The Wishing Fountain

June 5, 2017
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Annie always walked down the street that had the famous wishing fountain. It was on the way to her job at the coffee shop on the corner of Fifth Avenue. Ever since she was a kid, her grandmother would tell her stories about how wishes that were made at the fountain would come true. Every time she walked near there, she would get this feeling in her chest that told her not to go. The feeling that she felt held her back from ever going. 
It was a Tuesday, her usual day off, but she got called in because a co-worker was sick. She thought it was nice to see a new set of faces she would not normally see. There were not many people that came in to begin with. The shop was so small, that not many people would notice it at first glance. Annie was putting pastries in the display case when a customer with red curly hair came up to the counter with an irritated look on her face.
“You know I ordered a mocha latte, right? This taste like you just threw tons of sugar in here. Are you slow or something?” she said with an impatient attitude.
“I’m sorry ma’am. I will make you a new one right away,” Annie replied in a polite voice.
“No, I want to speak with your manager, and I want my money back too,” the customer demanded.
Annie had to restrain herself from making a snarky comment to the customer. She tried to smile politely before walking into the back room to get the manager. When she walked into the office, the manager, Ben, was on the phone. She could tell he was mad, but waited patiently by the door. He had not noticed she entered the room, so she just stood there awkwardly in the door way. The conversation went on for a few more moments before he hung up, more like slammed the phone down and ran a hand through his light blonde hair.
“Who was on the phone?” Annie asked.
“The investors for the bake sale we had planned for next month. They said that they found another event that will bring in more money than our measly bake sale,” Ben replied with a clearly annoyed voice.
“Are they allowed to just do that? The date is so close already.”
“Of course they are. They’re the investors. They can do whatever they want without caring about what happens to anyone else.” 
“Well I’m sorry to hear that, but I have some news…” Annie said with hesitation.
“Great. What happened now? It better not be bad,” he said, moving forward while resting his elbows on the desk, almost glaring at her.
“You see… I made a customer’s coffee wrong. She’s pretty upset about it. She demanded to see the manager, and she wants her money back. So here I am. Getting the manager ha ha…” she shifted awkwardly on her feet. 
Ben pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a long, deep sigh before leaning back in the chair.
“Listen Annie, you’re a good worker, but we can’t afford to make these kind of mistakes. The shop already has little business as it is. So please try harder to get the orders right.”
“Yes, sir. I will try harder from now on. I really enjoy working here.”
“Fine. Tell the customer that I’m not here today and just give her the money back. It’s coming out of your paycheck though,” he dismissed her with a wave of his hand.
“Thank you, sir. I won’t let you down,” she said as she walked out of the office closing the door behind her.
When she got back to the counter, the curly red haired woman was nowhere in sight. Annie looked around the shop to see if she had went back to her table, but she was not there.
“Sheesh, if she was gunna make a big deal out of it, she shouldn’t have just left,” she muttered to herself and threw away the coffee that the woman left on the counter.
Before she knew it, her shift had end. It was time for her to head home for the day. Her grandma was making her favorite dinner tonight, so she wanted to hurry home and help her out. As she was walking home, she looked to her left to see the wishing fountain. There was water spewing out from the stone fish that surrounded the sides of the fountain. There were people crowded around making wishes, she assumed. There were many couples giggling and laughing, probably wishing to be forever in love. She liked to watch the people and see how they interacted and guess what they might wish for. She would stop and stare at it for a few seconds and wonder what would happen if she ever got the courage to actually go there and make a wish. The anxiety she felt in her chest is what stopped her from going. It was like her body was telling her it was not the right time. She knew her time was running out, so she will have to make a trip there sooner rather than later.
Annie quickly walked the rest of the way home. She felt she was already late and did not want to worry her grandma any more than she needed to. When she got home, her grandmother was already in the kitchen preparing for dinner. She was wearing the apron she always wore, ever since Annie was a kid. Her dyed blonde hair was set in her usual perm. Annie walked into the kitchen, setting her things down on the island.
“Grandma, I’m home!” she yelled when she walked into the kitchen.
“Oh dear, you startled me! What did I say about yelling in the house?” her grandma scolded her.
“No yelling in the house,” she replied in a monotone voice as if it was rehearsed.
“Good. Now go over there and cut up the onions. I’m almost done kneading the dough,” she pointed to the counter near the stove.
