THREE WISHES—A FAIRYTALE • by Robin Vandenberg Herrnfeld

“I wish it would snow,” Jackie said after weeks of bleak skies and drizzles.

“Not a chance,” said Jim.

“Imagine! Crisp white snow on a bright winter’s day?”

Jim shrugged and read his newspaper.

Overnight, the temperature dropped. An icy wind blew and it started to snow, all day, then the next, and the next day, too. The roads weren’t ploughed, the bus couldn’t get through.

When the power went out, Jackie found it romantic. She lit candles and snuggled up to Jim. There wasn’t much food in the cupboard. They found some ice cream in the freezer, but without electricity they couldn’t heat the frozen lasagne. Jim shovelled snow off the walk, hoping to walk to the next shop, but as soon as he finished, more snow piled up.

Jackie grumbled.

“You wanted snow,” Jim said.

“I wish the sun would come out,” Jackie said after dreary days of endless white that took on a dirty crust as roads were cleared and traffic resumed.

Soon the sun came and the snow melted. The days grew long; Jackie took long walks and Jim dug up the garden.

The temperature rose. Lawns dried out, leaves drooped from trees. Water was rationed and the potted plants wilted.

The sun shone unremittingly. In town, the streets were like an oven; no shade, no refuge from the heat. The glare made Jackie’s head ache.

She sweated. Jim sweated. It was too hot in the bedroom to sleep at night. She grew cross.

“I wish it would rain!” cried Jackie.

“Be careful what you wish,” said Jim. “You’re starting to scare me.”

The next morning was dark, as though someone had forgotten to turn the light on. Heavy clouds had rolled in overnight.

“Oh, goody!” Jackie ran outside like an excited child when the first rain drops came.

They fell more quickly, turned into a torrent. Rivers and streams filled and overflowed, dry earth washed away. The reservoir was full and the Council worried that the dam might burst.

“I wish…”

“No!” Jim said, but she couldn’t hear him, because something crashed into the side of the house with a horrendous roar. A mass of muddy water broke through the wall and tumbled them down the walkway, across the road, smashed them against a row of trees that somehow managed to remain upright.

The water took them to a place where maybe life is better and wishes don’t come true.

Robin Vandenberg Herrnfeld grew up in California but has lived in Germany for the last twenty-some years. She studied literature in the US and Germany and started writing short stories around five years ago. Her true-life account of a Neo-Nazi victim was published in 2007.

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