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The coin flipped up into the air and landed in the water with a plop. The liquid sprayed up almost in slow motion and surrounded the girl who stared down at the rippled surface. Her eyes scanned the water and her eyebrows were scrunched together. Who was she? I had never seen her before. The water weaved in and out around her but was never able to touch her skin. Her long brown hair tumbled down her shoulders framing her pale face and soft pink lips. Her eyes were beautiful, a piercing blue with a hint of lavender and long black lashes framing the edges. The water had now begun to close in on her, but she didn’t realize the approaching danger. I tried to run toward her but I was too late. The once calm and peaceful water broke against her shoulders and began to drown her. I couldn’t move. My legs were swept from under me, and I fell into darkness.
I sat up, startled from my abrupt entrance to reality, and blinked a few times adjusting to the brightness. I must have fallen asleep on the park bench. I was so disoriented from my strange dream that I almost didn’t notice the loud splash coming from the other side of the fountain. I walked slowly around the spray of water and gazed into the pool. A motionless girl lay under the water, her belt loop caught on a thick wire sticking out of the concrete, and I saw three small bubbles of air escape from her lips. I reacted immediately, scooping her up into my arms as she coughed and sputtered water everywhere. She opened her eyes and I saw that they were identical to the girl’s in my dream.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
“Fine, just a bit chilly from the water that’s all,” she replied catching her breath.
“What were you doing in there?”
“I was searching for my coin.”
“Searching for your coin?”
“Yes. You see I made a wish, but now I want to take it back.”
“Take it back?”
“Yes, it was quite awful and I’d like to take it back.”
“So you decided to just hop in the park fountain in the middle of October to retrieve your wish.”
I continued staring at her in my arms as she shivered and soon a smile began to spread across her face.
“Why are you smiling?” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
I then realized that I was still holding her in my arms and gently sat her down on the edge of the fountain.
“I’m Eden,” she said as she skipped around the water.
“Benjamin?” she smiled.
“No, Ben.” I sat down a bit closer to her, curious as to what she was doing. She had her bare feet hanging over the side of the shallow water and her eyes were scanning the smooth floor.
“What are you looking for?” I asked.
“I told you. I want to take my wish back.” And with that she waded into the shallow water, her long flowing skirt trailing behind her. I walked over and sat criss-crossed on the ledge, watching her search the water. She picked up a few coins and studied them in the sunlight, but then continued to put them back as none of them were the one she was looking for.
“What kind of coin are you looking for?”
“The one I made my wish with.”
“But how will you know which one it is?”
“I’ll know it when I see it.”
I wanted to ask her more but all I could blurt out was, “Eden, why do you want to take your wish back?”
At this she stopped, and looked at me sitting at my place on the ledge.
“Do you want to know a secret?” she asked.
I hesitated but eventually nodded my head. Her eyes were so beautiful.
“I wished that I could somehow run away.”
“Run away? Why?”
“My parents, they left me and now I have no one.”
“Wait. They left? What did you do? I mean, what happened?”
She sighed, walked over to me slowly, and sat down, her skirt almost touching my hand. She suddenly seemed like another person, the way she pushed her hair back behind her ears and had a very serious look on her face, quite the opposite of the cheerful Eden I’d first been introduced to, but her eyes still shone like amethysts.
“I had this feeling when you first pulled me out of the water. It was like I knew you were the one who was sent to help me.”
“But how?” I asked.
“I wished that I could run away with someone, but now I realize that having parents that don’t want you are better than having no parents at all. So I need your help to help me find them and make things right.”
“I want to help, I really do.” What the heck was I saying? Offering myself up to a complete stranger, who is turning out to be some type of head case? She just looked so helpless…and those eyes.
“Thank you. Come on, follow me.”
I followed her across the park until we reached the small sculpture garden with small trees framing the perimeter. There were various statues of storybook characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, and Hansel and Gretel. She stopped at a young girl looking up at the clouds.
“This is Wendy,” she said, “from Peter Pan.”
I stood silent, not knowing what to say.
“I come here a lot to think about her. How she flew off to Neverland with Peter and could stay a child forever but she still chose to come back. I would never come back. I would live with Peter and Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys and fly around the whole island doing whatever I pleased. Do you ever wish you could just get away? Even for a little while?”
“Of course I do; everyone does. But Eden, you don’t have to fly away to Neverland to get away from all your problems.”
“I don’t know what to do Ben. But I know I can’t go on like this.”
“What makes you think you have to? Eden, your parents love you, they must.”
“You wouldn’t understand. You’ve never met them. You don’t know them. You can’t see what I’ve been through.”
“I am trying to help but I can’t do that when you won’t tell me what’s going on.”
She sighed and turned her head away. “You wouldn’t understand.”
“My parents left alright. They left me here while they went off on some never-ending vacation around the world. I live with my aunt but I have no one. No one.”
She was starting to hyperventilate.
“Eden. Eden! I’m sorry okay. Just chill.”
She took a deep breath and said, “Ok, I’m alright.”
She was resting her head against my shoulder, taking long deep breaths trying to calm herself.
“We don’t have to stay here. We can make our own Neverland. Everything will be okay.”
She looked at me and
a hesitant smile arose from her lips. Her eyes glistened as she pulled the scarf from her neck and wrapped it around mine. She said, “I know it will be okay. I know it will be okay because, you are the answer to my wish.”