“Yes, grandma.”
Annie walked over to the counter and started chopping the onions. She was lost in her thoughts of the fountain. To some people, it might seem silly to obsess over something that might not even be true. For Annie, she was willing to try anything to be able to stay and take care of her grandma as long as she can.
The same thing happened to her mother. She was five when it happened. She was playing with the other kids at daycare, and her mother usually came to pick her up, but her grandmother came to get her that day. Annie did not know why her mom did not come to get her, but she was happy to see her grandma. When they got in the car, her grandma told her that they were going to see her mom. Annie expected that her mom was home, but they ended up going to the hospital. There, she saw her mother laying in the hospital bed, hooked up to all these tubes. It had scared her to see her mom like that. Her mom’s eyes were closed, like she was sleeping. Annie walked over to the side of the bed, and her mom’s eyes were starting to slowly open.
“Annie, I’m so glad you’re here. How has your day been?” her mom smiled at her.
“It was good Mommy. I played with Becca and Stacey all day! The teachers even gave us ice cream!” she exclaimed excitedly.
Annie had stayed and talked with her mom for a little while until a nurse came in and said visiting hours were over.
“Annie, you’re going to be staying with grandma from now on okay? I want you to know I love you, and I will always love you no matter what. So make sure you take care of grandma for me, okay?” her mom told her trying to hold back her tears.
“Okay Mommy! I’ll take good care of Granny, I promise!” Annie smiled brightly at her mom.
Her mom just smiled. Annie did not know that when she left that day, it would be the last time she would see her mother. She had not noticed she was so deep in thought until her grandma yelled her name.
“Annie! Are you listening? What’s the matter with you?”
“Sorry Grandma, I was lost in thought,” she said as she handed her grandma the chopped onions.
They had pizza that night for dinner. It had Annie’s favorite toppings: onions and black olives. Her grandma turned in early for the night. Annie was sitting on the couch, watching some TV show on basic cable. She thought about taking a walk since it was so nice out earlier in the day. She shut off the TV and went to go put on her shoes. Annie wanted to check on her grandma before heading out and went upstairs to see if she had fallen asleep. When she saw that her grandma was sleeping, she went back downstairs and left to go for a walk.
She was not sure where she should go, but she found herself subconsciously walking the way she goes to work. Since it was so dark out, she had not noticed that she took a left turn instead of her usual right turn. The street had few street lamps, and Annie had a hard time seeing where she was going. She kept walking until she ended up at the end of the street in front of the fountain. She stopped in her tracks, not sure what to think of the image before her. The time she had wished to come had suddenly appeared before her eyes, leaving her in shock. There were not many people around, only the occasional homeless person or someone just passing by. Her feet started to move forward as if she was in slow motion. The water coming out of the stone fish seemed to have slowed down, and the lights gleaming in the water seemed brighter than they actually were. It was almost as if time had stopped all around her, and she was the only one there. Her feet carried her closer and closer to the fountain until she was standing right in front of it. There were numerous coins scattered along the bottom. Annie felt the urge to run her hand along the top of the water and feel the coolness of it to make sure what she was seeing was not a dream. She reached her hand in, and the coldness made her senses react. The water rippled; making it seem like the coins at the bottom were moving. Annie looked into the water, and it seemed as if it was pulling her in. She wanted to reach further but was interrupted by someone talking to her.
“It’s not nice to steal from there you know,” a voice behind her said.
Annie quickly retracted her hand and turned around in surprise to see a man standing there. His height made him stand out from the few other people around her. His dark brown hair was short and curly, and his green eyes could be clearly seen even in the darkness. His grey t-shirt was low cut, and his jeans were so skinny, that they looked like they were painted on. Annie backed up almost falling into the fountain, but the stranger reached out and grabbed her arm before she fell in. Annie starred at him in shock. He held on to her arm for a few seconds before straightening out and steadying her on her feet.
“You better watch yourself. You seem like the clumsy type,” the stranger said just above a whisper. He was still holding onto her arm, then Annie realized and stepped back away from him.
“I-I’m sorry. You just scared me when you spoke out of nowhere,” Annie had stuttered.
“Well, it looked like you were trying to steal the coins in there,” he explained.
“No, I really wasn’t. I was just feeling the water,” Annie tried to quickly explain.
