VIEWS: 147 PAGES: 7 POSTED ON: 8/23/2011
Wishes How to make a wish on a dandelion: 1. Find a suitably fluffy dandelion and pick it. Be careful not to knock loose any seeds—that’s cheating. 2. Take a deep breath. 3. Blow out every scrap of air you’ve got. Then blow some more. 4. If some seeds remain, that’s what time it is. If not where you are, then somewhere on the planet. 5. If no seeds remain, you are free to make any wish you desire. Emma wasted 537 dandelion wishes on Danielle York. The moving vans drove up Saturday anyway, clattering along Rose St., casting shadows across patchy, browning grass before turning into Danielle’s driveway. She stood with Danielle at the end of the driveway as the movers carried in the boxes. Emma followed the boxes with her eyes. Danielle’s mom had color-coded them by genre of item—kitchen, clothing, bathroom, etc.—and numbered them in the order they should be loaded and opened. She was standing in the doorway now, watching disapprovingly as the movers walked in and out and occasionally shouting out instructions. “Level! Carry it level!” or “That’s kitchen! Can’t you see the label? Put it on the left side of the truck!” Emma turned to look at Danielle. “I can’t believe you’re moving away.” “Yeah, it sucks,” Danielle said. Her hands were jammed deep into the pockets of her black coat. She kept shuffling her feet around and looking over Emma’s head as if she were looking for something. Emma wished she would just stop moving and look at her and talk to her. “We’ll write each other, right?” “Yeah, of course, Em,” Danielle said, smiling at her. “Course we’ll write!” “Best friends forever?” Emma pulled her necklace out from under her shirt, the one that read “Be Fri” in a little silver heart. “Of course.” Danielle pulled her own necklace out and fit it with Emma’s. “Danielle!” She jumped, shoved the necklace back under her jacket, and turned away from Emma. “What?” “Phone for you,” Danielle’s mom called, waving the receiver. “Oh!” Danielle’s face lit up. She turned back to Emma, “Hey, Em, I gotta go, I’ll write you as soon as we get to Philadelphia, okay?” She ran off. Emma stood at the end of the driveway staring after her. Was that goodbye? Danielle’s mother still stood in the doorway, watching the movers at work, their green sweatsuits dark on the backs and under the arms. The smoke from her cigarette curled up toward the sky. Emma watched the design the smoke made in the clear October sky and imagined the path each of her dandelion seeds had taken after she blew them off the flowers’ stems, spiraling through the air or lifting on a breeze, settling in cracks or patches of dirt or tufts of cat fur. Each of them flew away with her wish, “Please don’t let Danielle move away!” and each of them landed without granting it. A breeze blew right through Emma’s fleece jacket, blowing her hair across her face. She shivered and looked over at Danielle’s house. Her mother had turned her attention off the movers and onto Emma and was gazing at her suspiciously, as if Emma were thinking about dashing into the moving van and stealing Danielle’s mom’s color- coordinated seasonal napkins. “Hey, how’s it going? Do you live here?” Emma jumped and whirled around. When she saw who was standing behind her she felt like jumping again. The girl standing in Danielle’s driveway was gazing calmly at Emma out of one blue and one brown eye, and that was the most normal part of her appearance. She was dressed in ripped jeans, a pink-sequined dress, a long-sleeved T- shirt that read “Kiss Me, I’m Polish,” and two scarves, one red and one blue, lime-green boots, and a red toboggan. Eventually Emma realized the girl had asked her a question. “Um, no. My best friend lives here. But she’s moving away.” “Oh,” the girl said. “All right. I’m Greenie.” She stuck out a hand. “Me and my mom are going to move in here, actually, we’re staying with my aunt now. Do you live nearby?” “I live down the street, in the pink house.” “Oh, that one! The one Sue and I decided looked like a salmon cake.” Emma shook her head slowly. She couldn’t deal with this right now. “I have to go,” she said vaguely, and walked off in the opposite direction of home. Emma walked until she stumbled over smooth stones. Her toe splashed into the edge of something. She looked up and realized she’d walked, without thinking, to the little stream that ran through the park. She didn’t know if it had a name, but they’d always called it Cool Creek. Many long summer afternoons had been spent on the banks of the creek. It was easier to talk by the stream than in their rooms with prying mothers and Emma’s sister listening in. After school they would sit on the rocks, eating grapes, making clover chains and talking. She remembered one summer Saturday when they’d lain in the grass, tops of their heads almost touching, and traced celebrities’ faces in the clouds. “It’s Drew Barrymore, look!” Emma had called out, pointing at a gray fluffy cloud. “Who