De jongen met de gloeiende ogen

The boy with the glowing eyes


Blowing away a dandelion. Blowing away one of your fallen eyelashes. Blowing out the candles on your birthday cake.

Throwing a shoe. Throwing a coin into a well. Abusing a wishbone. Seeing a falling star. Scaring a ladybug away.

There are a million ways to wish for something. Cheat codes, if you want, ways to hack the system. You can’t just make a wish out of thin air, that doesn’t work.

You have to do something. Press the right key combination. And a disturbing amount of people knows those combinations.

I am no God. I’m just a guy from Administration. I do the paperwork and stuff. Most people don’t realize their wishes end up with me.

Most wishes I file and store. I don’t fulfill them. Geez, what do you expect? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to fulfill a human wish?

How many hours and autographs and power and money it takes?

And most wishes are just plain dumb, too. They are selfish, egocentric, illogical, and unrealistic. I wish he would fall in love with me. I wish I had longer hair.

I wish mommy and daddy would stop fighting. I wish the neighbours would stop playing the piano at 6 AM. I wish that bully at school broke both his legs.

I wish certain people were never born. I wish there would be world peace.

Yeah, and I wish I had a different job. But I have this one and it’s driving me crazy.

Only in very special cases I fulfill a wish. Take a guess what this story is about. Exactly, one of those special cases. I came across a wish from Jonathan Silver and I decided: Yes.

I’ll take this one. I’ll fulfill this one. I’ll never regret anything more in my entire life.

This was Jonathan Silver’s wish: I wish I had light bulb eyes

Well, why would you wish something like that, I hear you think. I didn’t know either. Really, I had no idea. I just noticed this strange little request, that’s all.

It was powerful, but very small. Written on a white-yellow card with long crooked letters in black ink.

Wished by blowing away a ladybug from the shoulder of a girl named Allyson Bright.

You know what? What the heck, I thought. So I fulfilled the wish. It took me five forms, two autographs from board managements above me, and four days.

(So just imagine what it would take to realize worldpeace or anything.)

And all that work paid off. Because the next wednesday morning, Jonathan Silver woke up with lightbulb eyes.

I literally made his wish come true. Instead of the traditional eyeballs, irises, lashes, nerves, and lids, he now had two glass bulbs.

Even with a pupil in the middel and attached with thin silver wires.

I thought silver would be nice since that’s his last name and all. They were about twice as big as his previous eyes.

Instead of closing them, he could now simply turn off the light. All through the new nervous system. I thought it turned out pretty nice. And he could see with them too, even in the dark.

The first thing Jonathan did when he bumped into a mirror that morning, was totally freak out. He lived in a steady, narrow little treehouse in the middle of a park.

It was built around a spiraling tree, twisting and turning, all made out of wood. Every room had its own floor. The roof was pointy and high; it reached far above the highest tree tops.

He lived alone. So when he screamed and almost fell out of the window, nobody saw of heard him.

Jonathan grabbed the window frame to prevent himself from actually falling and stared at his own reflection.

His mouth hung open, and his face had turned white. Two shaking hands tried to touch the lights. Idiot, everyone knows you can’t touch a burning light bulb.

He shrieked when he figured that out. I mean, what did you expect, exactly? He couldn’t touch his last eyes either now, could he?

For two hours he just wandered around the house, numb, totally lost. Finally he managed to make himself a cup of coffee.

The tintling, earth-brown scent of crushed beans floated through the treehouse and it seemed to calm him down. He poured himself a cup and sat down at the round table.

‘My god,’ he muttered. ‘My wish!’

He switched off the left bulb and touched it again. At least he learned from the first time.

A short pause. Then: ‘What will Allyson say?’

After his coffee, Jonathan got dressed. His best clothing he put on for this occasion.

Pantalon, dark green waistcoat with a neatly tucked-away tie, brown jacket, his belt with watches, keyes and hourglasses, and his shiny, chocolate-coloured boots.

He put on his hat, and, to finish it off, his brass-leather frock coat. I admit it: he had style.

He climbed down the ladders of his house to the ground, got his bicycle – a classic high wheeler – and went on his way.

