“Wishgiver,” Friend, Apr. 1996, 15
“I’m the Wishgiver,” Kaitlyn sang.
Jeremy jumped from his bed and stood at the door of his room. That’s all he needed—his little sister messing with his stuff.
“Look, Jeremy! Look!”
Kaitlyn spun in circles, almost tripping over the cape that swirled around her ankles.
The costume didn’t look all that great. Just a big T-shirt that used to be his and that Mom had sewn a big W on, and an old beach towel with two corners tied in a knot in front. “Looks good,” Jeremy said, forcing a smile.
“Make a wish.” Swirling her cape again, Kaitlyn moved closer to his room.
Closing his door behind him, Jeremy led the lively Wishgiver to the family room. “I wish to see you rehearse your part in the play as our family home evening activity tonight,” he chuckled good-naturedly.
After that, every day Kaitlyn bounced around in her costume. Mom laughed, “You’re going to wear your costume out before the play.” Then she hugged Kaitlyn and played the Wishgiver game.
Jeremy holed up in his room. It was hard to pretend, even for Kaitlyn, in a superhero who could make wishes come true. He was glad that she realized that it was only make-believe and didn’t pretend Dad was alive, or something like that.
At last the play was only three days away. Jeremy, Kaitlyn, and Mom sat at the kitchen table, eating breakfast.
Jeremy swallowed a bite of toast. “I’m supposed to take treats to the soccer party Saturday.”
“Are brownies OK?” Mom asked. “We’ll make them Friday—I have to work Saturday.” She turned to Kaitlyn. “Honey, I’m sorry, but I can’t come to your play.”
Kaitlyn plunked her spoon into her cereal bowl. Milk sloshed over its sides. “You’re not coming?”
Mom took Kaitlyn’s face in her hands. “I tried, honey, but I can’t get another nurse to take my shift.”
“But it’s my play!”
Jeremy focused on his banana. He peeled the skin back, picking off bits that were left behind.
Kaitlyn’s lip quivered. Mom hugged her. “Mrs. Santangelo will take you. She’s really looking forward to seeing your play.”
“But you’re my mommy. Mrs. Santangelo’s not the same. She’s not my family. Jeremy, can’t you come?”
Jeremy wadded the banana peel. “I have a party that day.”
“You can’t come, either?”
Jeremy didn’t look up from the squished peel. He knew how Kaitlyn was feeling. Not too many weeks ago, at his soccer game, he’d felt the same way.
Most of the kids had dads there. Mom was OK. She cheered and knew the rules. But she couldn’t come to the final game. She’d had to work then too. Even so, before the game, he’d searched the sidelines. No Mom.
He’d played well—each time he kicked the ball, he’d think of Mom not being there and the ball would sail far. He’d scored three goals, and the score was 5–4 in favor of the opponents when he got the ball again in the final minutes. He dribbled it down the field, evaded the defense, and aimed at the goal. The ball bounded toward the goal, hit the corner of the post, and went … outside.
“I lost the game,” Jeremy moaned. Knowing that no one was there waiting for him in the bleachers, but still hoping, he trudged off the field.
The game had been days ago, and as Jeremy cleared his dishes from the table, he wanted to forget about how awful and alone he’d felt. He tried not to notice that Kaitlyn had started to cry.
For the next three days, Kaitlyn didn’t dress in the Wishgiver costume, and no one played the Wishgiver game. Even if it was dumb, Jeremy missed it. “Hey, Kaitlyn,” he coaxed, “put on your costume. I have a wish for you.”
“It’s just a costume,” Kaitlyn muttered. “The Wishgiver can’t really make things happen.”
The day of the play, Mom hustled Kaitlyn into the car to take her to the Santangelo’s. Kaitlyn was quiet, all the bubble gone. Mom didn’t say much, either. As she opened the car door, she turned to Jeremy. “The brownies are on the kitchen table. Be careful crossing the highway. And have a good time at the party.”
Jeremy watched Mom climb into the car. The party. It was just a dumb old party—a bunch of guys horsing around and … “Hey, Mom, wait up!” He raced to the car. “Do you think Mrs. Santangelo would mind if I came?”
Mom turned off the engine and looked into his eyes. Her own eyes were kind of misty. “But your party. … You don’t want to miss that.”
“The guys’ll just mess around. I can get there after the play in plenty of time for the food. Do we have time to drop the brownies off?”
He raced into the house, grabbed his treats, then raced back out to the car and piled into the back seat next to Kaitlyn. For the first time in three days, she smiled—a big smile, big enough to show her missing teeth. “You’re coming to my play!”
“I’ve nothing better to do—no big deal.”
Kaitlyn giggled and snuggled as close to him as the seat belt would allow.
At the play, Jeremy sat between Mrs. Santangelo and some big guy, probably some kid’s dad. There weren’t many kids there. At his party he’d be with lots of them, all his friends.
For a bunch of little kids, the play wasn’t bad. The parents clapped and clapped. Then all the actors came in front of the curtain and told not what they wished for but what they were thankful for.
When it was Kaitlyn’s turn, Jeremy squirmed in his seat. She scared easily. She stood in front of the footlights, squinting into the glare. Scrunching her eyebrows, she searched the audience. “I’m thankful for … I’m thankful for my brother.”
Jeremy sat tall. The guy next to him didn’t seem so big.
The kids rushed off the stage, and in the push, Kaitlyn tripped and fell, tearing her precious cape. Jeremy helped her up.
She smiled up at him, her eyes gleaming. “Did you like it?”
“Yeah, it was good.”
“Do you have to go to your party now?”
She looked so tiny and alone with her missing teeth and her torn cape.
“Nah—it looks like they have good food here. I’ll hang around.”
Maybe you don’t have to be a Wishgiver to make wishes come true.