Once upon a time a teenage girl granted a wish.
Willow Vaughn grants wishes. She granted one just the other night. But now the world feels wrong.
Willow knows her world has changed but how? Cynical and self-reliant, suddenly she feels out of her depth. Though she hates to admit it, she needs help.
Willow is going to have to find someone who knows more about wishes before it's too late. If not, she could be trapped in a world where she doesn't belong.
One Bad Wish is a short novel in the Teenage Fairy Godmother series which features snarky, spunky Willow Vaughn.
"I loved the setup…"– From Tangent Online Review of Wishes, Edited by Rebecca Moestra.
Being a fairy godmother isn't something I ever intended to become. I mean, I wasn't born that way—now that's a scary thought, me in a fairy dress and sparkles all over me as a baby. Yuck. No, I wished the fairy godmother gig into being kind of by accident, and I've been stuck granting wishes for the last six months or so.
It's not all bad. Basically, I'd been lucky—or unlucky, depending upon your point of view—to have made the wish that started it all. In a nutshell, I met this creepazoid old guy at the Farmer's Market who told me to make a wish. So I stupidly wished to make people happy, meaning someone, anyone, because although I had done exactly what I had told my mother I said I would do, she was still not happy. And wham. There I was. A Fairy Godmother. There's more, of course, but that's a whole other story.
Being able to grant wishes is kind of cool. About once a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, I get this urge, like a pressure and I have to go out and find someone wishing for something. It's not that hard. I can think about a place that draws people to make wishes, you know, like wishing wells and crap like that, or I can just think myself over to someone wishing. Then I grant the wish.
I don't get a lot of choice in how it happens. I mean, I grant a lot of cute kittens to cute kids and stuff. I've wanted to grant a zombie cat instead, but the magic doesn't work that way. Probably a good thing, because I'm not really sure what would happen to the world if I was able to grant zombie kittens.
But yeah, that's how I think. Even so, I'm not sure I'd really do something like that, but it's kind of cool to think about the implications and everything, ya know? I mean, cute kid wants cat and I send them a re-animated creature straight out of the LOLcat version of the Walking Dead?
Unfortunately I don't get to talk to people about this much. It's a secret that I'm a fairy godmother. Although, would you really go around saying, "Hey, yeah, I'm a fairy godmother now!" Cause that's just weird. Besides, I'd get everyone wanting me to grant their wishes.
It's bad enough that I can always hear sentences that start with "I wish". In high school, at least my high school, people are always saying "I wish this" or "I wish that." Really, really annoying when you're someone who hears about wishes. Fortunately, I can't grant them all, largely because I don't want to, not to mention that most of the things people say aren't real wishes, even if they do start with "I wish." But even if I could, there are rules. I'm not even sure what all the rules are. There's this huge book of rules that I got when I became a fairy godmother—a file just appeared on my computer, can you believe it?—but besides being major league style boring it's pretty vague about a ton of stuff. Come to think of it, there's probably something in there about why I can't grant zombie kittens, but I'm not going to go digging for it.
Last night, I think I granted a wish I shouldn't have or something. Remember what I said about zombie kittens? I don't get a choice. If you're there wishing and I'm there with wish-granting power, well Kabam! The wish is yours. No matter what. Even if it's a bad wish.
I've granted a few bad wishes. Mostly those are only a problem for the person who made the wish. Like this girl wished to never gain weight and now she's in the hospital. See, she got sick and lost a bunch of weight and now she can't gain it back. Still in the hospital because, you know, too thin. So yeah, there are problems with wishes. I didn't get a good feeling granting that wish and mostly I do, even cliché, stupid, puppies-and-kittens-for-kids wishes. It's embarrassing to have to say that, so don't tell.
This wish, the one I can't remember and think I probably shouldn't have granted? Well, I was wiped out. So wiped out that I just went to bed right after and couldn't really remember what I had done. I knew I'd granted a wish, but I couldn't remember it, which was different. Not just different, but like really different. And this morning I ached all over like I had the flu.
Still, it was Friday and I didn't want to take a sick day when everyone else was likely to be goofing off anyway, so I got myself up. I pretty much noticed things weren't quite right but they weren't all that wrong, either.
