The Last Wish

April 1, 2009
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           You know that question: If you were stranded on an island and could only bring one thing, what would you bring?
            What did you answer? I would assume you said something along the lines of ‘water’ or ‘food’ or ‘my portable DVD player’ and not what I got stuck with: A bowling trophy, a vacuum cleaner, and a bag of golf clubs.
            No, wait, hold the line a minute, I’ve gone off the rails. Thinking back, marshaling my facts, and weighing this against that, I have come to the conclusion that the complicated tale of Albert Scissile, the bowling trophy, and the spilled change, started back quite a way.
            It started; in fact, in a grocery store- Smith’s to be exact, in the parking lot. Alright, I think I’ve got it.
            Albert Scissile had a fervent, but anxious, look on his face, as he always did when he was excited and nervous.  He wore a long tan rain jacket, because he thought it gave him a sort of air, and chocolate brown pants because, well, because he liked his chocolate brown pants and they seemed more suitable then, say, a grass skirt. He was continually glancing behind his back, because the thing that he clutched in his hand was wanted by many, and because he had had the feeling that something was trailing behind him, stuck to the bottom of his shoe, for quite some time now. There wasn’t, which was good, as he was trying to be dramatic, and you can’t be dramatic with toilette paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe, trailing behind you. Well, maybe you can, but Albert Scissile couldn’t.         
            When one is in a nervous condition one does one of two things: one notices small details which one normally wouldn’t, or one doesn’t notice anything. Albert Scissile was of the class which notices everything when he’s nervous. A white, probably 64 Mustang, was parked in the parking lot; a very classy, old, white 64 Mustang. Which, by the way, for those of you who are like me, is a car, not a horse (it only took me a moment…). Anyways, he also noticed a silver Saturn with a Minnie-Mouse antenna, and a very haggard looking woman holding a little girl in a pink coat with a very serious expression on her face walking past, hurrying along. This, among other things, Albert Scissile noticed before stepping from the cold, January air, into the warm building. This sudden transition caused his ears to smart as he came across the array of cereal boxes and cookies that sat in the middle of the isle.
            He wasn’t looking for cereal (although Lucky Charms were on sale, and they were his favorite breakfast food), or cookies, or the Chinese takeout which (for some reason he never had been able to understand) could be purchased at the front of the store and was now causing him to gag from the smell. Albert Scissile was not fond of Chinese food, particularly not when he was on a mission, and he was wanted by several men with guns.
            Glancing behind him again he started towards the candy isle. There was the perfect place for it.  
            A voice came on over the intercom, “Erica, your mother is ready to go home.” Albert frowned, wondering what this might mean, when a young girl nearby him screeched, “AH! IT’S THE VOICES AGAIN!” and ran from the store. Shaking his head, he continued on.
            Entering the sweets isle (isle ten) he looked around. Gummy Bears were his favorite, but he also liked- no, he must stay focused.
            There she was, or I, as I should say, as it was me that Albert’s eye rested on.
            I was standing there, trying to decide whether I wanted Skittles or M&Ms when I heard a tinkling sound, and turning I saw a man in a tan raincoat and chocolate brown pants, bending down to pick up some spilled change. I knelt down to help, and he suddenly stood (forgetting the change) and began jumping up and down, almost squealing in his ecstasy.
            “I knew it!” he was saying, “I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!”
            “You’ll pardon my asking,” I interrupted, “But what did you know?”
            He produced from his pocket a small-
            “Is that a bowling trophy?”
            Nodding, he grinned, seeming pleased at my inelegance. The thing was presumably plastic, painted gold, with a figure of a man clutching a bowling ball on the top, “You need to make a wish.” he said.
            I shifted the bag on my shoulders, I forgot to mention that I was carrying a bag, and frowned.
            “A wish?” I repeated.
            “Yes,” he confirmed, “A wish,” he added, in case I had missed the gist, “Using this.” He shoved the hideous thing into my hands and I noted the words carved into the bottom: Ellis England: Third Place.
            “Ellis England?” I read, “Is that you?”
            “Oh, no!” he said, seeming aghast, “Nah. Now make a wish.”
            “OK, I want a vacuum cleaner,” I said sarcastically. I did want a vacuum cleaner, mine had broken not long before and my house was getting dirtier by the day. Just because I never had company doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep my house clean. A vacuum cleaner appeared by my side, and I frowned, more surprised than anything else.
            Just think about this, if you can spare me a moment of your valuable time. A strange man, wearing a raincoat in the middle of a very dry January, and a scared look, hands you a bowling trophy that he didn’t win and tells you to make a wish. Do you expect this wish to come true? I certainly didn’t.
            Wind seemed to be whistling in my ears, and I began to spin in circles, still clutching the bowling trophy.
