Holly hit my arm. “Earth to Athena! Hullooo!” She waved a hand in front of my vision, startling me.
I blinked a few times. “Huh?”
“I said, let’s go over to my house and take a look at your new book, okay?”
Nodding, I moved to leave then pointed at Francisco. “Remember you’re going to my house tomorrow after school to work on our science project. ”
Holly added, “Four PM sharp! And don’t forget the snacks.”
“I won’t leave you damsels in a pit of despair.” He bowed with a flourish of his hand.
Holly rolled her eyes. “What-EVER.”
Whatever was right. Francisco and I hung our hopes on Holly’s giant brain of scientific information. I was great at art, Francisco was talented at marital arts, but Holly was supreme with facts and information. She was like a walking thesaurus, smoogle, and Simipedia all rolled into one.
“Later, San Fran,” Holly said, walking out the door.
I loved visiting Holly’s house. Everything about it whispered “home” to me. The hundred year old, 3 story house sat across from the town square of Brindleton Bay, walking distance from the bookstore. On the outside, it looked like an old Victorian inn, but on the inside, it felt as if I’d stepped into a bohemian dream.
As we entered, Holly’s mom, Desiree, greeted us, so unlike my parents. They were usually too busy fighting about money to say hello.
“We’re going to be in my room, Des,” Holly announced, already darting to the hallway toward her bedroom. Holly called her mom by her name since they were more like friends than mother and daughter.
“Okay, sweetie,” Desiree said. “See you later, Athena.” She grinned, flashing a set of white teeth which went nicely with her long auburn dreads.
She owned the flower shop in town. Holly and her mom moved here when she was five from Dragon Valley when her dad left them. It was easy for Desiree to start over as a flower shop owner since she had what I liked to call a sorcerer’s thumb. She could make flowers arise from the literal dried up, shriveled grave.
Opening Holly’s black door, I tried to avoid mashing Holly’s clothes flung from one end of her Goth Victorian room to the other.
“Okay,” Holly said, bouncing on her bed. “Let me see that book.” She opened it slowly as if it held a magic genie. I gazed at it as it sparkled in the light. For some weird reason, my heart was racing.
“Wish Book,” she said. “Hmm…I wonder if this is like a journal of wishes. People have been journaling their thoughts for centuries but journaling wishes? That’s something different.” She flipped through the glittery blank pages.
“Yep.” Holly said. “It’s definitely a journal. Because of the title, I’d advise using it as a wish diary. I wonder who bought it for you.”
“It’s such a mystery. I mean, first of all, it’s not like I have friends who would want to buy me stuff like this.”
Holly glared. “What am I? Thin air?”
I shook my head. “I didn’t mean it like that. I meant, I’m not popular. All my life I haven’t had any friends because…” I looked at my chair. “Let’s be serious. If you hadn’t broken both your ankles the summer before I moved here, would you have become my friend?”
“Of course I would!” she huffed.
But I didn’t believe her. When I’d arrived at Brindleton Bay Elementary, I saw Holly with a bewildered face, awkwardly wheeling around the fifth grade classroom, bumping into chairs and desks. I showed her how to wheel around like a pro. To maneuver the chair around in most places, you’ve got to pop a wheelie—it’s fun. And bam! Instant friends.
Holly slipped down to the ground, still holding the book. “What about San Fran?”
I shrugged. “What about him?”
“Uh, hello? He only has a mega massive crush on you.” Holly kept flipping through the pages. “Don’t tell me no one cares about you.”
A pang of guilt rippled through me. I hated feeling like that. But Holly didn’t understand. She was born with two working legs. Well, so was I, technically, but after the car accident eleven years ago that I can’t remember, and an injury that shattered my L-2 vertebrae, having two working legs was not my reality. And besides, she was totally wrong about Francisco. “We’re just friends.”
“My point exactly. Hey!” Her eyebrow arched wickedly as she stood. “Do you think maybe he bought it for you?”
“No.” I ripped the book away from her. “First of all, Francisco doesn’t lie. And second of all, the story is just so bizarre, it has to be true. A little girl gave him the book to give to me so…” Flipping through the blank pages, I said, “There’s only one thing left to do.”
“Do you have a pen? I think it’s time to do some wishing.”
Holly squealed, scrambling through her ebony drawers trying to find a pen. She dropped a half chewed pencil with a small nub for lead in my lap.
I held it up to her nose. “Really?”
“Okay, fine.” She dug through her clothes on the floor and came up with a blue ballpoint.
My mind raced with the possibilities. Of course, this wasn’t a real wish book, but it was fun thinking about it. “Holly, if you could wish for anything in the world, what would you wish for?”
The corner of my mouth lifted. “That your dad would come back?”
“Seriously?” She shot eye-lasers at me. “I’m very happy with Des just as we are. No, I wouldn’t wish something for myself.”
She gave me a look I’d known most of my life. The look of pity on the poor cripple. I scrunched my face. “You’re not thinking about me, are you?”
“Well, why not? You’re always complaining about being confined to that chair and about how your legs have withered. Why shouldn’t you wish to walk?”
I tilted my head. “Maybe because I know in all the possibilities of possibilities that can’t happen. And honestly, I learned a long time ago to be okay with that.” I focused on the blank glitter dust page. “I want to wish for the possible,” I whispered. “For something that actually could happen. Like when you get a fortune in a fortune cookie and it gives you hope when the words ring true for your life, you know?”
“Oh my God!”
“What?” Holly cried.
Panic beat against my chest. “I forgot Mom wanted me to babysit my sister today. I was supposed to come home right away. I’m dead!”
Holly winced. She knew I was headed for certain grounding by coming home late. Again. I’d been late for the past two days and my mom and dad said they’d personally string me up by my pinkies if I didn’t come right home today. But could I help it if I got distracted by a freaky book? I tried to calm down my heart.
It wasn’t working.
Flying through the door, I yelled a goodbye to Desiree, then wheeled down the street toward my house. With lots of good luck, I’d make it before Mom left for her meeting.
I’m going to update every Wednesday now.
SO, next update Wednesday, October 10th.