My phone alarm was on a different ring, pretty annoying. My bedroom had lavender and black stripes instead of purple and black stripes. That kind of gave me a scare, but my stuff was all where it should be…mostly.
It was less like I was in the wrong place than that someone had shared the house with me or something. I couldn't exactly remember what was wrong but there were things like the colors in my room that weren't right. My bed was in the right place, along the wall the window was in, and the dresser was still right beside it. The desk was still the same light wood as the dresser and still sat kind of at the foot of the bed. Normal, right?
I didn't smell eggs and bacon downstairs. Instead, I smelled something that was suspiciously like those toaster tart things that I sneaked over at my friend Sage's house. My mom is like totally into healthy food that she makes mostly from scratch. Toaster tarts are so not on the menu at our house.
Yes, in my mom's world, bacon is healthy. We get it from a pig that lived in luxury, next door, and was prayed over for three days before being slaughtered, and the bacon that comes out is made from only the purest of the pure by unicorns dancing in the sun. Okay. Not really. But you get the idea that my mom is into local, organic, and humanely-raised food. She's like this cross between the big time food police and a total crunchy hippy-dippy, woo-woo lady. The first time I heard the phrase "yogurt and granola," I totally knew it described my mom exactly.
Anyway, I dressed. It was going to be a pretty nice day, so I wore my favorite jeans in stonewashed blue and a navy tank top under a yellow t-shirt. That should be enough. I combed through my hair and went downstairs.
My brother wasn't there yet. He's always the first to breakfast and the first out the door. It's not like I care. I mean he's older and everything and kind of does his own thing. Boys know me because he'd bring them by and I was always trying to hang out with them. When I was little, it was sort of like because I liked my brother and wanted to do the same things he did. He hated that. Now, he gets a kick out of reminding me. Like thanks.
Anyway, Mom was there, with a newspaper, in a nice pair of slacks eating a toaster tart. And I'm all, "What's that?"
"What's what?" she asked absently.
"What you're eating?"
"Willow?" She looked up at me. She was clearly confused.
I looked in the fridge. It was full of store-bought ketchup and mustard and even salad dressing in a bottle, but not one of the recycled bottles that mom usually puts the homemade stuff into. There was salad in one of those plastic boxes and non-organic deli meat. I didn't even have to push aside the organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables to find what I was looking for.
Fortunately there was yogurt, but it wasn't organic and definitely not the plain stuff where I had to mix my own berries and crap into it. I grabbed a convenience yogurt, wondering if I was making a mistake. Normally, toaster tarts are a treat, and I'd go for those, but I didn't feel that great and yogurt seemed like it would be easier on my stomach.
"Where's Eric?" I asked.
"He's got five minutes before he has to be out the door. I'm sure he'll be down," my mother said calmly.
Okay, so that was big clue that something was majorly wrong. It went beyond the food and the actions. It was like my mom's whole attitude. She didn't even seem worried, and my mom loves to worry about things while telling the rest of the world not to worry. Probably because she's doing all of it for them. It kind of made my stomach feel all lumpy and funny which totally did not put me in a good mood for the morning.
Still, I finished up my yogurt, hardly tasting the overly-sweet blueberry flavoring. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more in the cup. I'm used to filling a bowl with the plain stuff and adding a bunch of berries and homemade granola. This was just not enough, but I wasn't going to whine too much, at least not then. Things were weird enough. What if I was in some alternate universe and my mom got suspicious that I wasn't really me and locked me up?
Okay, maybe I have a bit of a wild imagination, but I'm a freaking fairy godmother, so I think I'm entitled. I try to use my imagination for good, which is usually adding snarky comments to whatever the day's trending topic is.
I left the house, carrying my backpack, hoping that I'd been organized enough to put everything I might need in there the night before. I wasn't sure what I actually needed—I mean, I knew what I needed in the world I'd been in when I fell asleep but this didn't appear to be that world. It was too early for me to have an idea of what world it was, but I had a niggling suspicion it had to do with the wish I granted the day before.
Of course, I had to wonder too, was I still dreaming? I pinched myself, which hurt, but nothing changed, outside of the fact that now my arm was sore. I tried to get myself to open my eyes, but nothing changed. And you know how it feels different to be in a dream rather than in the real world? This felt real.
