FF - The Wishing Pool

Fast Fiction is fiction written fast. The object is to get your brain thinking about a given subject without interference from “reason”. Go for the 30 minute time limit.

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FF - The Wishing Pool

Postby JillStar » Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:53 pm

jillstar wrote: Fast Fiction is just that... fiction written fast. Please visit What is FAST FICTION for more information.

Look at the subject for today's Fast Fiction at the end of this post... once you have the slightest beginning to your story… begin to write. Don't stop to ponder the meaning behind your writing or try to "fix" it so it's perfect... just write.

If you want to include your Fast Fiction finished product on WordTrip, simply add it to this thread. We would love it!

REMINDER: Please keep your stories PG13 if posted on the site. If you want a critique after you are complete, please consider using your writing group for help in that area or send a PM to one of us.

... try to stick to the 30 minutes time limit... ready, set... WRITE!

SUBJECT: THe Wishing Pool
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Postby JillStar » Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:16 pm

Bringing forward
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Postby dee » Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:04 pm

“Toss in your penny and make a wish,” he told her when she was six. “Close your eyes and wish as hard as you can, but don’t tell anyone what you wished for and it will surely come true,” Daddy promised.

At six, Sheila was oblivious to the beauty of a having a wishing pool surrounded by beautiful flowers, tree-lined sidewalks, and benches in a park smack dab in the middle of a busy city. At six, she did know the pool itself was beautiful, even magical, and throughout the years it became more significant.

Anyone who knew her, really, really knew her, knew that this was her safe haven. A place she would turn to when she was upset or just needed to think. This was a place that could give her peace, comfort, and a sense of security. This was a place she felt close to her dad, though he had died 3 years ago.

She brought Tim here one night. The moon was full and smiled down on her to reinforce the great feeling in the air. Tim seemed so sweet, so innocent, so perfect and she wanted to share her special place with him after such a wonderful evening. She didn’t explain her connection to this place to Tim, after all it was their first date. They held hands and kissed softly in the moonlight, talking, laughing. It was getting late so she thought they should go back to the car and Tim could take her home. That night Tim did the unspeakable, and her innocence was shattered.

She sat at the edge of the pool, her hand moving a leaf back and forth through the water, tears streaming down her face. No matter how many pennies she threw in now, her wish would never come true. She would never again find the peace and security this magnificent pool used to provide.
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Postby Jeffrey Allan Boman » Sat Jan 21, 2006 11:13 pm

Time for me to give this a try. Constructive criticisms greatly appreciated:

+++

Subject: The wishing well

Jimmy was not the most attractive of men, but he was very funny... the secretary at the office always told him so. He was an accountant by trade, worked in the depths of a big investment banking department for Dassin and Hapspiel. Career-wise, it was safe and steady, no worries about it going downhill for him any time soon. He had almost everything he needed...

- Except for one very important thing: he was lonely. He was 35, and he hadn't had a date since he was 17 in the 11th grade.

He walked through a park near the office on his lunch break. It was the beginning of fall. The leaves were starting to become dried uo and reddish on the trees, some of them falling to the ground.

He followed the path of a falling leaf with his eyes. It fell into a pond. He knew the pond well; it was a frequent place to drop coins in and to wish for something.

A silly little game for kids, really. Maybe some of the more superstitious adults might try it as well, but few really believed it could work.

Silly... he thought this while rummaging through his gray slacks for a quarter (he first thought of a smaller denomination coin, but a dime or nickle just seemed like a trifle for this). He found one, pulled it out to stare at it in his hand. He hesitated while pulling a strand of his red hair (noticing a little gray) off his jacket with his other hand.

He continued to stare at it while he formulated a wish in his mind: "I wish I wasn't alone any more." He looked at his coin a little more before tossing it in the pond. Silly...

"Is this spot taken?" Next to him was another man about his age with a chunk of bread in a paper bag. "Sorry to disturb you... the local pigeons almost expect me right here every day!"

Jimmy was a little surprised. He introduced himself to the man, and learned his name was Paul. He learned he was an animal lover, and from their chat learned he had a cat and fish of his own.

Lunchtime was wrapping to a close. He found this new friend interesting. He learned Paul worked on the same block, in the mail room of another company there. They exchanged numbers so they could talk again at another time, then both headed back to work.

