I sat on a bench in the middle of a snowy park, freezing as I waited for the stars to finally flicker into view. The sky was oddly clear after such a bad snowstorm, but I was glad I could keep up with my Christmas ritual.
Once a year at dusk on Christmas Eve I wish upon the first star I see, no matter how dim or bright it is, that I could meet the one I'm supposed to be with for the rest of my life. Once a year for the last ten years, and at the age of twenty-five I was finally starting to give up hope that this wish would ever come true. I had decided that this year would be my last and if nothing happened, I would have to make my own dreams come true.
A dove settled in the tree across from me. It looked around forlorn before spreading its wings. I laughed softly, startling it as I did so, and it cocked its head towards me. A moment later another dove joined it, they brushed each other and stayed happily sitting together. A jolt of jealousy struck me and I let out a deep sigh. Even a bird had someone to be with right now. I was jealous of a bird, pathetic.
Ah, there it was. The first star had made its appearance and I nearly fell off the bench in anticipation. No matter how many years had gone by, it always felt like the first time. Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes gently and waited a moment for the exact words. Nodding, I smiled, I remember now.
"It's Christmas Eve and you are the first star out tonight. It's a lot to ask but I believe in dreams coming true and I only want one thing. I wish, I wish to find the one who I will always love and will always love me." There finished.
I looked around, still the same empty park covered in snow. I guess I was asking too much but there is still time for anything to happen. I settled back on the bench giving into the disappointment that had been creeping around me lately. I nodded decisively and stood up.
"That's a tall order, you know Melanie. I mean a star is only bright burning ball of gas light years away. How can that make your wish come true?" A voice asked surprising me.
I swung around to find myself face to face with my brother's best friend. Oh, him. I rolled my eyes and tried to walk past him but he grabbed my arm. "Let me go, Aidan. It's cold out here."
"You never answered my question." He smirked when I scowled at him.
"It's just something I did every year, I'm done with it now." I made a half-hearted attempt to pull myself free. Even after fifteen years of knowing Aidan, I never could get used to how much he annoyed me. Why my brother was even friends with him was a mystery to me.
"You think it will happen this year?" I could see the laughter in his eyes and I felt my face heat up.
"I'm too old for a fairy tale." I shrugged but inside I felt my heart breaking a little. I had wanted this wish to come true for so long that I hadn't thought of how much it would hurt when I gave up.
Aidan let go of my arm and I started heading towards the entrance. He never really spoke to me anyways, unless he was making fun of me when we were younger. So I wasn't expecting him to speak again.
"I remember the first time you made that wish." I turned to see him staring at me with unreadable eyes. "You sat on this very bench in your favorite red coat and a little Santa hat on your head. All of your family had come over and I had come by to drop off your brother's gift, but then you snuck out and I followed. I wanted to see if I could find something to tease you about later, but you just sat there so serious."
I opened my mouth to say something but he just shook his head. "I listened to you make that wish and when nothing happened you stood up and said 'I'll be back next year.' I stood right here after you had gone I was so confused. I thought to myself 'Why would she wish something like that? Why wish for someone else…when I've been here all along?' I could never figure it out, and each year I listened to you wish."
"Is this some kind of joke?" I finally managed. I glanced suspiciously all around me but I couldn't find any hints that my brother was hiding.
"You have to answer my question." He looked at me and I felt my heart ache. I had liked him, years ago when he still thought girls had cooties. I remember doing everything I could when I was thirteen to get him to notice me, but I was always the little sister. Not worth his time, so I stopped, not all the way but just enough to date other boys.
"How do you know I wasn't wishing for you?"
He looked up to the sky then and I did the only thing I could think of. I ran, I ran away from him and his revelations. I ran away from the stars and my wish. I ran through the snow to the park's exit, I ran for the safety of home.
Right before I could reach the street that divided me from home, a hand grabbed my arm. I knew it was his without turning around, I always knew when he was close by. I closed my eyes and took a shuddering breath and turned. It was then that he kissed me, and I was suddenly swept up in how much I had wanted this for all those years. A few minutes later we parted, each of us breathing deeply and not looking at one another.
"I should go. I've made an ass of myself, huh?" He turned and I nearly cried out.
I watched him as he started to walk away without a single glance back. Was I just going to let him go? Had my wishes been answered this whole time and I was blind to it? I shook my head and ran for him.
"Wait!" He caught me as I jumped into his arms. "Don't go. You can't just walk away from me after saying something like that." He was silent and I held him close. "I've been waiting for you for fifteen years, fifteen is a long time. I've loved you for so long."
"Sorry. I love you too." I nearly wept in joy when he arms slid tighter around me. "Merry Christmas."
We stayed like that until my brother came out of the house grinning like a fool to call us in for opening gifts. I smiled at Aidan as he waved my brother off. His dark blue eyes had stars in them, just like the ones I had wished upon…wishing for something I already had close by.