Now, you might be thinking that I'm taking all this in stride and you'd be both right and wrong. I mean, it seemed like it was my world. The yard looked the same, if a little less perfectly kept. There were way fewer weeds, but the lines between the flower garden and the yard weren't as neat. There was also a plain, ordinary tree with pink flowers that we didn't have in our real yard. In our real yard we had a cherry tree that flowered, but it also had fruit, so in case of the zombie apocalypse and we had to live off our little less than a quarter of an acre of suburban land, we had a chance of doing so, I guess, although I doubt that we'd be able to live off of what we grew now.
Still, the tree thing got me. I hurried across the street. I saw the yellow of the bus coming down and heard the squeal of breaks as it stopped at the stop sign a block away.
Sage came out of her front door. She looked thinner than she was in my world, but maybe I was looking for things. Her face was also harder, like she'd spent the last two years being angry about things rather than laughing, you know? Eric came flying out the door just as the bus pulled up, and he ran around behind it while the rest of us got on.
"You were early," Sage said when we sat down behind a Goth-looking girl. It took me a minute to realize that the girl with the super black hair and pale skin was actually my friend Ashley. I had an internal shiver and thought I remembered granting a wish for her. I couldn't remember the wish. Another odd thing to add to the day of odd things.
I watched the other kids getting in. Tenisha sat with Dulce and the two of them didn't turn or look at anyone else, which was kinda normal. Tenisha's hair was braided in thicker braids than it normally was, and it looked like she might have a little bit of a reddish tint. She and Ash were good friends—in my world—so it was a surprise that Ashley hadn't said anything to her.
My brother was in the back of the bus with the usual crowd of guys he sat with. Sometimes he'd get a ride with Doug Layton when Doug got the car, but mostly he rode the bus. This was all normal-but-not-quite-normal. Like the world had tipped just a little bit.
"Just not feeling quite right," I said, slowly. Sage was sitting next to the window and I had the aisle seat. The seat felt harder than our usual seat but, again, like Sage looking thinner and harder, it could have been my imagination. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe going to school wasn't such a good idea. I wondered how I could get a hold of the other fairy godmothers. It's not like we have a 911 number to call in case of an emergency.
That's right, there are a bunch of us. We meet every Monday night at seven in the junkiest place around, but there are issues with changing that so we don't. You would think, though, that a group of people who can grant wishes could find a place better than a leaky basement that never gets warm, with a bunch of mismatched, broken-down furniture. But maybe that's just me.
At any rate, I had a feeling Monday was going to be too far away, so I needed to figure out a way to contact someone right now. The handbook of rules and things was on my computer at home. Maybe I could get sick about halfway through and go home? Or something?
"I'd of stayed home," Sage said. She turned away from me and looked out the window. She had a large hickey on her neck, towards the back that I hadn't noticed before. In my world, Sage didn't have a steady boyfriend, although she was interested in Doug Layton, the quarterback. He and Eric hung out a lot, and I knew Doug way too well to be interested in him. I couldn't believe Sage was.
"Thought about it," I said. "But I didn't want my mom to get all freaked out."
"Like your mom freaks about anything," Sage laughed. There was something harsh there. Besides, Sage knew better. My mom freaked about everything, certain I was ingesting toxins by merely existing. But the mom who sat unconcerned reading the newspaper this morning in a nice set of clothes and not pants that looked homemade, well she didn't seem worried about anything. Sage could be right.
I shrugged. "No sense in starting on a weekend." That sounded like me, I hoped. But maybe I was a different person in this world?
Sage laughed again, that harsh bark of a laugh that was completely unlike her.
The bus turned into the school drop off area, finally, and I stood up, probably too quickly. Sage gave me a look, surprised and not at all pleased but she followed me out. Ashley, the Goth girl, sat and watched us, her eyes narrowed. I tried to smile, but she only glared.
"What was that?" Sage asked as I jumped off the last step.
"What?" Outside the school looked mostly the same. There were still five low steps in a semi-circle leading up to the main doors. There was a large overhang that kept people dry and cool when they had to wait to go through the metal detectors. There was the same smell of bleach and coffee that permeated the air near the building. Inside, I had no doubt the scent of dirty socks was still part of the mix.