He cycled through the narrow little streets of the city and tried to ignore the looks from the passing-by people. They stared at him.

The rim of his hat was not big enough to cast a shadow over his face.

At first Jonathan felt uncomfortable, but the more the city-people looked at him, the more he realized he didn’t really care for their opinions.

He only cared for one opinion. One girl.

In one of those narrow alleys he stopped and parked his bicyle against a wall. He stood in front of a door he had entered dozens of times, always with loud pounding heart.

Walled up between two other buildings there was a crooked little shop. Two stories high, dark-red bricks, light frames.

Left, a smudgy window, right, a door with stained glass, and a bunch of bells. At the window it said, with white, dashing letters and a spelling error:

Allyson Bright’s Small Toymechanics Workshop and Shop

‘Toy Mechanics’ was supposed to be two words. Usually Jonathan hated such mistakes, but whenever he saw Allyson’s shop window, he smiled.

He put his hand on the knob, and opened the door. The bunch of bells happily jingled.

Inside, it was quiet. There was nobody there. Jonathan looked around, but he didn’t see Allyson anywhere.

Not at the racks and shelves with fixed and mended toys, not at the counter, not at the door that led to the workshop.

The shop was well-lit: everywhere, in all sorts and shapes, you could find lamps.

Little table lamps with shades on the counter, hanging lanterns by the cabinets, loose bulbs from the ceiling, big standing spheres in the corners…

They weren’t very bright lights, but there was no darkness. Dusty yellow rays striped friendly across Jonathan’s face.

I think I start to understand why he wished for lighted eyes.

Jonathan took off his hat, walked up to the backdoor, and knocked with his knuckles, three times.

He heard someone stumbling, and then a girl pulled the door open. She laughed, but that laugh dissapeared from her face, shocked, when she saw Jonathan.

He smiled clunsily, and he awkwardly raised his hand towards her.

His other hand played with the hat. He wanted to say something, something about his eyes, but the words got stuck in his throat.

Allyson didn’t say anything either. Jonathan saw her swallow a couple of times. She had a strange look in her greeny eyes. The same look as those people in the streets when they stared at him.

She slipped past him into the shop and walked up to the counter. Her heels loudly clicked on the heavy wooden floor.

With her back turned towards Jonathan, her blonde hair draped across her shoulders, she began to work on the cash register and a few assignments. Her hands were shaking a little.

Jonathan stood where he stood and looked at her. He was a glowing dot of dissapointment.

‘I thought you would like it.’ His voice was soft. Allyson’s hands stopped moving, but she didn’t turn around. She didn’t look back at him.

For a few seconds Jonathan continued this painful silence, but then he left the shop. I think he secretely hoped Allyson would watch him as he cycled off.

But I saw she didn’t.

After that, they didn’t see each other for five days.

But Jonathan wasn’t about to give up, and so he searched for reasons to stop by again, like most men do when captured by someone else’s heart.

And after five days, a perfect occasion arised: Jonathan dropped his music box.

Twilight was already setting in when Jonathan hastily wrapped the broken box in brown paper, stuffed it in the inner pocket of his coat, and grabbed his wheeler.

Quick and excited, he raced through the city. Within a few minutes, he reached the Small Toymechanics.

Allyson stood behind the counter and looked up when he entered the shop. Jonathan actually swung by the shop a lot. At least a few times a week. To get something fixed or to buy something.

Usually Allyson smiled at him. Today she didn’t.

Jonathan hesitatingly walked to the counter and plucked the package from his pocket. He put it down in front of her and unwrapped it carefully.

He tried to catch her eyes, cast her a smile, but Allyson stubbornly dodged his glances.

She pulled the mechanical little box closer, examined it and then went to the cash register. ‘Done tomorrow.’

Jonathan started to feel more and more like a flabby balloon that got slashed. And more and more like an envious man that got turned down. Frustrated, and lonely, and unhappy.

‘Why?’ It sounded loud and snappy. Louder than he meant, but Jonathan actually kinda liked that. Why? Why did she act this way?

Allyson opened the cash drawer. She didn’t answer. Jonathan didn’t reach for his wallet, not even when Allyson said: ‘Two penning and eighty cents.’

