot; I had to ask the teacher the last piece of info I needed. Raising my hand, I hoped he wouldn’t take his rage of my boyfriend out on me.
“Yes, Miss Riffkin?” he sounded a little bit too controlled to be calm, but I guess it’s better than pure anguish.
“What’s today’s date?” I pressed
He was caught off guard at the question; he probably thought I was going to give some type of Josh-Micheals question. “It’s, uh, the twenty first.”
“I mean, the year.”
He stared at me like I was stupid, but I couldn’t have expected anything more than that; for all that they know, this was my life yesterday, and the day before that, etc. “Are you ok, Danielle?”
I rolled my eyes impatiently. “I’m fine, Mr. Smith. Could you please just answer the question?” I pressed harder, wishing I could just get this over with; like ripping off a band-aid.
“It’s 2009, Danielle.”
I sighed, letting out the breath I’d been holding in since I got here. Though, I still felt a bit uneasy about this; I had been living a life for three years that I didn’t even know I was a part of. And even though it was totally better than anything I would have ever imagined, I wished I could have been here since three years ago. Not literally, though; I still had three wishes in store for me.
So, that’s how my life went for the next week; Chelsea was cringing away from me in fear – the only thing I didn’t like about this package deal –, Melissa and the rest of the populars were my best friends (I was loved by everyone) but most importantly, I was loved by Josh. We held hands in public, we kissed, we passed notes in class; anything I would have wanted, I got.
I went over Melissa’s house on Saturday morning to get ready for Josh’s party. We went to the mall and shopped for hot clothes, and did each other’s make-up and everything I missed out on for three years. It was more fun than I could have imagined. Not once was I held back on old regrets like living up to Chelsea’s expectations and protecting her every second of my life. I was done with that.
When it was time to go to the party, we were already in “party” mode; we blasted music in the car, opened the car windows and screamed at kids on the streets and hot guys in their car, and when we arrived at Josh’s house, we were ready to kick it.
We practically skipped to the front door, cracking up about some old guy telling us to shut up in the car. When we rang the doorbell and stepped into the house, we realized the party just began for us.
The night flew by with us dancing, partying, chugging down some diet Coke. Almost halfway through the night, I lingered off, trying to find the bathroom. But that’s not what I found.
I stumbled into a bedroom on the second floor to see if a bathroom was in there. Instead, I found Josh kissing Julie Markers from sixth period.
Staring at them, the world spun around me and I felt nauseous. Josh was with Julie. Josh is a cheating jerk, I remembered someone told me a while ago. And that someone was right.
“Josh?” I croaked as he and Julie jerked their faces to me.
He immediately jumped away from Julie. “Oh, uh, hey baby.”
I felt dangerous now. Like I could kill. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks as I growled, “Don’t you call me baby. I hate you!”
I turned and started to stomp away but he caught my hand. “Danielle, don’t. I’m sorry; it’ll never happen again.”
I jerked my hand away from his. “How can I believe that Josh?” I was nearly yelling, and right in his face. “You did it once, why can’t you do it again? And how can I believe that you didn’t do it before? You’re pathetic, Josh.” Again, I started to leave, but again, he caught my wrist and held it tight. “Danielle, believe me, I won’t.”
“No!” I screamed. “I hate you! I wish you were dead!” And only then did I realize I was wearing a necklace with diamonds and a blood-red jewel in the center.
Watching his eyes fade as all the elements of beauty swirled around me once more made the joy and music and happiness and life not as blissful. What have I done?
When I hit reality once more, I was again at the party. I was in the same position, the same time, the same place as I was before I made my second wish. Except, the only thing different was that Josh was not standing in front of me. I sprinted into the room I was in subsequently and noticed Julie sitting on the bed, bored.
“Where’s Josh?” I asked her frantically. When she merely shrugged, I grabbed those shoulders and shook her. “Where is Josh??” I pressed harder, shaking her violently.
Julie threw up her hands in a gesture of innocence. “I don’t know! Honestly, I don’t know! The last time I saw him, he ran after you.”
My hands fell from her shoulders as I realized the situation; Josh was missing, and was dead. My heart beat at an outstanding speed and I felt like I could pass out any second. My only instinct was to run home and cry to my pillow. And that’s exactly what I did.
Well, minus the running part. Melissa drove me home, then drove herself back to the party. She really wasn’t as bad as I thought she was. When I arrived at my house, I ran past my concerned mother and right onto my bed. For at least an hour after that, I cried unstoppably to my pillow, more than I cried when I and Rose fought, more than I cried three years ago when I made the right decision. Which at the moment, didn’t feel so right.
After a while, my cries simmered down to silent tears, though those, too, were unstoppable. Almost falling asleep, my head slowly moved to the right as it hit the corner of a book. Instantly, I woke back up and stared at the large – and I thought cursed – ties of the book. Even without reading the cover, I knew what it was and threw it to the wall, screaming in hate. I hated it, I hated it, I hated it.