------------------------------

Before anyone asks: I'm hetero. That ending came to mind out of the blue!
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Postby timberline » Fri Jan 27, 2006 3:33 pm

Here's another take on The Wishing Pool, encouraged by a news story I clipped a month ago about how kids engage in rituals to encourage "snow days." (1,167 words)

That night, Otto wore his pajama pants and shirt backward and inside out. He had told his sister Alicia about his ritual and she sneered the immature way a six-year-old girl would do, showing off their lack of education. But earlier, she had taken a handful of ice cubes from the freezer without telling their mom and had gone outside in the bitter twilight to throw them, one by one, at the oak tree in their front yard. Alicia had also taken off her coat and run around the house five times, sang The Teddy Bears Picnic three times and flushed more ice cubes down the toilet for good measure.

She could scoff at him, but he knew his special ritual would win the wishing pool.

Each of seven children in Miss Firm’s third-grade class—plus Alicia who was only a first-grader—had bet on the pool. They each had solemnly put a quarter into a Mason jar and tucked it under a fallen tree behind the playground. The winner would be the child who guessed most closely the first day school was cancelled because of snow.

Otto had carefully marked the calendar when the first school closing had taken place the year before. That December fourteenth, the snow had piled up so high Otto sank almost to his knees when he stepped off the front porch. Then he and Alicia had made snow angels and gotten their Dad’s dusty Flexible Flyer out of the garage waiting for him to come home from work and take them to Suicide Hill. And they made a fort and attacked the Schumacher kids three doors down with their barrage of snow balls.

As Otto twisted himself under the two blankets and comforter, he remembered suddenly there probably was still one or two snowballs left in the freezer in the basement. He had made them in March during what seemed like the last snowfall of the winter. Perhaps he should make a few more because they could surely be needed next May or June. What a surprise the Schumacher kids would have when snowballs hit them in the head as they ran around barefoot in the springtime!

He thought he might even write a letter to Dad and let Mom put it in an envelope with the letter she wrote every Saturday when she didn’t have to go to work at Tom’s Big Value store in Boone. He’d tell Dad about the snow closing wishing pool, and how he was sure he was going to win it this year. After all, it had been his inspiration. He had come up with the idea of a pool after checking—secretly, of course—with the librarian on Ash Street about when the first snow had taken place in earlier years.

Dad had promised he’d be home before the first snowfall, so there were two ways he’d win. He’d get the money and Dad would come home from Iraq wearing his fatigues and big boots and give them all hugs and kisses. Maybe Mom wouldn’t be so tired then and ask Otto to rub her feet as she sat in the Barca Lounger in front of the TV.

He had picked the date of December eighteenth. Four days away. He had figured all the “first days” and then had Mister Cooper at the grocery store average them out for him.

“What d’you wanta know that for, Otto?” Mr. Cooper had asked that day.

“It’s for my wishing pool. To pick the first snow day that school closes.’

Mr. Cooper had said, “You’re a smart kid, Otto. Whatya wasting your time with that crap?” Mr. Cooper was friendly to Otto, his mom said, because he had once had a boy who was sent to a place called Vietnam and didn’t come back. Whatever the reason, Mr. Cooper gave Otto a quarter and paid for a chance on December 25.

Maybe Otto’s dad knew when it would snow if he could be so sure about his return. This was something to think about, Otto considered, as sleep closed in on him. He decided there were more questions than answers in life, just a lot of mysteries only grown-ups could figure out.

“Ha ha,” Alicia laughed elaborately the next morning. “Didn’t snow and you look like a dork!”

“Yeah, but wait’ll I tell Mom you were throwing ice cubes at a tree and running around like a chicken singing.”

They ate the rest of their oatmeal in silence and then left for the school bus.

Otto had nothing more to say as he stared at the sun and didn’t wave back at Mrs. Schumacher who dropped off her kids and didn’t even lean down to pet their dog when it rubbed against his leg.

There was now more than two dollars in the Mason jar. They all stood that afternoon while Marvin Olinsky counted it, Otto tossed in Mr. Cooper’s quarter, and they carefully put the jar back under everyone’s mutually distrustful eyes. At that moment, Otto realized with a shock that the pool wasn’t about the money. Dad would be home before the first snowfall. He had promised.

The next day and the next were no better as December 18 approached, and Otto’s mood darkened with each passing day.

