Two Wishes

If you were granted one wish, what would it be?  I always knew what mine would be.  When I was eight, my little brother was struck by a car and killed.  His death devastated my parents, and it tore them apart.  Neither had done anything wrong, but every moment together reminded them of what they had lost.  They didn’t stop loving me or my sister, but they couldn’t stand to be together any longer.  So my family fell apart.  I always wished I could go back and save him from that accident, to save my family all that pain.

One day, I was given the chance.  A strange man, dressed all in black with a trench coat and wide-brimmed hat, came up to me.  If I had still been a child, he would have made me nervous.  He looked exactly like the person your parents and teachers warned you to stay away from.  Instead, in my twenties, I just thought he looked odd.  He peered at me from under his hat and asked me what I wished for.

I don’t know why I answered.  Looking back, it seems so absurd.  Normally, I would have just walked past a stranger asking such a bizarre question.  But there was something about him that I cannot quite explain even now.  Even while the question seemed absurd, it was also genuine.  I answered without hesitation.  He nodded, and I was suddenly eight years old again.

I should say, I was eight years old in body, but I remembered everything that had happened.  And I knew what day it was.  I looked at the clock in my 2nd grade classroom: 2:45.  In less than an hour, my brother would be killed.  He was already at home after his half day kindergarten class.  He would be playing in the front yard, and the driver would jump the curb.  Everything would happen again.  I had to get home.

Fifteen minutes took forever.  Finally, the bell rang, and I jumped out of my chair and headed for the door.  I ran back to my house as fast as I could.  The bus had gotten there after he had already been killed.  Yet it was 20 minutes by foot, so I ran.

As I got close, I could see my brother in front of the house.  He was waiting for me to get home from school.  He always waited for me outside.  I tried to yell at him to go inside, but he thought I was just playing.  I heard a car behind me and ran even faster.  As I got to our yard, it sounded as though it was right behind me.  My brother ran over to me, and I shoved him as hard as I could just as the car hit me.

There was sharp, intense pain and then nothing.  I heard my brother scream.  I could see the scene, though it was blurry.  My brother was sobbing.  My mother came out and ran to my body, screaming herself.

Days and years passed by, oblivion punctuated with periods of awareness.  Those times of awareness were enough to tell the story.  My parents did not fall apart.  They leaned on each other for support.  But they couldn’t help blaming my brother.  They didn’t want to, but they thought that only if he hadn’t been outside, I wouldn’t have thrown myself in front of the car.  They didn’t say that to him, of course.  But he felt it.  And his own guilt was a terrific burden.  He could never forget the sight of me dying right in front of him.

I had saved my brother, but for what?  Ten years later, he did to himself what the car had failed to do.  Now my parents had lost both of their sons.  And my sister, both of her brothers.  My moments of awareness no longer show me what is going on with my family.  And I do not know if my brother is somewhere watching all of this.

If I had one wish now, it would be for oblivion to take over completely, for no more awareness.

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