For a very long while, they stood there, opposite one another, trying to catch or dodge each other’s eyes. A dreary tension gripped the air. Electric, almost, with bright deflecting sparkes.

With every second, Jonathan felt himself grow angrier, and with every second he sáw Allyson grow angrier. Outside the wind increased. Raindrops started to tap on the window, faster and faster.

Black clouds grouped together, imminent, outside in the sky, but inside in the shop as well.

Eventually Jonathan fiercefully grabbed his wallet, and threw her the right coins.

They clattered across the counter, and when Allyson quickly caught them before they would reach the pitch-black ground – Allyson didn’t like pitch-black places – the door slammed shut behind him.

Not long after, a wish took place. A ladybug landed on Jonathan’s right hand, and while he blew the insect away, he closed his eyes.

Jonathan Silver wished for the following: I wish I had normal eyes again

Yes, well, I wasn’t exactly waiting for that. I had gone through so much trouble to get him those magnificent lightbulbs, and he wanted them gone after less than a week!

It would cost me at least four forms, three autgraphs, and six days to give him back his old eyes. Honestly, I didn’t feel like doing so.

So I took his wish, which came in on a huge painting with blatant orange letters, and neatly stored it away. At that point, I still thought that just watching what would happen, was way too much fun anyway.

It was raining, and the wind was blowing, and Jonathan cycled through every city street. He was confused.

He randomly turned left or right, and didn’t notice that his hat blew off, and hit someone in the face a few meters further.

The man angrily shook his fist at him and yelled a few unfriendly words. The last couple of days, they had come up with a whole bunch of names for Jonathan, the city-people.

Quite unpleasant names. Jonathan tried to ignore them, but they just wouldn’t leave him and his eyes alone.

But that evening, the wind whizzed so violently across his ears that he didn’t even hear the cursing. The weather got worse and worse. What started out as a drop of rain had rapidly shifted into a true storm.

But Jonathan was so caught up in his own head, his own misery, that he didn’t see the danger around him. In his brain, the weather was just as heavy.

If you were, at random, to pluck a few of his thoughts out of his head, you would probably read something along the lines of: Why is she acting this way? What have I ever done to her?

Can I help it? I thought she would like it. I thought she would like me. Why me? Why her? Why?

A rough stripe of lightning flashed down and hit a tree, almost immediately followed by a terrifying sound of thunder. If Jonathan’s eyes were able to cry, he would have done that right now.

A second hit, this one much closer. The thunder drowned all other sounds, even Jonathan’s sobbing, if he could have sobbed.

He pedaled as fast as he could, but he barely made meters. The wind blew against his wheeler and forced Jonathan to get off when he reached his park.

Only ten meters across one clearing, before he was at his house.

Leading his bicycle, he fought himself a way over the stone path that swayed through the long grasses and flowers. The wind grabbed everything it could grab.

Even the flowers got snatched from their buds and danced for Jonathan’s eyes. One of them almost decided to get stuck in his hair, but left him fast enough.

Even the flowers didn’t like him anymore! A nauseous feeling creeped up on him and Jonathan stopped walking. In the middle of the clearing. The wind took away his breath.

The rain crushed down on him and ravaged his ears. For a moment Jonathan forgot everything.

The wheeler slipped from his hands and clattered to the ground and he raised up to the dark high powers above him.


He screamed it. And at that moment a third flash of lightning split through the sky down to the ground, down to Jonathan. Jonathan screamed again, this time without words. His eyes buzzed and flickered.

A white light stung through the wires. It lifted Jonathan from the ground, his body shocked and crackled – and then the light bulbs snapped. Glass sprang around.

Jonathan crashed down and with a dull smack, he hit the wild grasses.

Good heavens.

I didn’t do it! Like I said, I’m no God! I can’t controle nature. Good heavens. Oh my god. I saw everything, I had been watching open-mouthed.

What was I to do? Was I to do anything at all?

I swear, if he had wished, at that moment, for everything to be alright, I would’ve fulfilled that wish. Immediately. Without hesitation. How many time and forms it would cost.