“Feeling the water?” he asked
“Yeah. It’s my first time here. I’ve been dreaming of coming here since I was little, and I was shocked that I was actually here,” She babbled on. Annie was not sure why she had told this stranger the reason why she was here, but it seemed to come out naturally as if she had known him for years.
“Have you made your wish yet?” he asked, not acknowledging the minor details she had said.
“No… I haven’t,” she hesitated to reply.
“How about we make one together. If I’m being honest, this is my first time here as well,” he said awkwardly scratching his neck.
“I didn’t think to bring any change with me...” she reached around in her pocket coming up empty.
“Don’t worry. I have spare change, here,” he handed her a quarter, their fingers lightly brushing. “Now you don’t have an excuse to not make a wish with me,” he smiled brightly at her.
Annie noticed how white his teeth were. They were almost unnaturally white, but his smile was contagious, and Annie found herself giving him a small smile back. They both turned their backs toward the fountain, glanced at each other, closed their eyes, and thought of the wishes they wanted most, then tossed the coin in the water. The feeling Annie had was an unbearable feeling of happiness. The emotion was so intense she started to cry. The stranger next to her was not sure what to do so he hesitantly put his arm around her shoulder to try and comfort her.
“Hey, are you okay?” he asked in a soft voice.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” she stepped away from him to wipe her eyes, “I didn’t mean to cry in front of you. I’m Annie by the way,” she told him.
“The name suits you. I’m Shawn,” he extended his hand for her to shake.
Annie chuckled and shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you,” she smiled at him. Her smile struck something in his chest; making his heart skip a beat.
Their hands untangled leaving a silence between them. Annie did not feel awkward like she thought she should. She felt somewhat comfortable with the stranger in front of her even though they just met. She did not know what to say, so she just turned to look at the fountain, watching the water trickle down from the stone fish. The very sight of it made her think about her grandmother and how she wishes she could be here to see this with her. The thought of her grandmother made her realize how late it must have been, and that she should head home.
“It’s getting late. I should probably head back,” Annie said, as she turned to face the stranger once more.
“Yeah, you’re right. Sorry for keeping you so late,” he responded, his tone apologetic.
“You didn’t. I had a lovely time with you, Shawn. I will definitely remember this moment for the rest of my life,” she smiled at him, sounding genuinely happy.
“Will we meet again?” Shawn asked, hope filled his eyes.
Annie was not sure if she wanted to see Shawn again, but she was sure about how much she enjoyed the little time she spent with him.
“We might. I work at the coffee shop on the corner of Fifth Avenue if you ever feel like having a cup of coffee,” Annie gave him a small smile.
“Yeah, I will be sure to stop by. I hope you have a good rest of your night, Annie,” he said and leaned down to give her a small peck on the cheek.
Annie did not say anything. Her cheeks flared red, and he walked away leaving her to stare at his back until he was no longer visible in the darkness. Annie stood there for a few moments longer; her feet felt as though they were glued to the concrete. Her head was filled with the images of Shawn, and how bright his smile was. That was the first time Annie has ever talked to a boy, or have a boy talk to her. Growing up she did not have many friends; only two girls who eventually stopped talking to her. The thing that struck Annie the most was that the feeling she felt toward Shawn was not one of friendship. It was more of what someone would feel toward a person they were dating. This was the first time Annie has felt anything like this, so she cannot be certain what her true feelings are.
Annie had walked back home. She took her time walking back, enjoying the night breeze, and the quietness of no one being around. When she arrived home, the tiny clock on the microwave read that was already passed midnight. She had an early shift the next morning, so she went upstairs to wash her face and brush her teeth before crawling into her twin sized bed and falling asleep.
The next morning, Annie had woken up with a slight headache, and a dim pain in her body. The doctor said these kinds of thing were normal, but she still was not used to it. The medicine they had given her was not effective, so she stopped taking it. Her grandmother scolded her for doing so, but there was nothing she could do about it.
Annie had to drag herself out of bed to put on her work clothes. She was not very fond of the uniform. It was a light brown apron with a yellow shirt that looked like mustard. It was the only thing Annie did not like about her job. After putting on her work clothes, she went down to the kitchen to see her grandmother making french toast.
“Good morning, Grandma,” she said and walked over to kiss her grandmother on the cheek.
“Good morning, dear. You seem to be in a good mood this morning,” her grandmother inquired.
“Oh, is that so?” Annie asked, trying to keep herself from smiling.
