[Sarah 5th place]
Here is Magic Wish Contest entry one.
The Candle Wish
By: Sarah D. Hoffer
Mother always said to light a candle and make a wish. In the morning if the candle was still lit your wish would come to pass. For years I lit candles and in my innocence believed her words. The loss of innocence was filled with rebellion in my teens. The candle wish became a myth, a useless fantasy for a young woman.
My goal was to become an editor. Beyond that there was nothing. It drove mother crazy to find my nose constantly in a book instead of minding her. She married father and happily found her niche in housework. That wouldn't be my niche, and I fought her persistence emphatically.
There comes a time when you have to shake loose that teenage rebellion, and I learned quickly when I left for college that I'd better drop it or get run over. Mother wasn't there to protect me anymore, and how I missed her! I began lighting candles again in an effort to keep her close. Not one ever stayed lit, but that made no difference.
Though my mother and I could never truly relate, she was my strongest supporter. When I lost faith, she was the one who tricked me into believing. Mother uses reverse psychology better than a professional does. Then when I finally made my editor dream a reality, she threw me the greatest party and embarrassed me in front of her friends. She was proud that I'd followed my heart and not let her traditionalist view change my mind. I couldn't have been happier. Now if only I could get mother to believe so.
"You only think you're happy, dear. If you would leave your office once in a while you might meet a nice young man," her voice nags on the phone. I sit staring at a pile of manuscripts on my desk waiting to be reviewed, but I don't really see them. Instead I see mother pointing at me with a look bordering on distress, as though I were about to do her harm.
I sigh, used to this trick. "Mom, I am happy. The last thing I need is another fixture around the house like dad."
"Regan Meredith Dougrey! How can you say that about your father?" She asks. I can tell she's bordering on laughter. "My dear friend Sophie's son is new to your area. It would be great if you'd show him around. I'll give you his number."
"No, mom! I don't want to be set up. I don't even know this friend of yours," I say quickly. "I've got to go, mom. I've got a stack of papers to read through, and I still have to finish packing for Vegas."
"Vegas? Why are you going there?"
"Some agent's writer wants to meet me in person. The writer wants to know who's publishing his book or he won't sign a contract," I reply.
"Well, that's trust for you. I know this young man there who'd be happy to show you around," she suggests.
"I won't have time for dates! I leave tomorrow, and I'll call you when I get back in," I tell her.
"I'd best let you get back to your work. Try to have fun on your trip, dear."
"I'll do my best."
"That's what worries me," she said before the line goes dead. I smile and dig into my papers.
It's dark by the time I get to my two-room apartment. Mother hates it. It's too small and holds very few comforts: a couch, bed, dresser and stereo. There is no point in filling it up. I'm hardly there. I see no messages on my answering machine. I have an unlisted number and only mother and my assistant, Tina have the number. It makes for a quiet home-life and that's just how I like it.
I fix a sandwich and prepare for bed. I pull my brown hair up into a messy ponytail, pull out my pajamas (the unsexiest ever made) and dig in my top dresser drawer for matches to light my candle. All I find is an empty pack "Guess I won't be able light you."
With a guilty sigh, I change, flick the light off and hop into bed. I hate waiting for sleep to come because I often think of things better left in the past. Such as, mother's insistence that I need a man in my life. Many times, I made it clear to her that the last thing I need is another broken heart. I admit my life is lonely, but men are a wasted effort. Either you can't talk to them, they won't accept you as an equal or they ditch you at the altar. Great choices there!
"I wish I could find someone to share my love and life with," I said before drifting to sleep. I close my eyes and miss the sudden spark of light flickering off the top of the dresser.
At six a.m. my alarm goes off. I lie in bed for a few minutes slowly waking up. One thing has never changed, as I've grown older, I still hate mornings! I drag myself out of bed and walk to the bathroom, hardly glancing at the flickering light on my dresser. I flip the bathroom light letting my eyes adjust and slowly realization dawns. "What the hell!"
