I’ve wanted to post another serial, or story in parts, since “Off the Trail” in January. What better time than right now? Here is part one of “A Dandelion Wish” — enjoy!
Abby Marsh loved the time of year when dandelions withered away and their yellow flowers were replaced with white clouds – or cotton balls, as her father Joe called them. There were few things more satisfying to a ten-year-old girl than snapping one of those weeds off at the stem and blowing the wispy seeds into the wind – into the world.
Abby didn’t tell anyone this, but she only allowed herself three wishes per year: one was reserved for blowing out the candles on her birthday cake, the second for when she spotted a shooting star in the summer sky, and the third was spent on the perfect cotton ball.
One weekend, while visiting her dad, he took her to pick asparagus at a local vegetable farm. Local artists, photographers, and jewelry makers sold their work there, and a young couple ran a café with a pickup window out back by the fields. Abby and her father finished their lunches – two tuna wraps, two zesty pickles, and a large lemonade with two straws in it – and then headed back to the truck with a sack of asparagus in tow. A metal bracelet resembling braided branches hung from Abby’s wrist.
“Do you really think we’re going to eat all this?” Abby asked as her father swung the bulging bag in between their two seats.
“Probably not. But it’s all I’ve got planned for dinner, so you better like it,” he said with a grin.
Abby laughed and almost hopped in the truck when she spotted it: the perfect cotton ball.
“Hang on,” she said, turning away and plucking it from the earth. She closed her eyes, made a wish, and blew. The dandelion seeds danced and flitted away.
Joe fired up the engine as she buckled herself in, content with her wish. Abby’s thinking was simple and straightforward: if you sprinkle wishes out into the universe, perhaps one of them would be granted. Her friends at school bombarded the universe with dozens of wishes daily. Fallen eyelashes, 11:11, and four-leaf clovers were used on the regular.
On their drive home, they spotted a yard sale sign, directing them onto some forgettable, curvy country road. They were all the same, in ways.
Abby looked at her father who shrugged, Want to go?
Abby shrugged in response: Up to you.
Joe put on his blinker. Within a minute, they had found the place. It was an old farmhouse that sat back from the road a good eighth of a mile or so. The gravel driveway left a trail of dust behind them as they approached.
“Never been back here before,” Joe said.
Three tables with various trinkets, musty books, and other odds and ends lay out in the sun like offerings to some ancient god of the forest. An old man in a straw hat and overalls sat behind the tables. He chewed on a toothpick.
“Afternoon,” he called to them as they got out of the truck.
“Hi there,” Abby’s father replied.
“Holler if you need anything – if you got a question about something.”
“Sure thing,” Joe replied.
“Oh, and there’s a couple more tables back by the pole barn,” the old man said. He took the toothpick out of his mouth and pointed toward a dilapidated structure behind the house. It looked like a single, well-placed kick could topple the barn. “Too much work for an old-timer like me to carry it all out here.” He chuckled and winked at them.
Abby couldn’t explain it, but something inside her told her she needed to have a look. “Mind if I check it out?” she asked her dad.
“Go ahead,” Joe said, as an antique coffee grinder caught his eye.
Abby walked around the farmhouse toward the barn. When she approached the two tables, she noticed more of the same: an assortment of rather useless junk. She rummaged through rusty farming tools, shears, and a few old hunting knives. But when she picked up and moved a spool of fishing line, something gripped her attention.
“Hmm,” Abby said as she slid the sleek, black rock into her palm. It felt like a piece of glass in her hands – perfectly rectangular and symmetrical. Futuristic, almost. Inspecting it further, she noticed there were four small rune-like markings near the bottom of this artifact. The markings were in a similar location to the up, down, left, and right buttons on a television remote. However, these four engravings resembled the four classical elements: fire, air, earth, and water.
Abby slid her thumb over the air “button” and held it there. As if flipping a switch, the gentle breeze that had been lulling through intensified immediately. Abby’s hair was thrown back against this gust of wind. Trees swayed; the barn creaked and shifted.
Oh my God, Abby thought. My wish – it came true!
“Abby!” her father yelled through the wind. “Let’s get going!”
On instinct, she slipped the artifact into her pocket. It fit there snugly but concealed.
As Abby jogged past the old man, he smirked. “Careful now,” he called after her. “It ain’t a toy!”
She froze momentarily and glanced at him. He knew she had it, but all he did was smile and tip his hat in her direction. She hopped in the truck as her father turned the keys and pulled away from the old man – the old farmhouse.
When Joe and Abby got home, she told her father she wanted to lie down for a few minutes. Abby entered her bedroom, pulled out the artifact, and stared at it. The wind could still be heard outside.
Abby’s heart pounded as she ran her fingers over the object’s smooth surface. Then, in an attempt to get rid of the wind, she held down the fire-like rune.
The wind died down. In its place, the sun grew brighter.
“Oh my God,” Abby whispered. Not only could she harness the wind, but she could also control the sun.
The weather was hers.
Thanks so much for reading part one of “A Dandelion Wish” — I hope you enjoyed it. Be sure to check back in next week for part two!
This Friday, May 12, we’ll have our next Fifties by the Fire hangout. I’ll send the thread out at 3:00 PM EST. Here’s a link to April’s in case you missed it and want to check out the stories everyone came up with.
Prompt: write a fifty-word story (fiction, poem, or work of CNF) that uses the words root, flower, and stem. You’re allowed to use any variation of the words. If you’re up for the challenge, use all three — but if you want to focus on one or two of the prompt words, that’s fine too. Happy writing!
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I love this! The imagery is perfect. I can just see Abby and her dad in their truck. I'm wondering why she wants to harness the weather.... I'm wondering where her mom is... Looking forward to the next installment!
I'm hooked. Looking forward to part 2.