Cara Michaels’ Picture Choice: 2
Title: Dandelion Wishes
I woke inside a dream. Alert, but hazy. Aware, but not. I couldn’t be awake, but I shouldn’t know otherwise.
Tall grass and trees surrounded me, capped high above by bright blue skies. I felt out of place, spinning around and seeking an anchor. The unfamiliar world slowed and finally stopped on a familiar face.
I recognized the girl before me, but I couldn’t find a name to go with her. Dark brown hair surrounded her like a short cape, ending just above her elbows. In her hand she held an enormous dandelion. Not the flower, but the cottony seed stuff I’d made wishes on as a kid.
She blew on the dandelion, sending fluffy seeds into the wind. The bloom, nearly as big has her face, took three puffs to clear.
“Must be one helluva wish,” I said.
She looked at me with knowing eyes and nodded, her generous lips kicking up into a sly smile. “Oh, it is.”
“I suppose I can’t ask.” My mind struggled to find her name.
She shook her head with a laugh. “You always told me that ruins any chance of the wish coming true.”
“Mmhmm,” she said.
“Is it an important wish?”
Her eyes, dark and quite suddenly serious, focused on me, all traces of humor gone. “The most important wish I’ve ever made.”
The gravity of her manner unsettled me.
“I hope it comes true then.” Internally, I hoped I’d wake up soon.
She smiled, a sad ghost of previous efforts.
“You’ll be the first to know,” she said.
I cocked my head and gave up. I felt slightly embarrassed to ask, but I felt equally certain I needed her answer. “I know you, don’t I?”
Shock and hurt chased across her face.
“Not as well as you should, I guess.”
“Don’t be. It’s my fault.”
Dandelion fluff swirled back to me with a change in the direction of the breeze.
“I’m the one who turned away.” She reached out and plucked a seed from my hair. She held it an inch or two from my lips. “Make your wish.”
I obeyed the urgency in her tone and foolishly blew. The seed danced away, bobbing along.
“I don’t feel the wind,” I said. “I didn’t notice before.”
“What did you wish for?” she asked. “Tell me, tell me.”
I laughed at her eagerness, taken back in time. “I can’t tell you that, Janey.”
I froze. She stood as still, her eyes wide with a dreadful sort of hope.
“Jane?” I whispered.
“My wish came true,” she said. “Please remember me. I love you.”
I woke, gasping, her name on my lips.
My daughter. I hadn’t seen her for half her life and now she haunted my dreams. I pushed free of the tangle of sheets and stumbled to my feet. I couldn’t remember much of the dream beyond the young woman who’d claimed to be my estranged offspring, and even those little bits seemed to fade as quickly as I focused on them.
Staggering into the kitchen, I poured three or four fingers of whiskey to drown out the little I could recall. I took the drink out onto the balcony with me and downed the liquor in one long pull, barely noticing the burn. The glass hit the wood railing hard as I clumsily put it aside.
The breeze stirred and as I stood there a dandelion seed landed in the glass, soaking up the liquid residue and sinking down. I plucked the sodden bits from the glass and stared. Something nagged at me, a memory or sense of déjà vu, but I couldn’t place it.
The liquor warmed my body and dulled my brain, just the way I liked it.
I swiped the fluff on the pants of my pajamas and headed back to bed.
If I got my wish, I wouldn’t remember a damn thing about the night when I next woke.
Cara Michaels is the author of the Gaea’s Chosen sci-fi romance series and host of the #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge.