by Haunted Sox
when wishes go wrong.
|People always say they wish their wishes would come true. Few people realize that the stories of the consequences of wishing on monkey paws or accepting three wishes from a jinn aren't the only ways wishes can bite you in the butt. Even when your wish comes true through perfectly natural means like hard work or perseverance consequences are far from uncommon. |
Cecilia wished practically from birth to be seen, truly seen. She was the fifth of eight children. Cecilia wasn't the oldest which was attended to by virtue of being first or the youngest which was fawned over as the last. She was caught square in the middle of the birth order and felt all the more neglected because her younger brother was born less than a year after her. She didn't even get a full year of being pampered like a baby. Her parents had moved on to the excitement of expectation before she was even weaned.
The start of Cecilia's life had been far from promising, and the years of her childhood weren't any better. Her younger brother stole the spotlight from her at every opportunity. He learned to ride his bike minutes after she did, he got the celebration. She brought home a report which had earned an A+ and her brother brought home papers suggesting he be promoted an entire grade. He got a new bicycle.
Cecilia had skills and gifts too. She could have been a competitive gymnast if her brother hadn't needed orthodontic work. She wrote a novel by the age of sixteen, her parents were too busy worrying about balancing a budget stretched thin over ten people to notice. It never got published anyway...
Enough of the past, Cecilia was an adult. She had a good job as an accountant. It wasn't something she enjoyed but her budget was never thin. She still wished with all her heart that people would see her. It was almost supernatural when one morning her commute to work forced her on a literal detour. She was about to make the final turn back onto her usual path when a car smashed into hers from behind.
Cecilia checked herself and found no major injuries. She glanced in her rearview mirror and the limousine she saw flashed briefly as dollar signs in her mind. But no, she wasn't really hurt she couldn't sue when nothing really happened. "Perhaps," she thought, "she should get out and check her car before she decided nothing happened." It seemed reasonable.
Getting out of her car, Cecilia was poised to be very upset at the driver. She walked alongside her car and didn't like what she saw. The rear quarter had been squashed so badly that Cecilia couldn't see how she wasn't badly hurt. She turned from her car to glare through the windshield at the driver. He had occupied himself with arguing through a small window with his passenger. Neither driver nor passenger saw her glare. Cecilia sighed and leaned against her car to wait. If she gave them enough time they might notice her standing there and approach her.
There were particularly sheep-like clouds floating across the sky at a pretty quick rate. The air smelled of spilled oil and antifreeze. Other cars were driving around them in the outer lane. It looked very much like neither vehicle would be moving from the spot without mechanical aid. Finally, the sound of a car door opening drew Cecilia's attention back to the object of her frustration. The driver got out and took a few steps to open the rear passenger door. Cecilia was impressed with the number of steps it took. This was a fairly long limo.
The passenger got out of the car and smoothed his smartly styled suit. Apparently, he was not the stuffy type that required himself to wear a full three-piece suit but he looked none the more casual for just a jacket and pants. His suit and dress shirt were all shades of dark gray and he wore a metallic silver tie. She looked up from his tie to his face. He had a superman-type face, jet black hair, chiseled jaw, and piercing blue eyes.
What amazed her is that those eyes looked at her and she knew he really saw her. "Excuse me Miss, but are you alright?"
Cecilia stared at his eyes, blankly. She had to shake herself to gather enough of a thought to answer him with, "Yeah, no major damage, except to my car."
He smiled and the clouds went trotting joyfully from the sky. "I am glad you are not hurt, perhaps we should exchange information. Do you have a card?"
Cecilia shook her head, she wasn't a partner in her accounting firm so they didn't bother printing her cards.
The well-dressed man snapped his fingers and held out a hand to his driver. The driver produced a notepad and pen. The man took it long enough to lay a card on the cover. Then he handed it back to the driver. The driver walked the pad and card over to Cecilia. She pocketed the card and began scrawling her insurance information on the pad along with her home address and cell phone number. The driver collected the pad and pen from her and walked back to his employer.
That was when the police car arrived and the real business of settling the wreck began. It was well after noon when Cecilia finally made it into the office. She rode up in the elevator shoved into the fart-laden right rear corner, so naturally the floor her office was on smelled practically floral as she stepped out. As she walked around the corner the smell intensified until she saw the glass front of the firm's offices. The waiting room was filled with flowers of all kinds.
