'Wishes' by Emmaleene Leahy

I saved hard all that summer. I started that Easter, well actually it was during lent that I started. I’d given up sweets for Lent. Anything I was given I abstained from eating and saved in a biscuit tin. My younger siblings weren’t as strong-willed as I was. After about a week the list of things they gave up for Lent grew slimmer. Unwilling to allow the opportunity shuffle past me, I decided to sell them my sweets.

I took down the ladder from our bunk beds and laid it flat, using the rungs as display cases for my wares. I made sure I’d make a profit, for example if a pack of Frosties cost 10p but had only eight sweets I’d have to sell them for 2p each.

By Easter my piggybank was half full. The satisfaction I got from the clink of coppers dropping into my little piggy grew addictive. I actively looked for jobs I could do. I got a penny or two-pence from Mam for each little job I did. Her resources were limited so I went to our local shop and asked if they had any jobs for me to do. They were more than happy to oblige. I weighed spuds, put nuts and bolts together, tore the tops from unsold newspapers. I did anything that needed doing-even a spot of painting.

I was saving hard for an outing with my Nana. I went the year before and couldn’t wait to go again. By the start of the summer the cardboard and sellotape under the pig’s belly began to strain and dip. The place we were going had a wishing well and its sparkle left a glint in my eye. I craved magic lanterns and genies and everything my heart could desire. I believed in it all.

On a Sunday when we went to mass we used to get a handful of coppers for the collection box. Our parents would put green Lady Lavery notes floating on the collection basket. I’d spend all of mass white knuckled, gripping the coins until they imprinted their metallic stench onto my sweaty palms. I’d stare at Billy, the man who went around with the basket to collect the money, hoping he’d forget when that time of mass came. There was even one time when I thought about passing on the basket and hanging onto my brown coins.
When I got to my Nana’s I was stooped under the weight of my little piggybank. She offered to bring the heavy coins to the bank for me and change them to notes. She tried to explain that I could still buy the same things, that it was worth the same amount but I was having none of it. I had a clear image in my mind of that wishing well and the glinting silver and gold shimmering underwater. Each one was a desire waiting to become real. Each one of my coins was a wish to be granted.

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