Guilt creeped over me like an ice cold shiver. Because this was my fault. All of it.

But Jonathan didn’t wish for anything. He lay in the grass and didn’t move.

The first two lightning strikes both hit trees. The third one hit something electrical. Jonathan wasn’t an antenna. He had nothing to do with other electrical machines.

But the magics of a wish are something strange, and the result of his accident was probably my fault as well: the entire city was down.

The city Jonathan lived didn’t even have that many electrical devices, but almost everyone owned a few. Lamps, of course, but also radios and heaters and telephone sets and sometimes even doorbells.

One second and everything was gone. Suddenly no more music, no more warmth, no more conversations with far away friends, and no notification when there was someone at the door.

But, most importantly: no more light.

The city-people weren’t fools. That evening, that grim and dark evening, they panicked, but they weren’t fools.

Everyone knew the boy with the light bulb eyes. Everyone knew what a strange fellow he was.

They had more than enough of his creepy appearance. This is his fault, the people said to each other. It has to be. Those experiments of his. Those eyes of his.

The evening turned into night, and whatever they tried, they didn’t manage to repair their lights. Everyone asked someone else for help, and no one knew what to do.

Every person that even seem to have the slightest knowledge of mechanics got called out of bed. The inventor, the plumber, the magician, and also the girl from the toy shop.

Less than an hour after the incident, they were pounding on her door.

Allyson, tucked away in her bed, safe and sound beneath the covers, doozing off to the raindrops ticking on the roof, was immidiately wide awake when it happened.

Suddenly all the lights in her house had turned off and she got out of bed as fast as she could. In the hours that followed she did everything she could to fix every bulb she came across.

If it had been daytime, she probably would've been able to do that without any trouble. Within a few minutes, whistling, without even thinking about it. But it wasn’t daytime. It was nighttime.

It was pitch-black around her, and Allysons heart was pounding freakishly loud against her chest. Her hands were shaking, and her voice too.

She was so nervous that she used the wrong materials and instruments, and she got distracted all the time. Sounds, shadows, something she recognised from a nightmare.

No one had a bigger fear of the dark than Allyson Bright.

The city-people quickly grew tired of her jumpy fiddling, and eventually took the tools from her hands. ‘We’ll try for ourselves,’ they said. ‘You’re no help either.’

And now Allyson sat alone in her shop, behind the counter, staring at the window. She wished it was all over. It was a distress wish. That’s what I call the wishes that people make out of thin air, when they’re scared.

Those wishes are always written in scratchy red or black letters, uneven in size and shape, and they usually arrive on thin paper that tears quickly. Ugly wishes. I received a lot of distress wishes that night.

Back to the city-people. They helped each other, and tried to find a solution. Half of them kept fumbling with the electricity, in vain.

The other half had had enough, and decided it was indeed all the fault of Jonathan Silver. And so they grouped together together, and they marched up to his treehouse in a messy procession.

Jonathan had come to his senses by this time, thank god. The lightning completely ruined his eyes. Big bursts and stars in the glass, popped wires.

And whatever Jonathan tried, he couldn’t get them to work again. It remained dark. He couldn’t see.

After that horrible discovery he got up and tried to scan his way to the front door. He was dizzy and confused.

It were those three things – blind, spinning, and bewildered – that prevented him from fighting back when the city-people found him.

They grabbed him and took him. They screamed at him and touched his eyes and shook him up.

Jonathan couldn’t think of anything and so he did nothing. He cringed and listened to the banging inside his head.

Meanwhile, Allyson decided that she had to do something to drive back her fears. With the help of a flickering candle, she started on some simple assignments from the previous day.

While she worked with gears, screws, wrenches, and rags, she felt herself calming down. That changed, however, when the inevitable happened.

After a small wind-up car, an iron wind-up horse, a bicycle bell, and a shadow puppet, a little music box came along.

Allyson felt a strange shock in her stomach when she pulled the mechanism closer.

She had a good memory. She didn’t have to get the list to know whose assignment this was.

Jonathan had brought her this music box a few too many times. Whenever he couldn’t come up with an excuse to see her, this little box would miraculously fall off its shelve.