Cecilia eyed the floral profusion and pulled open the door to the office. She was hit by three things the moment she entered; the scent of a flower garden, the receptionist's angry glare, and a sneezing fit because she was allergic to half the flowers in there.
"Cecilia! You have to tell him to stop!" Julia, the receptionist, shouted waving a stack of cards like the ones that came with flowers.
Cecilia frowned and took the cards, "Tell who!"
"Sebastian Christopher, these things have been coming half the day."
Cecilia blinked, the limo had belonged to a Mr. Christopher, but how had he known where she worked? She fished his card out of her purse along with her phone. She quickly dialed the number. It rang only twice before he picked up, "Cecilia! Did you like the flowers?"
"They are lovely Mr. Christopher, but really you shouldn't have. I am allergic to half of them, and the receptionist is quite upset. Please no more gifts!" Cecilia responded.
"Please call me Sebastian."
"Mr. Christopher, I really don't feel that is appropriate."
At that moment a man opened the office door and walked up to Cecilia, "Excuse me miss, this is for you." He handed her a thick padded envelope.
"It sounds like my surprise has arrived. I couldn't find a Corolla from the same year in the same shade of blue, but this one is the new model. It's fully loaded. Just to make up for this morning." Mr. Christopher said through the phone.
Cecilia paused. She shouldn't accept it. Her hands opened the envelope and removed the keys, "Thank you, Mr. Christopher. I will gladly sign a waiver of further responsibility for the accident. Just messenger one over." Cecilia felt this should be the end of the encounter, "I have work to do if I can let you go?"
"Certainly," Mr. Christopher hung up the conversation on his end.
Cecilia thought nothing more of it, except feeling slightly annoyed that the messenger with the waver didn't come that afternoon. She found her new car in the parking lot using the key fob button. It was the newest version of the light blue Corolla she had driven since college. On the drive home, she liked the fact it lacked the quirks her old "reliable" one had possessed. By the time she pulled into her driveway, she was prepared to put the day off as an overall lucky day.
She unhappily found a humongous teddy bear sitting on her porch. Mr. Christopher didn't do anything by halves. She left it where it sat and headed in the house. His attention was getting a little creepy. She kicked off her heels and poured herself a glass of wine.
Cecilia was thumbing through her selection of frozen dinners when the doorbell rang. She answered it to find Toby, the delivery man from her favorite Thai restaurant. "Toby? I didn't order anything."
Toby nodded, "Some dude called in an order for your 'usual.' Here you go." He held out the bag to her. She started to fumble in her jacket pocket for a tip. "No, Cecilia the tip is all taken care of."
A shiver passed up Cecilia's spine, as she thought of the take-out containers in her fridge, "Did he just order my usual? Or did he make a specific order?"
"That is the weird part, he ordered each item just like you would, and then added the words, 'her usual.'"
Cecilia smiled weakly and backed into the house. She barely caught Toby's, "Nice Bear."
Over the next few months, these incidents happened randomly but often. Mr. Christopher always knew more than he reasonably should, like the next time he sent flowers, absent the ones to which she was allergic. A random statement from her doctor told her how he had managed that feat. He had somehow accessed her allergy tests during a data breach at the office.
Cecilia called the police and reported him. He made no threats and they couldn't catch him at anything illegal if they even looked. Cecilia tried to convince them that there was something wrong with this but they said it was just an innocent infatuation. In an era when stalking was finally considered a crime, they brushed away his behavior as merely eccentric. Cecilia changed her locks and put in a security system.
Cecilia decided it was time for a little protection. Afraid she would just shoot her own foot off if she got a gun, Cecilia went to the nearest animal shelter. She walked up to the adoption desk, "Excuse me, I am interested in adopting."
The man behind the counter looked her over, "The cats are down that hallway."
Cecilia blinked at him, "I want a dog, a big hulk of a dog."
The man shrugged, "Down that hallway."
Cecilia walked through the kennels and came to one with a red warning sticker across the information sheet, "Warning biting dog." Cecilia started to walk on by but the big rottweiler seemed tame to her. She flipped through the papers. Apparently, "Stinky" was wonderful with women but hated men. She risked putting her fingers through the chainlink gate. Stinky loped over and began kissing her fingers. He seemed really sweet, though she could definitely see where the name came from. The papers had told her one more thing, Stinky was out of time. If he didn't get adopted today, he was going down for the big nap.