“Does it have anything to do with the late night walk you took last night?” She asked Annie with a questioning tone.
“I thought you were asleep. I didn’t wake you, did I?” Annie asked with worry in her voice.
“Of course not. I was having trouble sleeping last night because of my back,” Her grandmother replied, sneaking a glance toward Annie, “How are you feeling this morning?”
“I’m fine. Just some slight pain is all,” She said, avoiding eye contact with her grandmother.
“If you say so. Now hurry up and eat. You’ll be late for work.”
Annie finished her breakfast and said goodbye to her grandmother before leaving for work. The weather was unusually hot in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. It made her walk to work almost tiring. When Annie walked into the shop, the manager was at the register, and there were two customers sitting at the tables drinking coffee, typing away on their laptops. She headed to the back room to put her things in the locker and went back out to the floor. There was a man standing at the counter with his back turned, wearing a button up shirt and khaki shorts.
“Good morning, Sir. What would you like today?” Annie greeted him.
The man turned around, and when their eyes met, she knew it was the man from last night. The words Annie wanted to say were stuck in her throat from the shock of him standing in front of her. She remembered telling him where she worked, but she didn’t think he would show up.
“Oh, good morning. Annie was it? When you told me you worked here I didn’t know if you were serious or not, so I decided to come and check it out,” his voice rang through her ears, and his smiling shining bright in her face.
She could not find her voice to respond to him. Her heart had skipped a beat, and her cheeks turned red. Shawn noticed her reaction and smiled to himself. If not for Ben who came out to check on Annie, who knows how long she would be standing there staring at him.
“Annie, what are you doing? Are you okay?” he asked her.
Annie snapped out of her daydream and felt embarrassed for not being able to speak to the guy in front of her.
“Right, yes, I’m fine. What would you like, Sir?” Annie tried to keep her voice as calm as she could. To her it did not seem to work, but hopefully Ben and Shawn bough it.
“I would like a cup of black coffee, and a piece of the banana bread.” Shawn replied as if he was not effected by Annie’s awkwardness at all.
Ben gave Annie a weird look before heading back into his office. Annie tried to stay calm as she was making the coffee. She could feel his stare on her back like he was watching her every move.
“Here you go. I hope you enjoy it,” she said as she handed him his coffee and bread.
“Would you like to sit down with me? There doesn’t seem to be many people here,” Shawn asked her.
Annie glanced behind her, and then back at Shawn. ”Yeah, I guess I could sit with you for a few minutes,” she replied hesitantly. She walked out from behind the counter and followed him to the table near the window.
“I noticed you were a little nervous before,” he said and gave her a teasing smile.
“You noticed that? I’m sorry. I just wasn’t sure if you would ever actually show up,” she rambled.
“You’re fine. It was kind of cute,” he said and set his coffee down after taking a sip.
Annie just blushed. She felt saying thank you was not enough to say to him. During their talk, Shawn was the one who kept the conversation flowing. He asked her about her hobbies, favorite food, type of music she likes, and how she was growing up. They could not talk long because Annie had to go back to work, but for the short amount of time that they talked, they somehow had gotten closer to each other.
When weeks turned into months, Shawn would always go early in the morning to the coffee shop on the days Annie worked. He had to ask for her working schedule, which made Annie blush profusely. When he came in, they would always sit at the table near the window when she was free, and ramble on about anything that came to mind. He visited so often that it started to become a routine for Annie to expect Shawn to show up.
It had been a few months or so since Annie and Shawn started having their dates at the coffee shop. It was on a Monday when Shawn walked into the store, looking nervous, which was something Annie had never seen before. Seeing him so nervous made her feel nervous too. When he goes into the shop, he always ordered the same thing, but today he just went to sit at the table. Annie causally walked over to the table and sat down in front of him. There was silence between for a few minutes. Shawn suddenly cleared his throat making Annie jump at the sound.
“There’s something I want to ask you. I’m just nervous because I don’t want to mess it up, and then have you think I’m some loser,” he rambled on, his voice clear with nervousness.
“Well, I can guarantee I won’t think you’re a loser. So, whatever you want to ask me, I’m right here. Just take your time,” Annie said, trying to calm him down. She tried to stay calm herself because if she showed she was nervous, he would feel even more nervous than both of them together.
“Will, will you go on a date with me? Like other than in the coffee shop...” Shawn asked, holding eye contact with Annie to show her that he was serious.