“I swear, you are the unhappiest child I’ve ever seen,” His Mom finally stopped him and looked him up and down, standing over him in the kitchen with her hands on her hips.

“I do my chores,” he said sullenly.

“I’ve seen happier looking children in the poor house. Cheer up, for Heaven’s sake! It’s going to be Christmas pretty soon.”

Yes, he thought, but probably not a white Christmas. December 18 was sunny. The 19th, in fact, turned out cloudy and brisk, with a wet north wind coming down out of Minnesota. But by two o’clock, as the bell rang and the children ran from the school to their buses, Otto felt the first snow flake on his ears. And then there was another. And another.

“Snow!” he shouted to Alicia. “It’s coming! I told you my trick would work.”

“Ha. You missed it by one day.”

“But I can still win. I’m still the closest.”

The bus driver heard them and she smiled. “Big ’un coming. Watch the TV weather man tonight.”

Otto had never felt better. Tomorrow was Friday and if it snowed hard enough there would be no school and if Mom didn’t have to work she could take them to Suicide Hill and he could collect the money on Monday. If it was real blizzard, it might even even be Tuesday, but he could wait.

He ran shouting up the walk to their front door and bumped into two men in Army uniforms who were just coming out the door.

His mother stood silently. Her hands were buried in her green Tom’s Big Value uniform.

“Don’t you understand, Mom. It’s snowing!”

“Just shut up, Otto,” Alicia said, sensing something neither of them understood.
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Postby timberline » Sat Nov 17, 2007 9:42 am

It's taken awhile--and several submissions--but "The Wishing Pool" has been sold to The Written Word (http://www.writtenwordmag.com/) and should be published in a few weeks.

I’m happy, not only for the sale, but because the youngsters in the story nibbled at my heart. Perhaps I once was “Otto,” making bets on when the first snowfall would close school and wondering when my father would come home from his business travels. Perhaps we all were young once, when holidays reached magical stature.
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Postby TheMudge » Sat Nov 17, 2007 12:09 pm

Oh, great . . . Timber is going into Philosopher Mode . . . :D

Congrats on selling the story, Timber!
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Postby timberline » Sat Nov 17, 2007 2:37 pm

"Magical stature" beats burning off your Visa card, Mudge. Seeing Santa after a few eggnogs--priceless!
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Postby JillStar » Sun Nov 18, 2007 3:40 pm

Very cool, Timber!! I know what you mean about the characters... we do tend to feel for them at times.
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Postby Mlou » Sun Nov 18, 2007 3:55 pm

Hey, great going, Timber! Keep it up.
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Postby timberline » Sat Oct 18, 2008 1:03 pm

I left a mistaken impression on my blogsite recently that Written Word Magazine (http://www.writtenwordmag.com/) was nearing defunction. It’s very much alive, but its Web site was functioning oddly on my PC. I would wait interminably, wanting to go out for a long walk or a short beer, until the graphics loaded. But—huzzah!—there in its archived June 2008 issue was “The Wishing Pool.”

This has been one of my favorite stories, written in January of ’06.

My childhood days were ominous, filled with omens, portents and symbols. The child matures when the signs come together. I put together a few of these signs and secret codes in this story. I’m happy, not only for the publication, but because the youngsters in the story nibbled at my heart. Perhaps I once was “Otto,” making bets on when the first snowfall would close school and wondering when my father would come home from his business travels.

My own childhood days in a small Oregon town were filled with tokens as powerful as having a Lone Ranger pistol ring. They were as mysterious as the X-ray machine at the shoe store where we watched our toes wiggle while the salesman sought out our Buster Browns. We believed in 1946 that the dead cat we found in the bushes had died violently. Why else would its mouth have turned into that horrible rictus? It was poisoned—and this was our nexus of fear: To touch it would be death for us too.

We were in awe of tramps, like the one who reputedly lived in the willow grove by the Northern Pacific tracks who carried a shotgun loaded with bacon rind. Yes, bacon rind, my brother, Chuck, explained: This was so he wouldn’t actually kill you when you were shot for intruding on his hideout. We knew tramps left secret messages on our houses, messages hidden so carefully that only other gypsy tramp initiates could tell whether this house or that one would offer a welcome.

