The child had wished so often, so much, so hard, that when a cube materialized in front of him; he was at a loss for words as to what to do. He couldn’t shout huzzah, for he knew not what was in front of him and he couldn’t cower because the cube didn’t do anything… it just sat there.
Upon touching it, the child found that the metal was cold, but not painfully so. Just that odd damp cold of a coffee tin that’s been hidden away from the sunlight Gollum-style for lord knows how long.
He thought back to what he had actually wished for… a way out of his predicament. Not unusual for a child who lives with step parents and is getting the Harry Potter-Cinderella treatment. The fact is that Jim and Lana weren’t that bad… it’s just they weren’t that good either. And he felt so out of place. A runaway piece from another jigsaw.
He was a B, occasionally B+, student. But in the fifth grade, As and Bs are nowhere near as important as Zzzzs or the oooohhhs and ahhhhs from the latest video game. When you’re 10, you want that constant wonder that comes not only from seeing Santa at the mall, but from him knowing exactly what you want, bringing to question that fib people are spreading about Santa being fake. If he was fake, how did the “fake” Santa know that all he wanted for Christmas was to see his mom and dad… his real mom and dad, and I dunno… maybe have some cake… and chocolate milk… and ice cream… and a hug. Just one.
Snapping back to his current predicament, Michael continued to look at the cube. Although the edges were pretty sharp, it was due to it being so smooth and so perfect. But again, it didn’t do much of anything. It just sat there. But that was enough. Part of him felt guilty that it appeared because he was wishing instead of having come forth due to prayer. He remembered Mrs. Bartlett and how she always said that you can wish all you like but it’s only through prayer that a miracle can happen. He looked at the cube and wasn’t sure if it was a miracle, but he had done it without a prayer. Was that a bad thing?
A crackle hissed in the air and suddenly static charged all over his body. He felt the hair on his arms stand up and a dot appeared out of nothing. It was a hole… in the middle of the air. And it was growing.
Frozen on the spot, he would have run if his body hadn’t decided to lock up on him. The dot grew larger. His muscles seized harder. And when a 6-foot window into nothing opened, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen stepped through that hole that came from nothing.
She looked around and then down and saw the boy sitting in front of the cube.
“Ah, there it is,” she said casually. She knelt at the boy’s level before she spoke to him. “Thank you, very much… Michael.” When she’d said his name, she’d closed her eyes a moment as if searching for something she’d lost. “This is very important to me. Not sure how it slipped my hands and landed here.”
Lost for words and barely able to breathe, Michael just sat there, staring at the beautiful blonde woman, her short crop blonde hair, her periwinkle eyes, and her kind smile. Again she closed her eyes as if searching for something. “That’s very sad about your parents. But I have something that might help.”
Standing up and leaning her head into the hole that opened to nothing, she called out something Michael couldn’t understand. The boy heard when something was caught and she came back out of the hole with something that looked like a digital clock.
“Open your hands,” she said with the kindest voice and the boy could only obey.
The clock marked 5,000,000 and she shook her head. Pulling out a piece of metal, she touched the surface of it and it came alive with light and color and numbers and symbols and hundreds of things Michael didn’t think metal should do. She pulled out a monocle of sorts and when she put it on, it also came alive with colors and lights. Looking out the bedroom window, she kept tapping and tapping until she pressed two fingers on the screen, spread them out and wiped it all clean.
Looking back at the clock in Michael’s hands, the clock now read 5 and she gave a satisfied smile. “That’s my thanks for having found this,” she said with a smile. She gave his hair a rub and held his cheek for a second or two and Michael couldn’t help but swoon at the beautiful woman. With a chuckle, she got up, walked through the hole, poked her hand out to wave goodbye, and was gone.
Still in shock, he didn’t know what to do with the clock that ticked down in his hand. But when it reached zero, he heard the downstairs doorbell. He heard his stepmother walk down and answer the door. He heard her talking to two people. Steps then came up the stairs and a gentle knock on the door.
“Michael, honey… there’s someone here to see you.”
Later on, Michael would come to accept the simple fact that some prayers need not be said to be answered.