Fiction: Wishes $1
By Kate Faigen
Today’s sky matches my cubicle: rotten-chicken gray. I shut down my computer and zip up my stupid work bag. Decide to leave my spoiled lunch in the fridge again. Outside a rat trails me for two blocks, gives up and turns around to find someone who cares. At a crosswalk I look up at the city lights, remembering that Chelsea said they made her feel like it was a holiday year-round. I think the buildings look like they have chronic pain. Like they’re standing in agony, praying for a nap or a piss break. I take a side street to avoid the rush of shitheads leaving Asswipe & Company, heading for happy hour at Dickfuck Whiskey Bar. I get lost. I hang my head. How have I lived here for so long? I turn a corner and hear a proposition. A man holds a sign that says WISHES $1. You look like you could make a wish, he says. He’s not wrong. I rattle off my wishes: a penthouse apartment, a put-my-feet-up-on-my-desk job, veneers, courtside Knicks seats. The man tilts his head from side to side, pretending to ponder each one. Can’t be done, sir, he says with sincere eyes. Anything else? I look closer. He has a screw-shaped tattoo on his forearm. I give him some more: a timeshare in Cabo, a Crown Royal water fountain, unlimited Wagyu, my own limo driver. The man looks down at his shoes and I see that his tattoo isn’t a tattoo, it’s a scar. Looks like a fraternal twin to the one I have on my right shin—nasty-awesome bike fall in second grade. I realize he’s not a man, he’s a teenager, a fraction of the age that I am. The neon sign behind him registers: $1.00 Pizza Slice. Okay, I say, handing him a bill. Here’s my wish. Wish-boy lights up and tells me to close my eyes, wait here. He comes back and instructs me to hold my arms out. I feel the hot paper plate, accept it like a warm blanket on a sick day. It’s exactly what I asked for: plain slice, ungodly amount of red pepper flakes, couple shakes of parm. I fold the slice and shove it into my mouth, grease gliding down my chin. Today it tastes like the way Chelsea described the city lights. I stand there and eat. He stands there while I eat. What’s in it for you? I say, swallowing a hefty chunk of crust. I offer to grab him a slice. Wish-boy laughs.
Kate Faigen works as a copywriter in Los Angeles. She would love another Twitter follower.