He thought that Allyson, who got a lot of assignments per day, wouldn’t notice it. He didn’t know that the girl remembered every order she had ever had.

Almost every part of this specific box she had replaced at some point and by now, she knew the box inside and out.

The system of wheels and gears, the way you were to move the handle, the strings and echoes that formed the sounds.

Even the tune she knew: it was a waltz. Dual tone, very simple.

If she had to pick a color for that melody, it would be shiny and yellow, like the rays of light that crossed her shop when it was daytime and the lamps worked properly.

She smiled. And she repaired the music box. Careful and with the best replacement parts she had.

She thought of the color of the music tune. She thought of him. She thought of his eyes and the light.

Now she turned her thoughts around? Now, now it was dark, she saw what Jonathan could mean for her fears? Was that the only reason she changed her mind?

Maybe it was. I don’t know.

I only know that she played the waltz a few more times, hummed along softly, and suddenly stopped when she heard noises outside. She stood up and ran to the window.

It were the city-people, with Jonathan. They thought it would at least be a good idea to drag him to the main square, where most people had gathered anyway.

To get to the main square from the park-side, you had to cross the alley of the Small Toymechanics and so the people walked past Allyson’s window.

And Allyson reacted quickly. When an idea got stuck in her head, she always reacted quickly.

The moment she caught a glimpse of Jonathan, bedraggled, befuddled, with broken eyes, she knew what to do.

She ran outside, followed the crowd to the main square and elbowed herself a way to the two men who held Jonathan. Swiftly, a big circle formed around the blind boy.

People craned their necks to see him, curious as they were. It was a very hostile curiosity. They were curious about Jonathan like vultures were curious about their preys.

The city-people weren’t used to life without electricity. They felt agitated and abandonded by their favorite machines.

They had to take it out on someone – and that someone was Jonathan.

But before it came to that, Allyson intervened. ‘Stop!’ she cried. ‘Stop!’

They stopped. Jonathan turned his head in the direction of her voice, surprised and a little bit scared.

Allyson stepped forward and declared very clearly that she could help. She could repair him.

But the city-people didn’t seem to care too much about that. Ask him rather, they said, how he had done this. And how we can solve it.

Allyson claimed she could.

Grim and suspicious looks she got. The girl that couldn’t fix the light, that was so afraid of the dark, could help them with this? Yeah, right.

They made her promise she could and would do so. They also made her promise NOT to repair his eyes. Because someone had to pay for this.

If you do fix his eyes, they threatened, we will make you pay as well.

Allyson promised them and then decided to do exactly the opposite.

Jonathan barely heard this entire discussion. His brain seemed to work rather slow. His other, non-broken senses sensed everything with much more difficulty than usual.

They held on to him and that was a good thing, because on his own he probably would crash down again.

He tried to listen to the voices around him, but he also really tried to remain conscious.

The only voice he really heard was Allyson’s. Especially when her voice came closer and he felt two soft hands around his shoulders. She whispered something encouraging and guided him away.

Jonathan stumbled and followed. The angry murmurs disapeared, their hard hands and voices as well. The wind had died down. The thunder was still there, but far, far away.

Only the rain softly drizzled down on their heads. But even that vanished when they entered Allyson’s shop.

Allyson didn’t question him. She pushed him down in a big chair and mixed cocoa with milk and put a blanket on his shoulders.

Happy little improvements. Gradually, Jonathan’s dizziness diminished.

The night had already come a long way when he finally disrupted the long silence between the two of them with the words: ‘Thank you.’

It was dark around them. Allyson only had two candles left, and she had lit them both: one she held closely, the other she’d put next to Jonathan’s chair.

He didn’t see it, but Allyson wanted to see him. While she walked around, prepared the cocoa, and gathered the right materials, she kept checking on him.

She didn’t really know what to say when he thanked her, but she knew she had to do something, and so she grabbed his music box. Without saying anything, she gave it back.

Jonathan smiled and searched for the handle. The air filled up with the waltz. Allyson heard the yellow rays fell through the shop and she stood still.

