A Wish Come True
Short story by Iris Carden
Ariana looked around her. She was tired, but everything was perfect.
Even her parents, who hardly had a civil word for each other normally, were happily dancing together.
She looked down at her shiny new wedding ring. At last she and Jack had done it. They were married, and were planning to live happily ever after. She couldn’t see where Jack was just at that moment but he was surely circulating among the guests, being congratulated.
On the table beside her was the wishing well. Martha, her sister, her bridesmaid, had made it for her. Instead of gifts, guests put money into the wishing well, to start their bank account for saving their house deposit. The little “well” was beautiful, carefully constructed from brightly-painted balsa wood, with ribbons and bows and flowers over it, in a manner only someone as artistic as Martha could have made look so elegant and beautiful. On the side was written, “To Ariana and Jack. May all your wishes come true.”
Ariana gently touched a satin bow as she admired her sister’s artwork. She looked at the dance floor, and realised that all of the people she loved most in the world were together tonight and having a wonderful time. “I wish this moment could last for ever,” she murmured.
Suddenly, everything stopped. Dancers stopped mid-step. Everything around her was frozen – a strange tableau of a wedding celebration.
Ariana walked over to her parents. They were totally still, like something from a waxworks museum.
Her Uncle Fred was suspended mid-air, caught in the midst of falling from his chair after drinking more champagne than he really could handle. (Knowing Uncle Fred, he probably started celebrating long before the actual wedding ceremony.)
A bartender was pouring a beer – the liquid frozen mid pour.
Ariana wasn’t the only one moving. A small man with a grey beard was putting items of cutlery into a basket. She didn’t know him and was sure he wasn’t on the guest list.
“Who are you?” She asked.
“You can see me? But you’re a human. Humans can’t see me.”
“I can see you. Who are you? If you’re not human what are you?”
“I’m Orsinius Wishlet. I’m a wisp.”
“And why can’t humans usually see you?”
“I don’t exist. Well, I do, but I don’t. You understand?”
“Not at all. Why is no-one else moving?”
“They are. But this is the interim.”
“The interim. Between the tick and the tock. Between moment and moment. We’re outside of time.”
“Outside of … How did this happen?”
“Well, I use the interim to build my collection, and avoid humans. I don’t know why you’re in it.” He took an icing flower from the wedding cake and added it to his basket.
“I just touched the wishing well here, and I wished the moment would last for ever.”
Orsinius climbed on the table beside the wishing well. On his hands and knees he took a $50 note from the wishing well, and then sniffed the well. “Smells like magic.” He said, “Strong magic. I advise not touching it.”
“But I already did touch it. And that money you just took was part of my wedding present!”
“Oh yes. I’ve got lots of these in my collection. Thank you. Well, I have enough now. I’m going back to my burrow.”
“Your burrow? Where is that?”
“On the border.”
“The border between reality and unreality.”
“The border between reality and unreality? That’s a thing?”
“Well it is and it isn’t. Reality is a thing, but unreality isn’t.”
“Of course. Do you know how I get out if this interim thingy?”
“No idea. I’ve got to go. Humans are creepy and talking to you is really freaking me out.” With that he simply disappeared.
“I’m in the interim between the tick and the tock, I’ve been talking to a creature that lives on the border between reality and unreality. I’m clearly either dreaming or going insane.” Ariana took a deep breath.
She couldn’t see Jack in the reception hall, and went looking for him. Just outside, she found him. Frozen mid-kiss with Martha. It wasn’t a congratulatory peck on the cheek between a new brother-in-law and sister-in-law. It was a full-fledged lover’s kiss.
This was horrifying, even more so than being outside of time, while all of the people she cared about were frozen.
Back in the reception hall, she tried touching people, shaking their shoulders, pinching them, trying to get someone to move, to notice her. Nobody did move or respond in any way.
Touching the wishing well again she said, “I wish I’d never made that wish.” Nothing happened.
She was stuck. Surrounded by all the people she loved and cared about, she was totally alone.
Orsinius Wishlet Stories
Lost and Found was originally a one-off story, until the day I had the idea for A Wish Come True. After that, Orsinius and the world built around him just kept coming back to me.