I keep three wishes ready,
Least I should chance to meet,
Any day a fairy
Coming down the street.
I'd hate to have to stammer,
Or have to think them out,
For it's very hard to think things up
When a fairy is about.
And I'd hate to lose my wishes,
For fairies fly away,
And perhaps I'd never have a chance
On any other day.
So I keep three wishes ready,
Lest I should chance to meet,
Any day a fairy
Coming down the street.
In the small mesh compartment on the front of her Jansport backpack, along with some loose stickers to trade at recess and a cassette tape of El Debarge, she had a piece of folded up notebook paper. She had put it there so she could always have it with her. At recess that day, when she was getting her stickers out to trade, David Winkler saw it, before she had a chance to shove it into her pocket.
"Nothing. . ."
He smirked and pointed. "A love letter? Did you get a love letter from someone, Charity?"
"NO!" she exlaimed and tried to pull it away in time before David grabbed it. "I got it! I got it!", he triumphed and skipped around in a circle. A few kids were watching and she was getting embarassed.
"GIVE IT BACK, DAVID!"
He was gone, racing across the playground. His legs were long. He won the 50-yard dash at Field Day that year. She had always won the 50-yard dash until 4th grade. But this year, David won. She was second. Still, she thought that she could probably catch him.
"Watch my stuff. . ." she said to her friend Chloe and gingerly laid her backpack out flat on the railroad tie where they sat everyday to trade stickers. She took off. Her feet hit the blacktop with a couple of sharp slaps. She felt the rush of a breeze. Her hair flying out behind her. A couple of kids yelled as she ran by. The air began to burn her lungs. Her legs were tightly stretched rubber bands. Her thighs ached. She knew that these temporary sensations of displeasure would soon give way to her body becoming an engine; No, a torpedo. He had sped up when he saw her get up. She felt her stomach flutter when he turned back and looked at her, smiling and holding up the piece of paper.
"I have to get that back!" she thought, mortified at the image of him opening it. With some luck, she would catch him. He was headed toward where the 6th graders play, an unspoken "no fly" zone for the rest of the elementary kids.
The 6th grade boys were playing what looked to be a variation on football, while the girls had formed two impromptu dualing cheerleading teams, standing on either side of the playing field, trying to out-yell each other. David ran straight into the playing field, among the bigger boys. "David, don't, please. . ." she thought to herself. A couple of the guys noticed them.
"Hey! What are you doing on OUR field?" one yelled.
"Wait, isn't that Winkler's little brother?"
"Yeah, I think it is!" the other one roared.
David started to run even faster. "What did he do now?" he wondered to himself. Charity was starting to get a sideache.
"Let's get 'em!" the two boys yelled and ran after David. Now David was being pursued by first the 6th grade boys and then Charity after them. But Charity would not be daunted. She had to get her paper back. Before anyone saw what was on it. Especially David.
The big boys were gaining on David but Charity was slowing down. It looked like they were about to catch him. They lunged for his shirt but missed. David just kept running.
"Don't blame me if my brother's a jack ass!" David screamed through his panting.
"Too late!" one roared. Finally, they got ahold of him. The three were on the ground. David flailed against them with his skinny little arms and legs. One boy pinned his arms down and the other stradled him, getting ready to punch him. The two boys laughed at David who was still thrashing. Charity was about to scream, but then, the shrill whistle of Mr. Martin. "BOYS! HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!"
The galaxy seemed to have stopped all of its hurtling; its motion paused like an idle video game.
The cheerleaders, Mr. Martin jogging down the hill, the dirt, the pounding tennis shoes, the side ache. . .all of this dropped out of existence. . .
As the boy on top threw a defiant punch anyway.
"Yeah!" the one holding David's arms guturalized, putting time back into place. Speeding everything up again. Charity screamed and ran closer to the scene.
"I TOLD YOU, BILLY, TO STOP. You are going to the principal's office right now, young man. And take Johnathan with you." Mr. Martin said, rushing down the hill, his voice wavering with every step. His keys and man-boobs jiggled. Billy, on top of David, smirked at Jonathan in a knowing way. Mr. Martin finally arrived, breathless.
"Martin, we're not scared of you. . ." Billy sneered and then spat into the dirt. He and Jonathan were now getting up off of a stunned David, who got to his knees in the dirt. He was still holding her wishes with his right hand, which was propping up his body. She pounded out the dirt with her canvas shoes and got there right after Mr. Martin. He tipped the note up to her without looking at her. She grabbed it. They all froze, waiting to see what was going to happen with Mr. Martin and the boys.
The sprawl of makeshift cheerleaders were standing on the sidelines, watching the events and whispering to themselves. The other boys who were playing were also rivetted. The yells of the younger kids on the other side of the playground seemed to be coming from a tv show.
"Come on boys. Or else I'll radio Pechinovski to come escort you."
"Oh Jesus, Martin, calm down." Billy mumbled.
"Young man, that language is not appropriate. I am going to see to it that Principal Vincent knows about the language as well as your tag-teaming a poor innocent 5th grader."
The three just stood there, Mr. Martin blinking about fifty times to Billy's one non-blinking steely stare. Charity and David remained still, even though they were still breathing heavy.
And then, something shifted. The boys looked down and hunched their shoulders. Jonathan scuffed the dirt with his shoe. "LET'S GO!" Martin yelled at the boys. They meekly lowered their heads and started shuffling up the hill, to the spot where Principal Vincent had just appeared. The 6th grade girls started to chatter again and the remaining boys lumbered back into their usual awkward energetic hype that took over their bodies in often ungraceful ways.
"Are you ok, David?" Charity quietly asked, hearing her own heart thud in her voice, as she shoved the piece of paper deep into her pocket. He looked at her like he was going to cry. There was blood coming out of his already-inflamed nose. "David! You're bleeding!" He swallowed hard and got up. "Let's get you to the nurse," Charity said, as she gently pushed her shoulder into his, towards the direction of the nurse's office, over by the kindergarten room.