Jonathan knew this wasn’t a good time to test his seducing techniques. But he couldn’t stop himself: when he heard Allyson halt, he stood up.

He raised his head and reached out for her hands. She let him grab them. Their fingers twined together. Jonathan took a deep breath.

‘May I have this dance?’

It was quite the question, but the words came out right. Allyson chuckled and Jonathan felt one of her soft hands on his back.

Carefully, he pulled her closer and while the music unfolded, they danced.

Step, one two. Step, one two. Step, one two. Turn. Step, one two. Step, one two. Step, one two. Turn again. Jonathan lifted their hands and Allyson pirouetted.

The music ended. The box rattled and played the tune again. Again, and again, and again, and Allyson and Jonathan kept dancing.

How long, no idea. Allyson’s candles slowly burned out. Outside, very far away, the first signs of dawn presented themselves.

They didn’t say anything. They didn’t see anything. For a while, Jonathan forgot the numbing pain of his body. For a while, Allyson forgot the paralyzing fear of the dark.

They danced and in both their hearts a light awoke that they couldn’t nor wanted to quench.

Allyson didn’t dare to start repairing him before the first drops of sun hit the shop.

Only when she was absolutely sure she could see everything and wouldn’t make any mistake, she reached for her tools and rolled up her sleeves.

I have to say I was impressed. Allyson Bright knew what she was doing. As precise as she could, she removed the broken strings and replaced them with laces exactly alike.

She even chose silver ones. She wiped away the broken glass, and screwed in two new bulbs.

She checked everything, strapped them in tightly, and even attached a layer of anti-burst on the frail glass.

Last but not least, she polished away her fingerprints. Then she took a step back.

‘Done,’ she said. Jonathan lit up his eyes, looked at her, and laughed. Allyson laughed with him, and for a moment everything was perfect.

And then the city-people returned. It had been a tough night for them. If Allyson had hoped the waiting would calm them down, she’d thought wrong.

All those hours without electricity had made them only more restless. Quarrels had occurred. And fights.

People were reminded of why they hated each other, instead of why they loved each other.

A few had tried to mend the lights again themselves and one of them got electrocuted in the process. He was still alive, but felt just like Jonathan after his shock.

The people were shocked. They were afraid.

Morning dawned. The fear sank. The impatience and anger didn’t. When the sun detached itself from the horizon, they marched back to the Small Toymechanics.

All their hopes were on miss Bright.

Allyson had planned to ask Jonathan how this all happened, but the question never came up. It didn’t really matter to her.

She knew he didn’t do this on purpose and even if he did, she wouldn’t have minded either. It had caused her only happiness. The darkness brought her light.

But they shied, both of them, when there was a violent knock at the door and more and more voices filled up the air.

I think they hadn’t noticed the dark shadows that dwelled around the edge of daytime, not until that moment.

Jonathan firmly grabbed Allyson’s hand. Allyson looked up at him and smiled. A wordless agreement.

‘Yes?’ Allyson whispered and Jonathan nodded. ‘Yes.’

Allyson opened the door and with that, the fight.

Of course the city-people were upset when they found out Allyson hadn’t done what she said she’d do. She didn’t have a solution! And she fixed him anyway!

You promised, they whispered.

You can’t break your promises, they said.

We don’t have to take this, they growled.

We said we would make you pay, they yelled.

WE don’t break our promises, they raved.

One of them had found an old hunting rifle in his attic, and he now pulled that weapon out.

Panic broke out. People ran down the shop. Cries swelled up and drowned the sounds of the waltz. One of the cabinets with toys fell. People got beaten and trampled on and spit on.

Who attacked who? I don’t know. It was happening so fast. I know people cross their boundaries in strange situations, but I don’t understand they don’t see each other’s wishes.

In ten minutes the entire Small Toymechanics got destroyed and Jonathan and Allyson got pushed farther and farther into the shop. In those ten minutes, I received at least twenty distress wishes.

All out of thin air, all useless. I was desperate for a real wish. I would have fulfilled it immediately, really. Everything to make this stop. Everything for a happy ending, truly, I would do anything!

And then Jonathan and Allyson reached the last corner of the shop. Their back against the wall.