I scramble back into my room and stop in front of the lit candle. A fresh, open box of matches sits next to it. What did this mean? Had someone broken in and left me a calling card? I check the other room, but nothing is amiss. Confused, I walk back to the dresser and the unlit candle. The matchbox is empty beside it. "I must be going crazy!"
I shake my head and go to the bathroom to get ready. At eight, I finish packing and leave for the airport. I have just enough time to check in and board for my eight-thirty flight to Las Vegas. Two and a half hours later the plane lands and I catch a cab to the Blair House Suites. I check in with a courteous portly gentleman and am taken to my room. Ignoring the opulent surroundings, I tip the bellboy and search my bags for my planner.
I really have to stop letting Tina do my scheduling. She's set up the meeting with the author for tomorrow. What can I do with half a day to kill? I hear mother's voice, Have fun!
"Yeah, right! But I have to do something." I sit down on the queen-size bed. "Al right, mom, you win." I shouldn't go out in my dress pants and shirt though. I pop open my brown suitcase to find something more appropriate. I find nothing useful. Well, I wouldn't have felt comfortable in something casual. At least I brought my tennies, so I won't have to wear dress shoes too.
I head out and have a cab drop me off on the Strip. Might as well do a little gift shopping while I'm sightseeing. Maybe I should get a disposable camera to. Four large shopping bags and a roll of film later, I head back to the hotel. I'm dying for a chance to cool down. I give myself a two-hour nap then shower, dress and am off to dinner by seven.
I sit alone at dinner feeling eyes on me. I glance up to see I've caught the notice of a dark haired man. I ignore him, hoping he won't think I need company. The next time I glance up he's gone. I breathe a sigh of relief and begin to enjoy my steak. The waitress brings the bill and I grimace at the high price. I leave the total and tip and return to the hotel.
The music coming from the hotel nightclub draws me and I decide to have a drink. I pick a round table where I can view the dancers. I don't like dancing much, but I love watching others. I order a Malibu and pineapple, then sip it. Why is it that when I wish to be left alone someone always comes over?
"Hi." I look up at the dark haired man from the restaurant. He takes a seat. "This must be luck. I was just thinking about you, wondering why you ate alone and I glance over here. Why do you choose to sit here alone, when I know lots of guys would be swarming if you gave them a welcoming glance?"
"So they can be envious of you for coming over without one," I retort. He laughs and I can't help but smile. "What convinced you that I needed your company?"
"No beautiful woman should sit alone."
"Does that line really work?"
"You wound me! I've never used that on another," he says smiling innocently.
"Yeah, and I've never sat by myself!" I reply. "Why did you come over?"
"My insatiable curiosity over your solitude."
"I'm on a business trip that didn't require associates," I say. "So here I sit alone because I don't know a soul."
"I am Philip. Now you know a soul." He smiled and his green eyes crinkled at the corners.
"I'm Regan. A pleasure to meet you." And I found it to be exactly that. The dancing couples are forgotten as I get involved in our conversation. I lay in bed later remembering. He'd asked to take me out for an afternoon coffee, so we could talk before my plane departs later. I couldn't say no; I enjoyed my time with him.
I wake up thinking I had too much to drink. How else could I have let some man get to me. I don't want the pain he'll eventually cause. I leave for Piero's Restaurant to meet Mr. Sinclair, the troublesome author. The host leads me to the business dining area and to the table where Philip is sitting. "You're Mr. Sinclair?"
"I am." He seems surprised. Not as unpleasantly surprised as I am.
I pull the contract from my planner handing it to him. "Since you've already had a chance to get to know me, you can look this over. Fax your reply to my office. Now if you'll excuse me."
I return to the hotel angry, pack my things and consider heading for the airport. Maybe I can catch an earlier flight. I sit thinking when I hear knocking. I approach the door warily. "Who is it?"
"Philip. Please let me in, Regan." I open the door to his pleading face. "If I'd known who you were, I honestly would have said something. Would you come to lunch so we can talk?"
"Al right." I grab my purse and follow him with hope in my eyes.