cares? Look, it’s Jude Law!” They’d named more and more ridiculous names until Danielle was insisting she saw Prince William in a perfectly round white cloud, and they were laughing so hard they drowned out the stream’s babbling. Nowadays all Danielle wanted to do was go to the mall with Shaina and Leigh, put on short skirts, and watch boys go by. After school she’d meet Shaina and Leigh at the flagpole and the four of them would head over to the mall. The other girls walked fast, and it was hard for Emma to keep up with them. Shaina and Leigh were ninth-graders and looked the part—tall, beautiful, graceful. Danielle was just in eighth grade like Emma, but she looked older. Emma never could manage to get her hair to lie flat and sleek like the other girls, and though she wore fashionable tight jeans and sweaters her body seemed to her like a bundle of sticks wrapped in cloth. Once they got to the mall they’d rush into the bathroom to shorten their skirts and slather themselves with makeup. This would always be accompanied by a lot of giggling and dirty looks from the old lady examining her new hairdo. Then they’d go sit on the wall surrounding the fake garden with the fake palm trees, stretch their bare legs out into the air, and whisper about the boys going by. Emma hated this. It meant she had to shave her legs at least every week, for one thing, and she almost always cut her knee. She didn’t think band-aids were very sexy, especially Sesame Street ones, which were all she had. But mostly she just didn’t think it was very fun sitting on the wall whispering about the boys walking by and giggling if one looked at them. She’d rather go shopping at least, or best of all go to the creek…but Danielle never wanted to anymore. The wind was biting her ears, and her feet felt frozen. Emma stood up and walked quickly out of the park and towards downtown. She walked fast to try to warm up, but it was too cold for her sweater. She wished she was wearing her big green coat that Danielle said made her look like a frog. At least it was warm. She passed the library. She and Danielle had spent many hours there flipping through the magazines and picking out pictures of their ideal husband, house, and children. The boutique of Paris fashions where they loved to try on outfits they’d never buy. The café with really good hot chocolate. Danielle always got cinnamon—Emma got chocolate sprinkles. The stationery store where they would go to pick out the invitations for their weddings and baby showers. Emma stopped at the corner under the big clock which was always fifteen minutes slow and frowned. Danielle was in every one of these places as surely as if she were sitting in the café, leafing through magazines at the library, getting a hot-dog at the drugstore. Emma was back in her room putting away laundry when she found one of Danielle’s shirts in her drawer, left there from a sleepover a long time ago. For a minute she was tempted to keep it as a souvenir, but she thought better of it and headed downstairs. The moving vans were still there but closed up. Emma knocked on the door. Danielle’s dad opened it, looking very tired and dressed in a t-shirt and sweat pants instead of his usual khakis and polo shirt. “Is Danielle there?” “Oh,” he said, scratching his neck. “No…she’s off with some friends at the mall.” Emma’s heart sank. “Well,” she said in a small voice. “She left a shirt at my house…can I go put it in her room?” “Sure, go ahead.” Danielle’s room was bare. Emma looked around, amazed, at the pink walls where only thumbtack holes marked where Tom Cruise and Orlando Bloom had hung. She went over to the bed to put the shirt in her suitcase and stopped. Danielle’s “best friends” necklace was lying on the bed. She remembered when she’d bought the necklaces, and the two of them had sworn a pact never to take them off unless absolutely necessary. She lifted the necklace up and let it swing gently side to side. Maybe she should have been concentrating her dandelion wishes not on keeping Danielle in town, but keeping her as her best friend. Synopsis: Emma has been best friends with Danielle since preschool. The two of them did everything together. But in high school Danielle started drifting towards other friends, leaving Emma behind—and finally she leaves Emma behind entirely, packing up and moving to Philadelphia. Emma soon realizes that Danielle’s friends only tolerated her because she was with Danielle, and finds herself alone. She spends all her time wishing that things would improve. But she finds a surprising new friend in Greenie, a very strange girl who moves into Danielle’s house. Greenie makes Emma think twice about everything she ever believed or did, and although Emma starts to become an outcast at school and her family doesn’t approve, she feels like she’s really alive for the first time. Eventually she realizes she needs to stop wishing and start doing.
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