When the time came to sell the house, while her sisters fought over their mother’s china and who would get the pink love seat, Sybil kept the jar. It wasn’t an heirloom. In fact, she was sure it had been used to store pickles once, gingersnaps after that, and candy one Halloween. At the beginning of each month, her mother would empty out its contents, fill it with boiled water, and set it aside until she remembered, usually with a laugh; we can use the Mason jar for that.
Now it sat to the back of Sybil’s dresser, dusty and smelling sour on the inside. Most days, Sybil forgot about it, except on sunny mornings when the glass would catch the light in a certain way. She’d reach for it then, unscrew the cap, and take a deep breath, thinking of her mother, of her childhood. She couldn’t believe a year had passed since her death and how, in a month or so, her sister’s baby would be born.
I’m naming her Caroline after Mom, Gillian had announced at the shower.
Sybil would take the jar with her into the kitchen, meaning to set the kettle on the stove, but after some thought would carry it back to her room, to the dresser. It won’t be like the years before, she told herself. She would find a special place for the jar in her life. Maybe it would make a great baby gift, if she could find the perfect shade of pink or blue playthings to put in it. The jar was as much a part of the family as her mother's love seat or china. She would want her to keep it.
So she kept it, months after her niece’s birth and even when her fiance, Jerry, asked why she didn’t toss the old thing. She’d always reply, I’m saving it for someday. The ritual remained the same, whenever the jar caught the morning light, sparking memories of the whistle of a kettle and her mother’s laughter. It remained the same after her honeymoon in San Juan and the birth of her own son Nicholas. No one, not even Sybil, knew when someday would be.
When it came one Sunday summer evening, even she was taken aback. It’s a wish jar. Her niece held it up for her to see the tiny specks of light swirling inside like dust motes.
Ah, said Sybil. No wonder she'd never figured it out. Her own wishes had faded long ago.Inspired by Elephantine's Fiction Friday, A Wednesday story is an outlet for my creativity in-between writing projects. These tiny stories are posted on Wednesdays.