“Dad! Dad, wake up!”
Robert had never regretted anything quite so much as he regretted this cabin excursion. His kids were at that age where everything was a production. Eleven-year-old Blythe was convinced she knew everything, and when eight-year-old Brayden wasn’t antagonizing her, he was encouraging her to mischief. Halfway through the drive Robert had started to consider abandoning them to go and live in the woods like Bigfoot.
“What is it?” Robert asked, attempting to rub the sleep from his eyes. His watch informed him it was two in the morning, and he felt an increase in his despair.
“Come out to the kitchen, Dad! I’ve got to show you something!” Blythe said. Why was her voice so shrill? Why was it two a.m.?
“Look, Dad, we went fishing!” Blythe said, proudly extending one arm to show him the net.
Robert was angry. Angry at two a.m. When was the last time he’d felt this way? His sleep-deprived mind recalled a moment three years ago. His ex-wife sat him down and said the magic is gone, Robert; we need a divorce.
There was certainly no magic left in his world.
“I specifically forbade you from taking the boat out by yourself, for good reason. You could have got yourself killed out there, especially in the dead of night!”
“But Dad, I caught one!”
Robert was thoroughly sick of But Dad! and started to say so. Blythe dumped the net on the table and Robert was struck dumb. The fish was absolutely massive and it looked delicious.
“She was amazing!” Brayden said. All he’d done all day was fight with his older sister and suddenly he was on her side?
“He fought but she reeled him in like a pro, and then when he told her to throw him back in she showed him what-for!”
“Fish don’t talk, son,” Robert said absently. How had his daughter caught such a specimen on her own? She shouldn’t have the strength to reel in this monster. Brayden couldn’t have been any help with his scrawny arms.
“This fish talked,” Blythe said.
“He said he’d give us three wishes!” Brayden said. His enthusiasm was fitting for his age but Robert thought he was a little old for make-believe.
“Okay, you two. Where did you really get the fish? I’m not impressed by your nonsense,” Robert said.
“I caught it!” Blythe said. She crossed her arms and stomped her foot. Robert wondered if she was ever going to grow out of that.
“There’s no such thing as a fish that grants wishes, Blythe. You’re obviously lying. Tell me where you got it.”
“I didn’t steal anything! It’s a magic fish!” Blythe’s voice took on a whining quality that Robert didn’t like.
“Dad, she’s telling the truth,” Brayden said.
Robert tried to scold him for interrupting, but his son shouted over him.
“He said it, he really did! He said she had three wishes and could ask for anything in the world. Blythe told him she wished for three dinners then hit him on the head with a rock. It was totally badass!”
“Language, Brayden. And what have I told you about lying? There’s no such thing as magic.”
The magic is gone, Robert. Because it had never been there in the first place.
“Look at him! He’s enough for three dinners!” Blythe said. “My three wishes came true, Dad!”
“Technically, that was only one wish. You still have two more, if you want them,” the fish said weakly.
Robert screamed and hit it on the head with a rock.
Holly Geely is a bookkeeper by day which makes her sound boring – but her imagination is ripe with ridiculousness. Her preferred genre is fantasy but she likes to branch out. She’s a fan of bad puns, bright colours, and parodies. Her fiction pops up in online magazines here and there. You can find more of Holly’s stories at her blog hollygeely.wordpress.com or keep up with her on Twitter @hollygeely.