Mandy carefully opened the small scrapbook. The stiff pages, wavy from too much glue, crackled with every turn. Her best friend, Joy, had given her the book as a birthday present ten years before. That birthday, and each one since, Mandy had used it to make a wish page, a visual representation of the thing she wanted most. And every year–except for two–her wish had come true.
Her inaugural wish at age eleven had been for her mom to find a man who treated her right. Not like that loser Rod, who drank too much and yelled a lot. Before Mandy’s twelfth birthday, her mom had become engaged to George, who turned out to be a great husband and a decent step-father. The number of smiles in the house increased exponentially after George entered their lives.
Mandy wrote off her wishing success as coincidence. But like a baseball player who wears the same pair of lucky underwear–lest he break his hitting streak–she filled in her wish page the next year, just in case.
And the good luck followed.
12th birthday wish: Cure Joy’s leukemia. Done.
13th birthday wish: Give her 15-year old brother the muscles and girlfriend he so desperately wanted. Done.
14th birthday wish: A caring family for the ugly dog at the shelter that no one would take. Done.
15th birthday wish: A date with Troy Austin. Never happened. With Troy or anyone else that year.
16th birthday wish: A good first date for shy, awkward Joy. Done, and then some. (Taylor Marsden!)
17th birthday wish: Scholarship to Stanford. Nope. Though in the end, UCSD had been a great choice.
Finally understanding the rules, she dove back into the wishing spirit. Now on her 21st birthday, she leafed through the pages, smiling at all of the successful outcomes. If she could make one more wish it would be for a book with enough pages for a lifetime of granting happiness.
Watching her dreams for others come true had given her more happiness than than wasting ten wishes on herself ever could have. Not that she would mind a date with Cade Waller.
You know, if the universe were asking.
Joy sat in her apartment, surrounded by pictures, magazines, and scissors, biting her lip as she carefully placed two photos on the last page of her scrapbook. She had taken the snapshots with her cell phone last time she’d spotted Mandy and Cade at the library, working hard on their marine biology project.
She added magazine clippings of an engagement ring and a wedding dress, and grinned.
“Happy birthday, Mandy,” she whispered.