In this type of situation, Annie in the past, would have stared at him, not knowing what to say for at least ten minutes. Now, she feels so comfortable around him that she did not even have to think about whether to say yes or no.
“Yes, I would love to,” Annie smiled widely at him. Her cheeks were starting to hurt from smiling so much.
Shawn’s bright smile that she loved so much broke out on his face. He asked her to meet him at the fountain at 8:00 P.M. that night. Annie was so excited. Her day at work seemed to drag on forever. When she was finally let off, she had to rush home to get ready and find something to wear. Her grandma was sitting on the couch watching old time TV as she walked through the front door.
“Grandma, I’m home!” She raised her voice a little, knowing her grandma does not like yelling.
“Hello, dear. What’s got you so excited?” she asked Annie.
“Well, I have a date tonight, and I’m so nervous and excited, and I don’t know what to wear or even where we’re going so that is going to be even harder to decide what to pick and-”
“Calm down, will you. You’re acting silly,” her grandma laughed and cut Annie off from her rambling.
“You’re right. I’m just so nervous you know. This is my first date, and I want it to be perfect,” she replied. She went to sit down next to her grandma on the couch because her head was starting to hurt.
“Are you okay? Your face is turning a bit pale,” her grandma asked in worry. She put her hand on Annie’s forehead to see if she had a fever. Annie was burning up. Her grandma knew what the cause was and just the thought of it happening all over again broke her heart.
Her grandma had to call an ambulance. Annie was becoming unresponsive and was rushed to the hospital. When they got to the hospital, there were nurses running up to her bed, moving her down to the emergency part of the hospital. They took her to a room and started hooking up IV’s and heart monitors to check her vitals. Her heart rate was slowing down. She broke out into a seizure and kept having multiple ones that only lasted for a few seconds. The doctors were saying how it was due to the swelling in the brain. They know with her condition that the events that took place could lead to death. There were people running all around, yelling out for the doctor to come and assist with the situation.
They ended up having to put her through an emergency surgery to try and stop the swelling from rupturing her brain. They were an hour in before her vitals started to crash and eventually just stopped. The long ringing sound signaling the heart had stopped filled the operating room. The nurses who did not even know her started to cry because she died in their care.
The doctor had to go out in the waiting room where her grandmother was anxiously waiting to deliver the news.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Thompson?” he called out in the waiting room
Annie’s grandma quickly got up and rushed over to the doctor.
“How is she? Is she okay? Did the surgery work?” her voice was panicked, on the verge of crying.
The doctor hesitated before telling the poor old woman in front of her that she lost her grandchild. “I’m sorry, but we tried everything we could do. With her type of cancer, and without treatment, something like this could eventually happened. We tried to stop the swelling, but we think there was a blood clot in the heart…” the doctor’s voice just faded out.
Annie’s grandmother could not bear to hear what else she had to say. She broke down crying in the middle of the hospital. She felt grief, pain, and regret. It all hit her at once. She lost both her precious daughter, and now, her granddaughter. She could not handle the grief of losing both of them. It was too much for her to bear. She left the hospital that night. Not sleeping a wink. She could not even bring herself to think about planning a funeral.
The same night as all this was happening, Shawn waited at the fountain for Annie, with her favorite red tulips. He waited all night, thinking about what could have happened to her. His mind was reeling with ideas. He knew she would not stand him up like this. There was no way she could. Around 1:00 A.M. is when he decided to head home and check the coffee shop tomorrow.
When he went to the coffees shop the next day, she was not standing behind the counter with her usual smile to greet him, nor was she sitting at their table next to the window. It was like she just up and disappeared. He thought about asking the manager what happened to her, but he felt that he would not like the answer.
He went to that coffee shop on the corner of Fifth Avenue every morning. He ordered the same thing, and sat at the same table next to the window. Every night he would visit the fountain at 8:00 P.M. just staring at the water.
Shawn got offered a job is New York and was planning on moving in a few days. He made his trip to the fountain that night. He sat there staring at the water and remembered the wish he made a long time ago with Annie.
“I wish to experience my first love with this girl next to me and never forget her for the rest of my life.”
His wish now was that she was there with him. He left the fountain for the final time that night thinking, what was the wish Annie made? Did hers come true like mine did? That thought alone would stay in his mind for as long as he lived.

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