Every event, every glance, every crack in the sidewalk was filled with meaning. Dogma was established by my friends in second grade. “If you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.” And, there was World War II revisionism, “No, no, if you step on a crack you’ll break Tojo’s back!” And each of us guaranteed a little good luck by stamping on a Lucky Strike pack.

Oh, and in regard to “The Wishing Pool,” sometimes kids know everything and understand very little. You know this. You were a kid once, weren’t you?
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Postby JillStar » Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:07 pm

I just love that you've had so many of these published... it's fantastic!! And I agree... kids know everything but understand very little. My question is... when does that ever really change once childhood has past... I often feel like I'm still waiting for the brilliance to strike my brain. :)
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Postby dee » Sun Oct 19, 2008 6:04 pm

Congrats, Timber! Well done.
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Postby Saphyre » Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:56 pm

NOTE: the writing of the following included mentioning and alluding to characters from one J. K. ROWLING. I am not Rowling; I had no right to use them. But I’m not making any $ and I’m too lazy to write my own characters. So there you have it.

---

"What would you wish for?" Sabrina glanced up to meet Michael's calculating gaze. Dusk had fallen on the campsite, but she could clearly see the Well outlined behind her stepbrother. She allowed her gaze to rest there a moment in contemplation.

"Socks." Michael snorted.

"You're just saying that because you heard Dumbledore tell Potter that.” Sabrina allowed herself a small smile of acknowledgement.

“But that does not make it any less true. Yes, Dumbledore was my inspiration, but if I had to ask for any one thing which I would indiscriminately be granted immediantly following- I would ask for good, warm, socks.”

“Why?” Michael’s curiosity was warring with incredulousness and doubt. This time the smile she offered the twilight as she gazed into the space beyond the Well was self-depreciating.

“Because I am afraid to ask for, or be granted, my heart’s desire. I am afraid that if I tried to ask for anything big-picture my selfishness would overcome God’s will, and I don’t want to mess with his perfect plan any more than I already have.”

“I don’t understand.” Michael ventured cautiously, afraid to reach to deeply into her secrets. But Sabrina did not seem mad. It took her a moment to respond, yes, and sighed, dropping her gaze to the fire without zoning back to the current reality, but she responded. And that was the key.

“If I asked for my sister returned or my father restored I might mess things up. yes I pray for them every night and wait with every fiber of my being for them, but I also trust that God will restore to me what he has taken when it is time for it to be restored. And I have to trust that timing above my own desire. I could ask for a better sword, I suppose, but I am sentimental to the one I have. I could ask for any number of material things, but if I had to pick something here in this moment I would choose socks- because I would have to choose the first thing that came to my mind before I succumbed to the desire to bring home my sister and father, which is not yet in His timing.” A heavy silence followed this, to which Michael finally answered.

“Socks, then. Socks it is…” Then, because the silence was still to solemn he added, “For Christmas: socks; for your next birthday: socks; for next Christmas: socks;” she gave him a glare. “For the birthday after that: slippers to match.” That earned him the smile he was looking for, a smile of humor and not of irony.

He was so pleased with himself he almost missed her retaliation of, “for Christmas, expectant silence. For his birthday, a thong. A pink and yellow thong.”
~Saphyre
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Postby timberline » Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:40 am

Quite nice. And I think there is a sub-genre of fanzine literature devoted to taking established writers one step further...or in a different direction.
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Postby Hissmonster » Sun Nov 02, 2008 7:17 pm

The wishing pool was dried up. Nothing remained but cracks in the parched earth. What would he give to bring it new life? To see the tranquil waters ripple their acceptance of a dream-wrapped offering?

Todd stood at the edge of the pool, his heart as sorched as the dry earth he gazed upon. Anger welling up inside him. He had pinned all his hopes on this trip, hearing about the magical waters of the wishing pool, from a fortune teller in Maine. "Go to Nova Scotia, into the home of the fairies and where you find a sidh near lush pool, make a wish. If a heart is true and the wish is pure, it would not be denied."

But, he had never expected this. Throwing back his head he rented his fury in one long plaintive wail. He roared until there was no air left in his lungs and he collapsed to his knees curled up in a ball; his fist striking the earth over and over.
Why?

