"You've only got forty-five seconds left. You're gonna waste it," I remind her. It was cute - she took her wishes so seriously, like missing out on any opportunity to get something for nothing was enough reason to be brought up on charges. It was her way of clipping coupons, I guess. She could make a magic lamp last for a decade, not because there was nothing to wish for, but because...it was as if she was being scored on the quality of her choice and on her performance.
Welcome to the Wish Olympics.
I waited as patiently as I could. I had already made my wish; I wanted her to stay. It was late and her train was due to leave Penn Station at nine the next morning. Sleep wasn't an option - she could sleep on the train and I could sleep at work.
Her head might've been in the clouds, but her feet were firmly planted on the ground. She didn't trust airplanes or airports as they both made her uncomfortable, claustrophobic. She rode trains everywhere instead, had listened to the clicking of a thousand miles of rail on her way to visit me and would double that distance with her return trip home. She was to spend a day traveling each way and only three days here. Appreciate isn't the right word. I would've done it if I had had the money. I didn't, she did, so she came. As simple and as fiendishly complicated as that.
"I know," she said, and a pained look crossed her face. Something was formulating in her head and she was trying desperately to make it coherent so her wish would be transmitted to its destination in one concise piece instead of sounding like the ramblings of one of the local crazies. "I just...I want to get this right. Shhhhhh."
As I'm waiting through what is probably the longest minute in the history of minutes, I think about how sexual she makes eating a fortune cookie seem. Once, sitting at a wobbly table in some anonymous Lower East Side ChinaMex restaurant, I swear I saw a puff of smoke rise from her cookie as she cracked it open. It smelled like rose petals and gunpowder.
I'm so enthralled with the memory that I don't react as she leans across the gap between us and kisses me, hard and still, on the lips. Looks me in the eyes. "Finished. Thank you."
I nod, dumbly. I want to kiss her, but I want to keep looking at her far, far more.
- - -
She missed her train and I called out of work. We didn't sleep again until the next night, curled up under a blanket we both knew we'd be fighting over once we were both too unconscious to be polite, once the dreams took over.
Right before we slipped away (and only a few hours before she slipped away by herself, early the next morning) she asked if I had gotten my wish. "I did," I said, because it was true - I knew she wouldn't stay forever, but that one extra night was...it was enough, for now. "Did you get your wish?" I asked. She just smiled.
A few nights later, talking on the phone, she told me that she did get her wish, in a way - she had wished that I would get my wish. I think that breaks the rules, somehow, but I can't tell her that. I can't burst that bubble any more than I can tell her that after all of her concern, after the painstaking preparation that went into her simple request to the wish fulfillers and after the wonderful following day, her wish was made at 11:12.
Some fortunes are better off left inside their cookies.
This is fiction...for now.