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The Wish

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					                                 The Wish
                                by Candida B. Korman

                        Chapter
1:
Happy
Birthday
Henry


All eyes turned to Henry’s mom as she carried the cake to the table. In the dimly
lit room, the thirteen candles glowed. Henry knew that underneath the white
coconut-covered frosting he’d find his favorite dark chocolate cake. His mom
always made his favorite on his birthday. She made chocolate chip for his sister
and chocolate orange for his dad. Birthdays were always special at their house.
And everyone in the family loved chocolate.

       “Twelve plus one for good luck,” Grandpa James said. There was a slight
hesitation between the word ‘good’ and the word ‘luck,’ but no one seemed to
notice. It had taken almost the entire year, but now it was hard to tell that he’d
ever had a stroke.

      “Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear
Henry. Happy birthday to you,” everyone sang, more or less in unison.

       “Make a wish Henry,” his dad said, “Make a fantastic wish.”

His mother placed the cake down in front of him and he took a deep breath.
Things had been pretty good for the first few months of sixth grade. He was
actually having fun with the whole ‘middle school’ schedule of classes. But he’d
had a terrible time in fifth. His tics were noisy and the medication the doctor gave
him made him so sleepy he kept dozing off during school. Worst of all, most of
the kids teased him, and some of the teachers took their side.

      “If you cluck like a chicken, Henry, they are going to call you names,” Ms.
Stanford said.

      “Maybe you should try a little self control?” Coach Adams suggested.
“There are successful athletes with tics. Give it a try.”

Henry looked at his friends and family. These were the people who cared about
him most — his best friend Gary, his uncle Dave, his aunt Judy, his cousin Mark,
his sister Alice, his parents and most of all, his Grandpa, James. They were the
people who never rejected him, not even when his Tourette Syndrome caused
him to do the most embarrassing things.

There was the time he just couldn’t stop coughing at a movie theater with Uncle
Dave and Mark. People turned around and scowled at him and then told his
uncle to “quiet that boy or leave the theater.” There was the time his dad took him
to work and he had to touch each and every pencil on every single desk. And the
time he blurted out a curse word at Alice’s birthday party.

Everyone at the table understood and never made a fuss, but he knew that each
and everyone of them would, given the chance, wish his TS was gone. No more
                                                                 Chapter 1   Page   1
                                 The Wish
                                by Candida B. Korman

cursing, embarrassing coughing, or repeating weird movements over and over
again. They would wish him free of his tics, and compulsions, so he wished as
hard as he could and…

       THEY WERE GONE!

Henry felt an odd tingling in his hands and feet. He cleared his throat and there
was no compulsion to cough. He touched the table with his right hand and his left
hand did not automatically fly to the table to ‘even out’ his feelings. He felt free.
He felt wonderful. He felt changed. The TS was gone. And not just the TS, the
obsessive compulsions, the jittery energy, the anxiety and all the other things that
went along with his TS were suddenly, absolutely, gone!

Of course, everything had changed, too. He looked around the table and Gary
wasn’t there. He was replaced with three kids from the softball team: Alan, Ed
and Zack. Alice was still there, but she was UNDER the table, tying shoelaces
together. His uncle, aunt and cousin were there and so were his parents, but
Grandpa James was missing.

His family looked different. His mother was obviously worried as Alice’s hand
tugged on the tablecloth from below.

       “Who wants ice cream with the cake?” His dad asked and all the boys
shouted, “Me, me, me!” Alice stuck her head out from under the tablecloth. “Me
too!” She said. “I want ice cream with my cake! Me, me, me.”

      “Alice, you have to come out from under the table. I won’t serve you
dessert down there.” Mom didn’t hide the exasperation in her voice.

       “Alice, right now. Out here!” Dad yelled.

He was angry, on the verge of losing his temper. He almost never lost his temper
— and never with Alice. It only made her behavior worse. Everyone in the family
knew how to handle Alice, but somehow they had forgotten.

Cousin Mark, who was almost sixteen, looked bored. Henry saw his cousin’s
fingers, quickly sending text messages just below the sightline of the adults. Mark
got up and wandered into the kitchen. Henry heard the back door clank shut as
his older cousin went out into the back yard. It wasn’t like Mark to be that rude.

