Writing Prompt of the Week: Someone buys a shamrock plant on a whim while grocery shopping. Little do they know that a fairy lives in the pot and the shamrock is her forest.
Be Careful What You Wish For
by Carol R. Ward
Wishes are chancy things. The shamrock fairy learned this lesson all too well, and learned it the hard way. She wasn’t always a fairy, but a careless wish, made on Saint Patrick’s day, took care of that. There were many such shamrock fairies, each bonded with her shamrock, destined to spend her life caring for it. It was, quite frankly, a tedious way to live one’s life. There was regret, for certain, but there was also the faint hope of a certain wish, made on a certain day….
Fiona pushed back from her desk and arched her spine. She wouldn’t have been surprised to hear her bones cracking – once again she’d spent far too much time hunched over her keyboard without a break. But this job was important to her and she needed to put in the extra hours to keep from falling behind.
“Fiona, Mr. Barton would like to see you,” Chantal, Barton’s secretary, told her as she breezed by, already done for the day.
“Thanks, Chantal,” Fiona said, but the woman was gone like a puff of smoke.
Shaking her head, Fiona saved her work and rose to her feet, wondering what the boss wanted so late in the day. Just outside Mr. Barton’s door she paused for a moment to smooth down her clothing. One last pat to her auburn hair, confined neatly in a bun, and she knocked firmly on the door.
Pasting a bright smile on her face, Fiona stepped into the office. “You wanted to see me Mr. Barton?”
“Have a seat, Miss O’Mally.”
Mr. Barton fiddled with some papers on his desk and pushed his glasses further up on his nose. Fiona’s smile dimmed at his serious expression when he finally looked up.
“There’s no point in beating around the bush so I’ll come right to the point. The quarterly figures have been steadily dipping and we’ve had to start cutting corners. I’m sorry, but yours is one of the jobs on the chopping block. Effective immediately.”
“You’re a bright girl and a good worker, I know you’ll have no trouble finding a new job.”
Mr. Barton rose to his feet and stuck out his hand. “I know this is a bit of a shock, but I’m sure you’ll find the severance package a generous one. I’m sorry we have to lose you.”
“Thank you, sir,” Fiona said faintly, rising to her feet to take his hand. Shock was too mild a word for what she was feeling.
By the time she’d cleaned out her desk and found herself standing on the sidewalk, holding a banker’s box, the shock had turned to numb resignation.
“Pretty flower for a pretty lady?”
A bright green plant with a smattering of white blossoms was thrust almost right under her nose.
“Everyone needs a shamrock on St. Paddy’s Day,” the raggedy old woman told her.
“Oh, I don’t think–”
“These are special shamrocks. They’re fairy shamrocks, come all the way from Ireland.”
Fiona took a better look at the woman and took in her threadbare coat, unbrushed hair, and rusted shopping cart with several potted plants in it. Here was someone who had it even worse than her.
“How much?” she asked in resignation.
Beaming, the woman said, “For you, just five dollars.”
Setting her box down, Fiona dug around in her purse and came up with a crumpled five dollar bill. Handing it over, she took the plant in exchange and placed it on top of her things in the box.
“Bless you child,” the woman called after her as she started the long walk to her apartment. “And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.”
By the time Fiona reached her apartment, depression had set in. She didn’t have much in her savings account, what was she going to do? Sniffling back a few tears, she set the box on the table and retrieved the messages from her answering machine. Three calls from telemarketers, one call from her mother with a laundry list of complaints, and the fifth…
Fiona plunked down in a chair as she listened in disbelief to the fifth message, the one from her boyfriend Lyle.
“Hey babe. Look, I gotta tell you. Things just haven’t been good between us lately. You know what I mean? Anyway, I think I’m just gonna take a pass on this whole relationship thing. No hard feelings, right? And hey, if you ever want to hook up to just … you know… give me a call.”
“Asshole,” she muttered. Never mind that she’d been thinking of dumping him herself, it still stung.
With a heavy sigh she got to her feet. Picking up the plant she glanced around the apartment, trying to decide where to put it. There was a small table in front of one of the windows and she placed it there, in a ray of light from the setting sun.
“What did that woman call you?” she mused. “A fairy shamrock? Too bad you aren’t a wishing shamrock. I could wish for a new life – a nice, quiet, uncomplicated life.”
The shamrock seemed to shimmer in the light as a green mist wafted down in the empty apartment.
Wishes are chancy things. The new shamrock fairy learned this lesson all too well, and learned it the hard way. She wasn’t always a fairy, but a careless wish, made on Saint Patrick’s day, took care of that. There were many such shamrock fairies, each bonded with her shamrock, destined to spend her life caring for it. It was, quite frankly, a tedious way to live one’s life. There was regret, for certain, but there was also the faint hope of a certain wish, made on a certain day….
Thanks for reading! Check back on Monday for the next weekly writing prompt.