Jonathan had put his arm around Allyson’s shoulders, and Allyson had grabbed his arm. The man with the rifle pushed himself to the first row and aimed. Loaded.

And then it happened. A small little ladybug, that had been blown away twice in the past six days, buzzed down, and landed on the tip of the barrel.

Allyson was the first who saw it, and she immediately responded. She leaned forward and blew. The ladybug twirled away, and I received a wish.

What Allyson Bright wished for at that moment: I would like this to end happily

BAM. That’s what it felt like. The wish banged into my cubicle, and almost cracked down the walls.

I had to grab the edge of my desk to prevent myself from sliding down my chair. The ground shook, and a plant fell off the window-sill.

It was the biggest wish I ever received. Written in a delicate handwriting, white letters, on a dark-blue tin plate with curlicues and frills.

Do you know how many people politely start with ‘I would like’? Most people cut straight to the point: I wish, I want, make this happen, now, hurry, quickly. No one says please or thanks.

Well okay, this one didn’t say please or thanks either, but I forgave her for that. I was speechless. I never received a wish this strong.

I’ve never come across someone who wanted something SO badly.

I wanted to fulfill it. Oh, how much I wanted to make Allyson’s wish come true! But I couldn’t. You hate me right now, don’t you? I hated myself too at that moment.

But a quick calculation made me realize it would cost me seven forms, five autographs, and eight days to pull this wish through. And I didn’t have that time.

Most wishes don’t have a deadline, but this one obviously did. I had only three seconds to take up arms.

I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything.

The ladybug whizzed away. Jonathan and Allyson held on to each other and looked at each other. The smiled at each other, even when nothing happened in those three seconds.

I wonder if Allyson believed in her own wish.

The rifle fired twice.

And now I’m standing in front of their graves. Two simple square headstones, right next to each other.

The city-people found themselves civilised enough to bury the two bodies at the graveyard. A row of impersonal flowers marks the soft, newly tamped down earth.

People can’t see me. If you are to walk across the graveyard right now, you won’t see anyone. Even though I am here.

So you can wonder why I took the trouble to comb my hair, wash my face, and put on my best suit for this visit.

Well, I will tell you why: because I don’t care if you can or can’t see me. I feel guilty. The least I can do, is neatly pay Jonathan Silver and Allyson Bright a visit. And tell them I’m sorry.

I never should’ve fulfilled Jonathan’s first wish. That’s what it all started with and look how it ended.

People shouldn’t wish for their luck, and I shouldn’t take their wishes up. They have to work for it themselves.

Jonathan should’ve asked Allyson for that dance the first day they met. Then they could’ve repaired toys together, and written entire books about their fascination with light bulbs.

I quit my job this morning.

I wanted to stand in front of their graves, and say it out loud: ‘I am sorry.’

But I couldn’t get the words out. I sought for distraction and started to tell you this story. And now I closed the circle and I still can’t get it out of my throat.

I’m still here, motionless, and doubtful.

My thoughts go back to Allyson’s last wish. I would like this to end happily. It takes some time before it occurs to me, but then, finally, a little light went off in my head.

What if, huh. What if I would’ve had eight days to fulfill her wish. What would I have done? A happy end, she wanted. But what is a happy end?

That the city-people would turn around and leave them alone. Yes, that would’ve been happy. But doesn’t her wish lend itself to multiple interpretations?

I am no God. Third time I’m reminding you of that. But I know what happens to people, when they leave their bodies. I won’t tell you. But I do know.

I know where Jonathan and Allyson are right now. I know how they fared.

A happy ending.

If the city-people would’ve left them alone, that wouldn’t necessarily have been a happy ending.

On the contrary, it would only have been the beginning of them being together. Not a happy end at all. A rocky start, if anything. Isn’t that the opposite?

So did Allyson’s wish come true after all? But just in a different way I expected?

I sigh and close my eyes. I’m tired. I don’t know anymore. When I look up, I see a tiny ladybug has landed on Jonathan’s grave.

I clear my throat, and straighten my back. ‘I am sorry.’

The ladybug does not move. It landed precisely in a ray of sunlight.

I turn around – and walk away.