Somehow, through all that rage and frustration, I managed to fall asleep. In the morning, I woke up and heard my mother arguing with someone on the phone. It’s probably some work call, I thought as I shut my eyes closed again. However, when she screamed, “She didn’t kill him!” that pretty much did the trick. Practically falling out of bed, I bolted down to the kitchen.
Rose was getting numerous calls at the same time, and looked about ten years older. When she saw me, expressions flicked in her eyes: anger, wonder, confusion, fear. “Did you do it?” she asked quietly.
“Do what?” I was honestly confused, though a part of me knew what she was referring to.
“Oh, don’t you pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about,” she shrieked. “Did you kill Josh Micheals?”
I almost choked on my own scared laughter. “Did I kill Josh Micheals?” I rolled the phrase around in my tongue. “Did I kill Josh Micheals?” Would I actually call what I did murder? I don’t know. Technically, I didn’t physically murder Josh, however I caused his death. The thought of me murdering anyone in general queued nausea, and Josh Micheals in particular would make me kill myself.
“Well, did you?”
“Mom,” I replied, almost screaming. “I love him! Why would I kill him?”
Rose kept quiet for a moment. When she talked again, I noticed she had much more self control than I ever had. “Well he’s dead,” she replied, quieter than before. “And everyone thinks you killed him.”
“Why would they think that?” I asked, tears once again forming in my eyes. Half of it was because Josh was dead, and the other half was because I did kill him. That was my conclusion. I murdered my love.
“Because you were last seen with him.”
I rubbed my face in my hands and sobbed quietly to myself. “I have to go take a drive. I’m taking your car.”
Rose didn’t answer, for she was in her own form of misery herself. Her own daughter being accused of committing murder? Never showed up in the parental guides.
I grabbed the keys from the kitchen and raced to the car. I sat inside it quietly for a moment, then put the keys into the engine, then drove. I skipped miles fast, at the speed I was at, and all the while not making a single noise, not showing a single expression.
After a couple of silent minutes, I decided to stop by Melissa’s house. When I arrived and rang the doorbell, Melissa opened the door, looking terrible. Her hair was messy, her eyes were crimson, and she looked like she was at the point of suicide. “You killed him, didn’t you?” She whispered. I didn’t answer and then she pushed me. “Didn’t you?!” She screamed. I shook my head, tears falling from my eyes. “How could you? You’re a murderer! Ger away from here, Danielle; I never want to see you again.” Sobbing and hurt, I rushed to the car and backed out of the driveway. Watching Melissa break down like that made me want to die.
I had a sudden urge to go see Chelsea. I knew where she lived by heart, since we hung out almost every day. Well, at least we did before I made my first wish. I drove into the driveway and practically ran to the front door. I frantically rang the doorbell numbers of times until she opened it.
“Chelsea,” I cried and pulled her into a hug. I sobbed to her, though she seemed scared I was within a ten mile radius of her.
When I backed off, she eyed me warily. “What are you doing here, Danielle?”
“I came to see my best friend, that’s what!”
She stayed silent for a few moments, and then spoke again. “You’re not my best friend, Danielle. You weren’t for three years. Are you ok?”
“No!” I cried. “I wished you weren’t my best friend, and then it happened! Chelsea, you have to believe me, you’re my best friend. I love you! I miss you! Just a few days ago we were best friends! Don’t you believe me?”
She took a few steps back, frightened. “I believe you, Danielle.” Though, from her voice, I could tell that the only thing she believed was that I belonged in a mental institution.
I screamed to the world in frustration and raced back to the car. I drove far, stopping in Josh’s driveway. Through the window, I saw his mother sobbing in Josh’s room and putting his shirt in a box. I couldn’t imagine the pain she must have been feeling, to know that her son, her baby, will never come back to her.
I sobbed harder though silently as I backed out of the driveway and drove miles away. I passed cities, towns, people. Living people, people who are still full of life. People who can experience happiness and college and marriage. I stopped in a deserted parking lot somewhere in San Francisco and rested my head on the steering wheel.
I couldn’t take anymore of this havoc. I missed my old life; I missed Chelsea, I missed Melissa hating me, I Josh being alive, I missed being the bottom of the food chain. Softly and almost out of my own ear’s reach, I whispered, “I wish none of this ever happened.”
And for the last time, all of the most beautiful elements of the world spun around me, sparkling and glimmering, and I felt as full of life and as heavenly as ever. I saw images of happiness and peace and love and drowned into a river of joy. Drowned, and drowned, until I saw only darkness…
My eyes flew open and I sat up in bed. I looked around myself warily; I was in my room, it was night, and sitting on my window sill was a grinning black cat…