Through the leaf filled enclosure that Jean called home, one would normally see rays of sunshine. Outside would be a bright and warm environment full of trees, smiles and guests wearing shorts. That was before the first snowfall of winter. Now, all that was visible through the leaves was a grey sky and white, slushy paths.
“I hate snow,” Jean mumbled.
“That’s not surprising. You’re from a humid jungle environment. This must be torture,” Tyler said. The young boy believed there was no way weather could stop his regular visits, but as he brushed the snow off his toque he began second guessing that.
“My current form is from a jungle. I am from a much more magical realm.”
Tyler thought for a moment and saw an opportunity to learn something new, “Oh? So your real form wouldn’t mind the cold?”
“Mind the cold? Please. My real form would laugh maniacally at this kind of weather. You wouldn’t believe the kind of- oh no, nice try.”
“What did I do now?”
“Acted like your usual sneaky self. You’re not going to trick info out of me again. If you want to know about my true form how about this: Wish. For. It.”
“It strains our friendship when you refuse to talk about yourself.”
“It strains our friendship when you put a potentially universe-altering decision on the backburner. What exactly are you waiting for? You’ve been visiting me for well over a month so you can’t possibly expect me to believe you haven’t come up with anything.”
“Of course not. I’ve had a wish in mind for a while now.”
“And you aren’t wishing because…”
“I have to wait for the right time.”
“Oh, of course, how silly of me. What day is it? Tuesday? You’re absolutely right, that feels like the wrong day to make a wish. Let’s wait for a day with a little bit more oomph, a little more pizazz, something like a Thursday.”
“I thought sloths were the most patient animals in the world?”
“Then it speaks volumes that you are able to irritate one so easily.”
Tyler lay back on the bench and pulled his feet up. He put his hands behind his head and looked at the ceiling. In his own way, Jean was right. What was holding him back? He was convinced he had the perfect wish in mind, so why not make it happen? He had stayed up quite a few nights wondering, and he was convinced it had to be fear. A wish like his would change everything, and with only one, you could never go back. There was also one other part to consider.
“Jean, have you ever seen the movie Wishmaster?” Tyler asked.
“I put it off for years because I just knew they wouldn’t represent the wishing process accurately, but I admit that one weekend I did binge watch the whole series. It was dreadful.”
“So, if I make a wish with you it won’t end up going all…monkey’s paw?”
“You mean will I intentionally interpret your wish in a way that will take away all enjoyment from it and also ruin your life and the lives of those you love?”
“Yes, I think that’s important to distinguish.”
Jean sighed and shook his head, which for a sloth takes a good minute.
“I knew that series would cause people to distrust me. Just one genie messes with people’s lives and all of a sudden everyone thinks we’re all evil…no Tyler. I will not intentionally cause harm from your wish. Though, if you ask for something that I know will hurt you there’s nothing I can do. So, please make sure you word things correctly.”
“Although it’s not my main worry, it has been keeping me up at night. I’ve been going over every possible way to interpret my wish and what it could cause that I’m not even aware of.”
“You’re wise to do that. If only the last person I granted a wish did the same…”
“What did they wish for? What happened?” Tyler sat up and looked at Jean. Any info on how a wish could go bad would be helpful.
“It’s a very, very long story. Since you’re so worried about what you wish, I don’t mind sharing this, but I’m giving you cliff notes at best. I’m not going to be tricked into putting in the effort to tell you an entire story.”
“No complaints from me.”
“Good. A certain person, I won’t name names, was offered a once in a lifetime chance to become famous. To be the first to accomplish something and to change the way the world saw their profession and what they could do. The world had their eyes on this person, and everyone believed that success was on the horizon. This person worried though. Their legacy was on the line, and they feared not only failure but that even if successful, no one a year down the line would care. They wanted their accomplishment to be remembered. They wished to be remembered for what they were about to do.”
“What’s so wrong about that?”
“This person did not specify how they wanted to be remembered. They did not say they wanted to be remembered for success, or for changing the minds of the world. They simply wanted to be remembered for what they would do.”
“Who was it?”
“I said I wouldn’t disclose them. All you need to know is that this human lived relatively recently by your standards of time, and are remembered on mass for failing to finish what they started. Not only that, but their failure has spawned an infinite amount of rumor, theory and speculation on what happened to them. Many look to them as an example of mysticism, magic or aliens, when in reality, they simply made an error. Their legacy lives on as one of mystery and loss.”
Tyler looked at the ground, his eyes narrowed and forehead wrinkled as he thought about this. It was far too cryptic, but if they were remembered for a relatively recent failure, and one wrapped in mystery, how many people could it be?
“I have one question, up to you to answer,” Tyler said.
“It’s always up to me.”
“Was this person female?”
“Oh my God,” Tyler said, and rubbed his temples with his fingers. He looked up at Jean, “Did you kill Amelia Earhart?”
“I didn’t kill her. She should have emphasized her desire to succeed.”
“Isn’t that implied?”
“Well, if it’s that cut and dry…”
“It is. I’m here to make your wish happen, not interpret it in a way that I think is best for you. For all I know, what happened is exactly what she wanted.”
“I doubt that,” Tyler grabbed his bag, and took out one of his textbooks and began reading. It was history, and just as Jean had done with science, he read it with new eyes. He wondered how many people he read about and knew of only because of a bad wish. How many sloths have inadvertently made history?
“So…does that change your wish?” Jean asked.
“Well, yes,” Tyler said, “I’m afraid that if I wish to know all things you’ll just make me know how to say ‘things’ in every language.”
“Don’t be silly. If you asked to know all things, I’d give you every definition of thing in the dictionary. Silly, silly boy.”