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I Wish by Karen Wodke

Bosco Rawlins was bent over the flowerbed in his front yard, weeding the marigolds. The tree behind him would provide nice shade for his front porch, if it were but five feet to the left, I thought. The scene shifted and the tree moved over.

“Hi Bosco,” I said. He stood and pulled off his gloves.

“Hi,” he said, wiping the sweat from his brow.

“Do you like the new placement of your shade tree?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

I gave him a knowing smile, but held my silence. Bosco stared at me for a few minutes, waiting for me to say something else. When I didn’t, he gave me an odd look. Finally, he shrugged and turned, running face first into the tree.

I walked on.

A merry little bell clinked against the glass door as I entered the diner. I took a seat at the counter. A blind man sat on the end, holding a white cane in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Dark glasses, slick black hair, thin pale hands.

He would be safer if his cane were easier to see, I thought. It ripened slowly to neon green. He paused, the cup halfway to his mouth, and then resumed drinking.

“Do you like the new color of your cane?” I called to him, my pleasure evident in my tone.

“I might if I could see it,” he replied. A fly crawled unnoticed across his partially eaten donut.

The door jangled its goodbye to me as I left.

On the edge of town three thick columns of pollution rose like gray sentinels from factory smokestacks. They darkened the sky in a most unattractive way, I thought. A passerby stopped beside me and followed my gaze.

“Ugly,” I said. He nodded.The smoke stopped and a high breeze cleared the air.

“That’s better, don’t you think?” I turned to my anonymous companion for confirmation, but he was staring at the massive clouds of smoke now rolling out the doors and windows as workers dashed from the building. He pulled out a cell phone and snapped a photo.

I walked on.

Next to an old battered car, a pretty woman struggled with several heavy sacks of groceries.

“Need some help?” I asked.

“That would be nice, thanks.”

Now the sacks were filled with crumpled tissue, light as air. She gaped, revealing the dark space of a missing eyetooth.
I strolled into a music store and admired the pianos. Sleek shiny wood. Smooth clean surfaces that begged to be touched. I wished I knew how to play. A clerk sprang to my side.

“Are you interested in purchasing a piano?” he asked, solicitous and eager.

“Not in the least,” I said as my fingers danced over the keys. “I don’t play.”

Rhima Walker entered the store and stopped, surprised.

“Franklin,” she said. “It’s been years. How is your mother?”

“You would know more about that than I would. She lives in your basement.” I winked at her and she retreated a step.

“Is that some kind of a joke?” She clutched the collar of her dress.

“I see you like paisley,” I said, nodding at her outfit. Rhima looked down and took the folds of her skirt in her hands. They were solid blue, the hard primary color of a crayon. Wordlessly, she held the fabric toward the clerk. I rose from the bench and wandered away.

On my way home, I found The Edge in her usual spot selling artwork on the sidewalk. A police officer stood next to her, writing with a slick black pen no thicker than a drinking straw. I thought of the blind man.

“T-h-e,” she spelled, “E-d-g-e. The loft at 44 South Junction.”

“What’s up?” I asked The Edge as the cop tore a sheet from his pad and handed it to her.

“Just shit,” she sang, flinging her diagonal burgundy bangs away from her eyes with a toss of the head. “I wish I had a permit.”

It doesn’t work for everyone.

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