        “See that,” Uncle Dave said to Henry’s dad (his brother-in-law). “He’s been
like that since he turned thirteen. You have one more year before your kid
doesn’t care what you think about anything.”

       “Well, maybe that’s true for you, but not for me and Henry, right son?”

                                                                  Chapter 1   Page   2
                                 The Wish
                               by Candida B. Korman

Henry looked up at his dad and smiled. But something felt off. He didn’t really
want to smile and his lips curved into a smirk. Dad seems so nervous and
defensive, not like his usual fun self. Why would he want to smile at his dad when
he was so moody and strange?

Alice finally came out from under the table, and the cake and ice cream were
served. Henry and his softball team friends took their plates down to the
basement. They joked about kids at school and talked about how much they liked
Coach Adams. Henry kept quiet.

       “I’m so glad the Coach cut that idiot Jason from the lineup. He stinks!”
Zack said, holding his hands spread out behind his ears. “Can’t have ‘Dumbo’ on
our team, can we?”

      “He could fly with those ears,” Alan laughed. “If he could fly around the
bases it’d be OK, but those big ears weigh him down.”

They had mean nicknames for half the kids in their class, from ‘Susie the Giant
Bug Eater’ — because she described lobsters as the cockroaches of the ocean
in a science presentation — to ‘Vomiting Victor’ after Vic got sick on the bus
during flu season. They were cruel names, but kind of funny, too. Henry found
himself laughing despite his best efforts to stand up for the other kids.

What was going on? Was he in some backwards universe? He didn’t have TS in
this universe, but everything else was wrong! His best friends were the mean
kids who usually taunted him and his best friend, Gary, wasn’t even at his
birthday dinner.

Dad stood at the top of the basement stairs.

      “Henry, your grandpa is on the phone. Come on up and talk to him.”

The other boys continued to make jokes about the kids in school, while Henry
flew up the steps to get to the phone.

       “Da, da, da, Dave ‘er Hen…” It was Grandpa James, but he sounded
exactly they way he did right after the stroke, when he struggled with each and
every word. “Hen… ry… birthday, birthday.”

The old man paused; there was absolute exhaustion in his voice.

      “Thanks, Grandpa.” Henry managed a short reply.

He heard his new friends calling from the basement. He handed the phone back
to his father and ran down the steps. Part of him wondered why he wasn’t, at

                                                                Chapter 1   Page   3
                                      The Wish
                                    by Candida B. Korman
least trying, to communicate with his grandfather, but part of him — the new part,
the part that felt at home in this alternative universe — knew that Grandpa James
was a very sad, old man who could no longer talk about the great baseball
games he’d been to, including the one where he caught a pop fly hit by Mickey
Mantle.

Henry had the ball. Grandpa James had given it to him, but…. No, he didn’t have
the ball. Grandpa James had never given it to him. Not in this alternative reality.
The ball was lost. Someone had stolen it from Grandpa James’ room at the
nursing home. Grandpa James had cried. Henry remembered that. He had never
seen his grandfather cry. He didn’t want to see it again. This new world was full
of awful things like that.

Henry went back to his friends in the basement. They talked about computer
games, goofy You Tube videos and who had the most ‘friends’ on Facebook.
Henry, the old Henry, had never really cared about the competition to have the
most electronic friends, but the new Henry had tons. He was Mr. Popularity.

           “If you can just get the nerds to friend you, you could beat Nancy,” Ed
said.

      “But then you’d ruin your rep,” Alan replied. “Can’t have the band geeks
and the theater freaks crowding up your page.”

      “Did you see that freaky video Nancy and her friends posted?” Zack
asked. “It’s them pretending to eat giant bugs.”

       “Nah, didn’t see it,” Henry admitted. “My dad doesn’t want me on the
Internet all the time. He uses it, too.”

           “Well, you gotta get him to give you your own computer.”

       “Yeah, right,” Henry shook his head as he spoke. “In what universe is my
dad giving me my own computer before I get to high school?”

And then he paused, maybe in this one? Everything else was off kilter. Maybe in
this world he could get his parents to give him a laptop like Zack’s.

           “They got this plastic lobster…” Zack continued to tell his story.

           “It was a plastic crab,” Alan corrected.

           “Lobster, crab, spider…. Who cares? It was gross and they pretended to
eat it.”

The boys all laughed.


                                                                      Chapter 1   Page   4

				
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