            “I’m sorry!” the man whose name I didn’t then know, but that I now know to be Albert Scissile, called, “I’m really, really sorry!”
            Opening my eyes, though I didn’t recall shutting them, I found myself lying in the sand, a bowling trophy in my hand, a vacuum cleaner lying nearby, and my trusty bag of golf clubs at my side.
            You can’t know how weird that was. Immediately I decided I was asleep, so I went about trying to wake myself, or at least prove I was sleeping and not stuck here forever. I pinched myself. It hurt. I ran into a tree and fell backwards, it hurt- a lot. I picked up a golf club. Yes, I could feel it in my hands.
            What now? I was forced to believe that I was on an uninhabited isle with nothing but a vacuum, trophy, and golf clubs. Not a very optimistic outlook.
            Remembering how I got here gave me the chills and rather-
            How I got here! I took the bowling trophy in my hands and wished to be home. Nothing happened.
            “Are you deaf?!” I screeched- if it wasn’t, it definitely was now, “I want to go home!” nothing happened. After a moment, nothing continued to happen. I kicked a tree- this did nothing, of course, but send shooting pain through my foot but- hey!- something new to complain about! Score!
            I continued shooting wishes for food and water and shelter and portable DVD players at the trophy before giving up and retiring under a tree, my golf clubs by my side.
            You are probably wondering, among other things, what the heck I am doing with golf clubs. It’s quite simple and superstitious, really. I play golf, not quite professionally, but avidly and that’s all that matters. Before a big game like the one I had in two days I always carry my clubs with me, for luck. It’s strange, but there you have it.
            I leaned my h. against the t. (which, for you non-British Americans, means head and tree) and closed my eyes, pondering. There were two main problems facing me, these: how did I get here and how the dickens was I going to get away? Unless I could find a ‘current bush’ the vacuum, the bowling trophy not being considerate enough to give me a battery operated one, was useless, and, unless it decided to act up granting wishes again, so was the trophy. The most useful thing I had was my bag of golf clubs, though I didn’t know how they would be useful, I did know they would be.
            Deciding that it was useless to sit around I got up and began to wander the island and see what I could find, taking my three items with me because it seemed right.
            There was a forest on the island, and plenty of sturdy, dry wood scattered the ground. Then I got a lightening flash. Breaking the cord I’d been so bitter about earlier from the vacuum I attached several pieces of wood to each other. I tried this in the water, it floated. Sitting on top of it, it still floated. I used my golf clubs as paddles and, the bowling trophy by my side; I started out into the ocean. I had no idea where I was, but I hoped human-inhabited land was nearby.
            As I was rowing the man I had met in Smith’s appeared in front of me.
            “That’s pretty creative,” he commented, gesturing to my raft.
            “Thank you,” I said sourly, “Thank you for getting me trapped in this nightmare!”
            “Don’t mention it,” he shrugged, “No, really, I’m sorry. I needed someone to use the last wish from the trophy.”
            I glanced at the hideous thing that I had grown strangely fond of, “The last wish?”
            “Yeah. A bunch of evil men have been trying to get to it, and while we put a spell on it that would cause the person who used it to go to this island,” he gestured to my island, “we were still worried. So I was entrusted with the task of giving it to someone who would do something smart, or at least not dangerous, with the wish.”
            “A vacuum was safe enough, I suppose,” I said, still fogged.
            “Don’t worry, you’ll appear home in just a moment, and will remember this only as a dream… By the way, I’m Albert Scissile.”
            “Pleasure, I’m… I’m…”
            I opened my eyes and found myself lying in bed. I sat up, my head was pounding, and I couldn’t think straight. I had had the most peculiar dream…
            I glanced in the mirror. I looked a fright, my hair was tangled, and there were raccoon circles under my eyes. Of course, at this precise moment the doorbell rang, as it always does when you look your worst. Though I liked the idea of ignoring the visitor I didn’t, instead I got out of bed, ran my fingers through my hair and, wondering why I was in jeans and not pajamas, answered the door.
            A man with a clipboard and a hat was standing there, a box at his feet. I wondered what was in the box- I hadn’t ordered anything recently…
            “Are you Miss Byng?”
            “I am,” I said, feeling more baffled than ever.
            “This came with a note, miss.” and he handed me an envelope and carried the box inside. I opened the note, and read:
Thank you ever so much!
Sorry for the inconvenience, I hope this makes up for it!
            When the bloke had left I opened the box. It was a Roomba, which, if you didn’t know, is a sort of robot that vacuums your floor.
            I had got my vacuum cleaner.
            I wandered back into my room, feeling baffled, and there- on my dresser- was a bowling trophy, the words ‘Ellis England: Third Place’ engraved in the bottom.

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