One Wish to Use

There once was a girl who found a fairy trapped in the TV. At first, she did not think it was a real fairy, but when she tried to change the channel, the fairy remained on the screen, banging her small hands against the glass.

 After unplugging the TV, the girl ran to her room to grab her baseball bat, the one she kept by her door in case her sister invited her to play, and used it to break the screen and free the fairy.

“How did you get in there?” she asked from the edge of the wreckage.

“A practical joke with a wood sprite gone wrong.” The fairy stretched her tiny arms and flexed her shimmery wings. “To thank you for freeing me, I will give you one wish.” She cupped her hands, chanted a spell, and blew a long breath between her fingers. “Wish well.”

She handed the girl a globe, small and sliver and wispy. Then she flew to the forest behind the house.

The girl was delighted with her wish and took it everywhere. She admired its many layers. She loved how it felt solid but looked like clouds. She adored how it fit right in her hand or tucked neatly in her pocket.

Soon, the girl’s excitement about her wish became too much to keep to herself.

She went to her brother and said, “The fairy from the TV gave me a wish. Would you like to share it with me?”

He did not take his eyes off his phone. “Go away.”

Then she went to her sister and said, “The fairy from the TV gave me a wish. Would you like to share it with me?”

“What does that even mean?” Her sister slammed buttons on the controller in her hands. “Actually, I don’t want to know.”

The girl sat on the front steps and waited the long hours until her parents came home. “Mom, dad, the fairy from the TV—”

“We’re busy.” Her mother focused on sorting mail, while her father pulled out boxes of frozen food to microwave.

“We both had long days.”

Even the dog had no interest in her wish, preferring instead to bark at the wind. The cat, as usual, was nowhere to be found.

For the rest of the evening, the girl carried around her wish, marveling at it and protecting it from harm. She traveled with it from room to room, its silvery glow brighter than the many devices whose screens were always aglow.

Just before dinner, her mother’s yell brought the family to the den.

“What happened in here?” She pointed to the broken pieces of the TV screen covering the floor.

“I freed the fairy trapped in our TV and look what she gave me.” The girl help up her wish.

“How come you got a wish?” her brother asked, for once looking not at his phone but at the wish in his younger sister’s hands.

“It isn’t fair,” her sister said. “I want a wish too.”

“There should be wishes for all of us,” her mother said. “Think of what we could wish for: a bigger house, new cars, early retirement… a new TV.”

Her father clapped his hands together. “We will trap the fairy and demand we all get wishes.”

The girl waved her silver globe. “But I have a wish I want to share.”

“No one wants your wish,” her sister said, “when we all could have our own.”

With her mother’s supervision, the girl cleaned up the mess from the broken screen while the rest of the family went into the forest to set a trap for the fairy.

After three hours, they heard high-pitched screams. The family gathered around the trap.

“We caught you,” her father said. “Now, give us all wishes.”

“Let me out!” the fairy cried.

“First give us our wishes, then we will let you go,” her mother said.

“Let me out!” the fairy yelled.

“We want our wishes,” her brother and sister sang, dancing around the fairy.

“Let me out!” the fairy screamed.

The family grew tired of the fairy’s shrieks and went into the house to plan what to do next.

The girl crept out the back door and snuck to the fairy.

She jumped up and down, but the trap was too high. She climbed a nearby tree, but the branch was too far. She looked in the shed, but the tools were too heavy.

Then she took out her wish and held it up for the fairy to see. “Would you like to share my wish?”

“Your wish would be wasted on me.”

The girl looked at the globe in her hands, the object she had come to love more than the idea of a wish itself. She thought about how her family wanted their own wishes. She supposed that, yes, they might need a bigger house or new cars or early retirement, whatever that was. But then she considered the fairy and how it was unfair to be trapped again so soon after being freed.

“I wish for the fairy to be free.” She held the silver globe above her head and let it tumble out of her hand.

Her wish shattered with the sound of breaking glass as silver smoke filled the air.

The fairy flew from the ruined trap, clumps of broken wish sticking to her. “Humans. They never listen.” She shook herself off, spraying silver dust everywhere. “The point was your family should have let me out. They had a lesson to leThe girl brushed silver dust from her hands. “Since I freed you again, can I have another w“Wishes are not so easy to grant, you know. Next time you get one, use it for yourself.”