Every year for as long as she can remember, someone always makes a point to remind Noella Faber to make a wish before blowing out the candles on her birthday cake.
“Don’t tell anyone what you wished for or it won’t come true!” that person then says.
So Noella has always kept her wishes to herself. She has never told anyone that she had secretly wished one year that one of her presents would be a Malibu Barbie, or that ten years later she wanted Trevor Daly to ask her to the prom, that she had hoped to one day be a famous singer, that she asked the universe to send the man of her dreams her way over the course of the next twelve months, that she longed to spend her thirtieth birthday in Paris, or any of her other wishes. ‘Do as you’re told, keep your mouth, and all of your dreams will come true’ she believed.
But she couldn’t have been more wrong. None of her wishes came true, not even the Malibu Barbie one. She did get a doll that year, but it was one of those cheap, ugly knockoffs from a discount store. It looked more like a Trailer Park Tammy than it did a Malibu Barbie, and that has pretty much been the theme of Noella’s whole life. Close, but not quite there, was as far as she ever got to her dreams.
She spent prom night playing cards in her bedroom with the other unattractive girls from her class. She became a high school music teacher always under the threat of cutbacks instead of a rock star. She’s still waiting on the universe to follow through on her Prince Charming request. And the closest she’s ever been to Paris, France was that one time she passed through the town of Paris, Ontario on her way to Toronto.
She was fully prepared not to wish for anything this year, but then it occurred to her that perhaps she had been going about this wish business the wrong way. If the things she wished for weren’t going to come true, then why not wish for the opposite? Instead of wishing for a man, she should wish for people to shout “Look at the ugly old spinster!” as she passed them on the street. Rather than wishing for a fabulous career, she should wish for more students who refuse to practise the tuba. And in place of wishing for adventures in travel, she should wish for a natural disaster that would keep her trapped in her home for days.
Maybe this won’t lead to her getting what she wants out of life, but at least she knows that with her track record the nasty things she wished for this year don’t stand a chance of coming true and that has to count for something.