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“I wish I could stay awake without amphetamines.”
“I wish my kids would just shut up for one goddamned mile.”
At most rest stops, all except one, the wishes are answered in the more-or-less random way wishes are answered everywhere – that is, as a matter of happenstance.
Between mile markers 197 and 198 on a non-descript highway crossing a non-descript state lies the “Heart of the Prairie” rest stop. Most people speed past it, some stop and use the restroom or take a nap or buy a terrible cup of coffee.
The custodian at the Heart of the Prairie is an older man, slow, plodding, and the one who puts up the “Restroom Closed for Cleaning” sign that suffering travelers curse. The name tag on his faded grey shirt reads “Gene” in pretend-fancy script, and he is a three-dimensional projection of a nineteen-dimensional being whose name in his own language, oddly, is Gene.
Bobby fell to his knees in front of the scratched faux-wood panel keeping him from his Whatchamacallit bar and wept. He wept for all the paths his life had not taken and all the choices he had not made. But mostly he wept for that candy bar.
“I wish, just once, I could have something go right. Just one time.”
Mopping the red ceramic tile in the lobby, Gene heard Bobby’s wish. He moved the mop forward, left, and back, and heard the hollow clunk behind him as the now-free Whatchamacallit bar fell from its perch.
He finished mopping the floor, secure in the knowledge that the universe was, once again, safe.
30 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time Writing Contest: Eric Martell”
Love this one. Simple wish, simple fulfillment, all’s right with the world.
Funny, brilliant and gorgeous! Thanks for entering 🙂
Love this – touching, poignant and funny too. Fantastic take on a fairy tale, brings it home. 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it!
LOL! Love it! I so wouldn’t want to waste a wish on something so simple! hehehe 🙂
If only he’d known that his wish might be granted, what could he have wished for?
Or was it only granted because it was so simple?
Wow, something so tiny, but so huge…amazing 🙂
Oh, I feel sorry for Bobby. Have to agree, very poignant. Guess the heart of the prairie isn’t too far from the desert! 😀
You did a great job bringing those characters to life in so few words — I feel like I’ll spot Gene one day at a rest stop and shiver!
Loved this one, on many levels.
I will make sure I say my wishes out loud at all rest stops from now on – just in case! ( ; > Brilliant.
Thanks, Miranda! It never hurts to let the universe know what you want…unless there’s an imp around. 😉
Plain and simple, I just really like this story. Like a lot a lot. Great work.
Ang, thanks very much for the nice words. 😉
Oh wow that one got to me – be careful what you wish for – so many hundreds of wish tales all in one – and the Gene character had me howling. Love it
Brilliant concept and great last line!
I enjoyed this! Nice of Gene and his magic mop to grant Bobbly his wish. 🙂
Nicely done, Dr. Magoo. I think I’ve been to that rest stop. 😉 I’m quite sure it’s in Illinois. If any state can bring a man to his knees it’s Illinois.
Thanks! I’m not telling where it is, though – Gene is not a being to be trifled with.
Elegant in its simplicity. I love the idea of fairy tales in non-traditional fairy tale settings.