Legend of the Wishmaker

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Magic, it’s the simple things in life. It’s the sun greeting you in the morning, and the moon wishing you goodnight.
It’s in the song of the birds, and the whisper of the wind. It’s in the touch of a loved one, and the kindness of a stranger.
It’s everywhere, you only have to believe. Believe in yourself, and the magic will follow.

– The Wishmaker


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Part One – The Wonder Years

The very first time that I saw him, I was only a ten-year-old tomboy dragging my mum through the crowds of the Lantern Festival, breathless with anticipation as I’d finally persuaded my parents to let me stay out way past my bedtime.

It was the middle of Summer, and the streets were alive; vendors praised their food loudly from decorated stalls, and others beckoned with activities like scooping goldfish, which many tried with giggling bursts of laughter. Yellow bulbs of light decorated the trees stretching up to the heavens and people milled about everywhere, their chatter blending with the constant threads of music.

Eagerly, I almost ran faster than my feet could carry me, making my way through a tiny path in the throng of festival-goers; my hands clinging strongly to an orange sky-lantern that I would send into the sky tonight, along with countless others.

In those days I had the attention span of a millisecond and even more energy than my little body could handle – but, all of that seized to be the moment I looked up into the darkening sky... and I noticed him: the Wishmaker.

Before school had ended, it had been all we could talk about; the legend of the Wishmaker. For it was said that if you spotted the man with his straw hat sitting on a flat rooftop, a sky-lantern in his hands, your deepest wish could come true...

Nobody knew where the legend came from, how it started or by whom, but for as long as anybody could remember it was tightly entwined with the Lantern Festival and warm August nights, on which people came together to entrust wishes to the wide open skies.

I remember clearly that I simply stopped and stared, my mouth wide-open, everything around me completely forgotten. I had fantasized about this moment, argued with my best friend if the legend was true or not – she said no, I said yes – and many kids had teased me for believing so strongly, but there he sat, as big as life.

My heart started racing, my palms felt sticky with something more than just sweat, and suddenly my Mum had appeared at my side, softly caressing my cheek with her always-cool-hands, whispering, “Make a wish, honey.”

But, that day I didn’t have to; my wish had already come true.

The Wishmaker, as I had believed, was real.


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Part Two – The Growing Years

The second time that I saw him, I was a teenager down in the dumps, feeling trapped like a bird in a cage. All the people around me were talking about career choices, responsibilities, and a million other things that seemed to rush past me like an unstoppable bullet train to destination unknown.

I felt lost and alone, not knowing what my place in life might be, or if I was already capable of making that choice. It all seemed so farfetched, deciding at seventeen what you wanted to do ten years from now, and it scared me that there seemed to be no one else thinking the same way I did.

All I wanted to do was break free from all the voices, roar like a wild animal and yell at them to stop. I didn’t want to be put in a box and labelled so-and-so; another child neatly tucked in a niece. I wanted the chance to be me.

So, I did the only thing I could think of.

I ran.

I ran till my feet found their way back to the one place that still felt comfortable; home, to hide upon our flat rooftop, overlooking the glowing festival lanterns taking up into the sky, filled with so many wishes and dreams.

There was nothing more soothing, nor magical.

And there must have been magic in the air that day, for as I hid, sobbing with my chin upon my knees, the soft shuffling of footsteps announced another presence. Before I knew it, an old man with tanned limbs and a straw hat tipped low over his eyes sat down beside me, a sky-lantern in his hands.

I blinked once, twice, disbelievingly, and when I looked again, I found the old man looking back at me, really looking at me, as if he was drinking me in; seeing all my confusion and insecurities.

We sat like that for seconds that slipped into many more minutes, while my tears dried and I kept stealing glances at the wiry arms and wrinkled face. Memories from my ten-year-old self tumbling down into my mind, warring with realisation as I began to understand the truth: a legend can only live if it stays alive.

My thoughts must have been evident on my face, for the old man started to smile – a sight that instantly warmed my heart – and his eyes lit up like twin fireflies when he produced a lantern gently held between arthritic fingers.

“Read the words and set it all free,” he said, before tapping the brim of his hat and scooted closer to the edge; to be seen by other children who needed to see him.

Tentatively, I had reached for the note, sticky-taped to the lantern, and on that piece of folded paper I found scribbled the most important life lesson of all; ‘Believe in yourself.

And I did.

I stopped listening to others and followed my own heart.


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Part Three – The Wishing Years

The third time that I saw him, I had left many years in my wake. Time turned my hair to silver and weathered my face. Life had given me things, and had taken them away; making me acquainted with both happiness, and regret.

Still, I wouldn’t have changed a single thing; because most of all, I had lived. Adventure had been my path, and I had walked it with my head held high; drinking in the sights of the world till my heart was satisfied, and my soul fulfilled.

Eventually, the road had led me back home again, and as ever Summer was sweltering. Evening was falling and people took to the streets, dressed in colour and anticipation. Voices carried in through open windows, and with that came the whispers of the legend.

In the years that I’d been away the old stories had grown faint and thin, like butter scraped across too much bread, but it was still there, echoing with the last notes of a song.

As I looked outside I saw myself in the tiny bodies running through the streets, eyes full of innocence and hope, and simultaneously reflected in the uneasy silhouettes of those caught between childhood fantasies and adult contemplation – and I knew what I had to do.

Once a dreamer had stepped up to give other dreamers something to believe in. He had given it a name and a meaning, carefully crafting a beautiful tale that still found the hearts of those that needed it today.

For it to keep existing and touch people – like that man had touched me – someone needed to keep the legend alive.

So I did.

The third time that I saw him, I smiled in the mirror before tapping the brim of my straw hat – and walked into the August night.

You’ll find me when you need me.

I am the Wishmaker.

Total Word Count: ± 1283
Genre(s): Fiction/Fantasy

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