Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | March 26, 2008

Wishes

Sovetskaya, Kyrgyzstan. November 1, 2004.
Sovetskaya Soccer Game

Part 1: Doorface

Part 2: Frog in Hand

The frog looked at the leaf in my hand, and blinked once. It didn’t move.

“Come on, let’s go,” Alec urged from the doorway. He was standing right in front of the blue painted monster face, so all I could see was part of its left eye. While I was looking at that eye (was it looking back at me?) the frog jumped onto my hand.

“Got him!” I shouted.

The frog grinned. I know that’s not really possible, but it’s what I saw. Its little eyes opened wide and the corners of its mouth drew back. For a second, the grin was just like the face on the door. If the frog had pointy teeth, the faces would have been identical.

I started to tell Alec what I saw, but he was already halfway back to the river. I carried the frog as carefully as I could, using my free hand to wipe the sweat dripping from my hair. It had been hotter in that shed than it was outside.

Alec was standing by the fallen tree where we’d crossed. “Ivan, what were you thinking? We’ll never get back up there.”

I shrugged and set the frog down near the bank. “We could find some rope, throw it up, and–”

“No. We’ll have to back track to the swimming hole and swim across.”

“No way! My sisters will be looking for me. And that’s the first place they’ll go.” I’d do anything to avoid a broiling hot afternoon picking bugs off tomato plants. “Let’s just hang out here for a while.”

“With the frog?” Alec started to laugh, then stopped. “Where is it?”

I had set it down on a rock right at my feet. But it wasn’t there anymore. It wasn’t anywhere. “Hopped in the water?” I suggested.

Alec shrugged, then sat down, dipped his hands in the current, and splashed his face.

“Man, I wish it weren’t so hot,” I said.
That’s when the shadow fell. Suddenly, my sweat felt cool against my forehead. The bright, searing rays of the sun were pushed aside by a darkness that started somewhere in the river, and moved towards us quick and quiet as a whisper.

It wasn’t until the shadow was all around me that I heard it whisper. At first it sounded just like the rushing of the river, but as the shade grew and the pleasant coolness started to feel cold, I heard real words.

“I am free! Free, free, free, finally!”

“Do you hear that Alec?” I asked, but he didn’t answer. I couldn’t see him at all, the shadow was so black.

“Hee hee hee! What else do you wish of me?”

Wish? What? It was getting so cold my teeth started to chatter. I couldn’t think. Then I remembered. I had wished it weren’t so hot! The frog! It had to be him.

“Um, I wish we were back across the river but not near the swimming hole ’cause my sisters are looking for me and maybe you could make it somewhat warmer again. I mean, make the sun come back but not quite as hot as before.”

“My, my. Demanding, aren’t we?” the shadow whispered.

I blinked, and I found myself in a strange, empty field. The river was nowhere in sight, and neither was Alec. Down a winding dirt road was a gang of boys kicking a soccer ball around. It was hard to tell from where I was standing, but they didn’t look like anyone I knew.

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