He closed his eyes and thought of Sadie. Her soft lips and gentle eyes. How he had longed to be with her. He only wanted to see her laugh again and see the fearlessness in her eyes. Sadie was his equal in every way. Although she never thought so. Her unassuming manner coupled with the fact that she was a beautiful klutz, softened the hard edge of her competitive nature. He loved her comical expressions as she challenged him to contests of skill. Skills that this lovely lady may not possess, but her talent lay in her enjoyment of the moment, not in besting him.

She had taught him how to laugh. How he missed her laughter, all sweetness and lace covering a richer wisdom of a woman. How could he have lost her? This pool was his last hope of bringing her back to him.

Todd trembled as he remembered her leaving. "You have to meet me half way and you can't can you?" There were tears in her eyes as she touched him softly on the cheek. "I can't stay. Not like this, but you have my heart. Take care of it and maybe you will find your way to 'us' some day."

He brushed a tear from her faced as she kissed him good-bye. He had been a fool, like so many others fools he read in his storybooks. Blinded by what fear, greed? He said he was being practical that he couldn't afford marriage; he would earn enough and then seek her heart again. Then he was too old for such foolishness, love was for others not him.

Too late he realized that she had made him rich. No some twenty years later, still penniless, with only his music to his name, he had come to this fabled spot in hopes of what? He didn't even believe in magic or fairies. But now he crouched defeated and desperate enough to believe in anything that may give him hope again. He looked out upon the pool and sighed.

"I will sing to you. It's all I have left."

Now kneeling beside the shore, he swung the weathered guitar around and sang. He was not the best singer, nor the best musician, but each note was from his heart. He sang of a smile that revitalized even his coldest moments. He sang of the bounty of laughter that succored him in the bleakest of his 'practical' moments. He sang of shame in realizing too late all he had once had.

As he sang, the full weight of his understanding unleashed what circumstance could not. And for the first time in years Todd cried. He made no effort to shield his face, no attempt to hide his weakness. He remembered his disdain for this emotion and shed more tears for the foolishness of that belief. When he could weep no longer, he drew a hesitant breath and started to get up, but then stopped.

"Sadie, I love you. I only wish you knew."

A final tear fell from his face, landing on the parched earth, which moved and sighed as if waiting for this offering. The grey earth molted and turned rich once again as water bubbled up through the cracks.

Still kneeling in place, Todd watched as the pool replenished itself and the vegatation around it grew lush and full. From behind him he could hear the leaves rustle, but was frozen in place. His eyes could not be wrenched away from the scene before him. And then a soft touch on his shoulder and a laugh that was all at once sweet and rich caressed his ears and filled his heart with hope.

Todd turned and embraced true wealth, his Sadie had come home.
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Postby Saphyre » Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:51 pm

I loved it! except you have an error- if Todd has fallen to his knees or is sitting on the ground playing as you've indicated, it is difficult for him to embrace Sadie unless she's really short! other than that... great. just great!
~Saphyre

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Postby Hissmonster » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:48 pm

Rofl I wouldn't call it an error really, there are all types of embraces, he doesn't even have to touch her as it states he embraced true wealth which is the return of his love.

.....but if you would like more description and a physical embrace ....we left him kneeling beside the replinished pool as Sadie touched his shoulder and laughed....

Todd turned slightly wrapping his arms around the solid form of her hips and burying his face into the soft folds of her skirt. Her stomach was still as soft and welcoming as he had remembered. His Sadie had come home.
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Postby Writingmom » Fri Nov 07, 2008 7:30 pm

Great stuff....everyone. 8)
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Postby Hissmonster » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:22 pm

Timb...love Otto. Didn't thing to take it into the betting genre. and I love that you added The Teddy Bears Picnic ( a particular childhood favorite of mine). In my house sign, symbols and the military were all too real. It brought back some interesting memories of snowdays in Maine.

Jeff,

I didn't think you weren't hetero...just that your character wasn't specific enough when he wished.....it's that old adage.."Be careful what you wish for..." He didn't say he want a woman...just not to be alone...so God/wishing well said "Ok" Here's this guy,now you're not alone. What? You wanted something else? You should have said that.


Saphyre: I don't think you will get in any trouble for just referencing Dumbledore and I think Timb is right..you should check it out.

Dee: Wow, didn't see that twist coming. Very interesting though.

Sorry my $.02 is late, but I don't read any of these until well after I have written one, that way I'm not influenced.....

:D
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