The Jar of Wishes

by Bob Zeidman

Jimmy is 12 years old. He finds a jar buried in the woods that contains lots of little eggs. He skips some on a pond. He throws one against a tree and it breaks releasing a billowing cloud of smoke and blue-silver sparkles. He crushes one in his hand and it also releases a puff of smoke and sparkles and makes his hand tingle. He wishes his sister were to see these. Just then his sister comes running through the forest. He shows them to her. They crush some more. He wishes for a glass of water and his sister says, "Like the one by that tree?" She points to a glass of water by the tree that didn't seem to be there a minute ago. They go home and he takes the jar to his room and crushes more eggs. He crushes one and says he wishes he knew what these strange rocks are. Then he notices a piece of paper in the jar. He takes it out and it describes the eggs as wishes. As you break an egg, make a wish and it will come true. There is also a list of rules -- no wishing for dead things to come alive (all things must die) or live things to become dead. No wishing for more wishes. No wishing for extreme things like all the money in the world.

Jimmy uses these wishes carefully throughout his life since he has a limited supply. When he hasn't studied for an important exam, he wishes to pass it. When he applies to college he wishes to get into a good one. He falls in love with a kind, caring, intelligent girl and wishes for her to fall in love with him. They get married. He wishes for a good job, two healthy, wonderful kids, etc.

As he grows old, his kids move away and his wishes deplete. One day, his wife dies suddenly. He tries to bring her back from death in a tear-filled scene. But he knows the rules and he just ends up wasting all of his eggs but one. He is alone. He has one wish left and decides to wait until just before he dies, to use the wish to repair whatever is wrong so that he can live longer. Technically this won't break the rules. So he lives as a hermit in fear, with the last egg always in his hand.

One day he has a massive heart attack. He tries to crush the egg, but he is too weak. He dials the police and they send over an ambulance and take him to the hospital. They wheel him in at the same time as a twelve-year-old girl. He hears the doctors say that his heart is too weak to survive. He also hears that the little girl was caught in the crossfire in a gang shooting and was shot in the spine. She will never walk again. Jimmy still has the egg in his hand. The EEG monitor shows his heart going erratic. The staff rushes over. The heart monitor goes flat -- his heart has stopped. With a deep breath he presses the egg with all his might and the egg breaks and his lips silently move as he makes his wish.

The doctors leave Jimmy and put a sheet over his head. The little girl in the bed next to him gets up and walks over to him and cries because Jimmy is dead.