"The Girl Who Wished" by Eric Charles May
Issue #1 / February 2014
Illustrated by Geoffrey Grisso
KINDLE EDITION ($0.99)
ERIC CHARLES MAY is an associate professor in the Creative Writing department at Columbia College Chicago. A Chicago native and former reporter for the Washington Post, his fiction has appeared in the magazines Fish Stories, F, and Criminal Class. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, the Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay antholog Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck. His first novel, Bedrock Faith, was published by Akashic Books in 2014.
"Once upon a time, way back in the 1950s, when there was no cyber or cable anything and the cars were all big and boxy, there was a little girl who lived with her mother and father, just the three of them, in a fine brick house on the Far South Side of Chicago. (Only Negro people, as they called themselves back then, lived in the neighborhood, nearly all of them also living in fine brick houses.) The Girl’s favorite part of the day was evening when her Daddy returned from work. No matter the season, she’d wait on the front steps, anxious for the sight of his tall, dark figure walking down the street. If he was whistling, The Girl knew he was happy and she’d run to him so he could grab her with his large hands and lift her up.
“Hey there Caramel,” he’d say. (He called her “Caramel” because he said that’s what her color reminded him of, which made The Girl happy because it was her Mommy’s color too.)
Her Daddy’s face was scratchy and smelled like burning leaves. After a hug and kiss, he would carry her inside. However, if he wasn’t whistling as he approached, then The Girl knew he was sad. On such evenings she waited on the steps and he passed her without saying a word and she knew she must not make noise that evening because Daddy might get mad and yell at her.