It was still a long low building that looked smaller than what it was on the inside. The roof was still blue, although I thought it was a darker blue, like it had been painted more recently than the one in my world. The cream colored siding along the walls and the windows mostly looked the same, although some of the window decorations looked a little different, but not so much as I'd have noticed if I wasn't looking for it.
"Talking to Goth girl?" Sage said like it was the worst thing in the world.
Now, normally Sage and I hung with Ashley and Lauren. Lauren made a big deal out of the new, "nicer," me because I no longer snarked about everything. It's hard to do when you grant wishes, but I did my best. Ashley was almost as bad. The fact that we weren't friends in this world was troubling, and it made my stomach hurt worse. Not that we were that good of friends that I'd be worried about that in general. I had a feeling it had to do with a wish—probably one Ashley made.
Did she hate me so much that she'd wished we weren't friends? I couldn't believe that would change so many things. There was something even more wrong.
I walked up the steps with Sage, not answering her, thinking about how to answer. Maybe not saying anything was better than defending myself. I got through the metal detector without setting anything off. I was glad to see Brad, the regular security guard there and looking like an older, worn version of a cartoon genie, with his bald head and heavy arms.
He greeted me the way Brad always did, which was exactly like he greeted all the other kids. At least someone was exactly the same. Did that mean whatever Ashley wished hadn't really affected him? Which was interesting. I mean, would it affect the entire school or just the people close to her? I wished I remembered what her wish was. It might help me make sense of this.
I grabbed my bag and headed down the hall to my homeroom. There were the usual bulletin boards on the left and lockers on the right side of the hallway. I turned right, with Sage following right behind me, not saying anything. I paused to let her catch up. She turned to give me a look and passed by without a word. Now that was weird. At any rate, I followed her into our homeroom.
The seats were arranged the same way, at least as far as I could tell. I sat towards the back with Sage. She didn't seem to notice that I was sitting there, so that meant I must be in the right seat. A few people gave me waves. Sage started talking to Lauren the moment she walked in. Both of them sort of ignored me. I wondered if this was part of my role in this world or if I'd done something to piss Sage off.
Sage tends to clam up when she's pissed off. Of course, normally she eventually does talk to me and she doesn't usually give me the cold shoulder unless I'm well aware of why. This time I had no idea what was going on. Which meant I'd done something wrong. I had no idea if my problem had started that morning or earlier. It wasn't like I understood this world. I tried not to sulk.
The whole my-world/this-world thing was frustrating. I mean yesterday things were normal and the way I knew them. This post-wish fantasy world was really irritating. I needed to have a way to clarify things for myself and for any other fairy godmothers I had to tell about this. "The real world", or maybe "pre-wish world", and "post-wish world" seemed like good ways of labeling them.
Mrs. Charpentier called roll as she always did, using our full names. As usual I wiggled my pen at her and she nodded, although there was the slightest raise of an eyebrow. Okay, so I must speak or something here. But how would I know those things? Maybe I ought to tell her I just didn't feel good. Sage would likely back me up, if she wasn't mad enough at me for not acting right that she was completely ignoring me.
I listened to the announcements. Then we moved onto our English lesson and the reading. It was the same lesson I'd done for Wednesday in my world, which made things a little easier. But while that was sort of a relief, it also worried me. What if I got to a class where I had to know things I wasn't supposed to study for another few days in the real world? Or worse, what if things like history were different in this world?
I almost started to hyperventilate thinking about that, but calmed myself by focusing on the words in front of me. It was just a few hours. I could get through this.
"I so wish this class would end," I heard the voice of Mr. Tremayne in the other room. He was my math teacher. I was used to hearing that wish from him. He hated the first period students. They were his most difficult class, and I kind of had to laugh because that was the class he was always certain was never going to end. He didn't need to wish for it to end, because that would happen whether he wished it or not.
Now that I'd clearly granted a wish or something that was bad, I had to wonder what would happen if he ever said those words when I was ready to grant a wish. Would we all just lose an hour of time? Or would something worse happen?