His date with destiny was sooner than she thought just as she started to walk away to get someone to help her adopt him a young woman came with a stout leash to take him on his last walk. "Wait!" Cecilia begged.
"This big guy is on my list," The woman stated.
"He is my list! I want to adopt him!"
The woman scratched her head, "You sure? His last owner surrendered him because he treed her boyfriend."
Cecilia nodded, "Point me to the paperwork!"
Within an hour Cecilia had adopted a great brute of a rottweiler. He was extraordinarily well behaved. Stinky, patrolled the house while she worked and slept on the bed next to her at night. She was really becoming attached to the dog. Then one day she came home from work. Unusually, Stinky didn't run up and greet her at her return. She searched the house. Finally, she checked the backyard. He lay sprawled out on the ground, completely unmoving. Moments later she realized he wasn't breathing. The thing was that she never left him in the backyard alone. Not even when she was home. She changed the locks and the code for her alarm system.
Cecilia lived on guard. The only time she really relaxed was when she locked herself in her bathroom and took a shower. One morning even that was tainted. As she rinsed the conditioner from her hair she noticed a drinking straw-sized hole in the corner where the walls of the shower met the ceiling. She finished her shower quickly and retrieved her stepladder. After setting it up, Cecilia climbed it to examine the hole. She scraped at the edges. They were softer than the wall around them. She got a screwdriver and dug. Opening the hole to the size of a lipstick, Cecilia discovered a tiny camera. She yanked it from the wall and it trailed a long tail of wires.
Still wet, Cecilia searched the house for more cameras. They were like roaches, for every one she found she assumed there were dozens more. It was the last straw. The police weren't helping, even her family didn't see a serious threat. Instead, they saw a prince charming. Prince charming never hid cameras in Cinderella's castle.
Finally, Cecilia went to the drastic ends of packing a suitcase, calling a cab and running. Six months later "Antoinette" was living a simple life as a barista in Seattle. She no longer wished to be seen. She was looking to fly under the radar, but couldn't help but flirt with one of her regular customers. Sean was a web developer and Cecilia fell for him rather quickly. He had shoulder-length wavy blonde hair and hazel eyes that flashed emerald green in the right light.
They spent most of their dates at one of their apartments watching streaming movies. Sean was a casual dresser. He wore nearly the same thing every day. Cecilia often kidded him that he recycled his outfits. For the most part it wasn't true, but it seemed like every day he wore his favorite green flannel shirt as a jacket and of course the St. Christopher he inherited from his great grandfather. Sean would lean over the back of the couch to kiss Cecilia before he left and the St. Christopher medal regularly bonked her in the face.
The difficulties with Mr. Christopher faded from Cecilia's mind as her relationship with Sean blossomed. It felt like a proposal was forthcoming. She really wished she could tell her family about Sean, but her last contact with them was to tell them she was going into hiding from Mr. Christopher. Still, Cecilia wasn't going to let that dampen her happiness.
One evening after her shift she went back to her apartment and took a shower. When she came out of the shower, a familiar, enormous teddy bear lay on her twin mattress. Cecilia panicked and called Sean. "Sean, remember how I told you about Mr. Christopher? He's found me!"
"Oh, god. I'll be right over. Lock yourself in the bathroom. I'll text you when I get there and you are only to open the door for me!"
"I'll be waiting for your text," Cecilia gathered a chef's knife from the kitchen and locked herself in the bathroom until he came.
About an hour later than she expected it, the text finally came. Cautiously, Cecilia crept to the front door. She looked out the peephole and saw Sean's mussed mane of wavy blonde hair. She noted his green flannel shirt and began unlocking the door. Rapidly swinging the door open she was ready to throw herself into his arms. She stopped short when she was greeted with Mr. Christopher's blue eyes. She backed away. Mr. Christopher wore Sean's favorite jeans and t-shirt, ubiquitous flannel shirt, and around his neck hung the St. Christoper medal Sean never took off. Cecilia was so shocked by the sight of that necklace, which Sean would only give up over his dead body, that she almost entirely missed the gun in Mr. Christopher's right hand.
best short story2, romance/love category
for best death category