Der Wunsch-(er)-Fueller

The wishful filler

Dec 03, 2023Heike Felber

The package lay on the back row of seats, unnoticed even though it was wrapped in shimmering gold paper . Charlotte saw it as the bus slowly emptied; there were still three stops to the one where she had to get off. The package was oblong and a large red stitch hung limply, as if it had gotten wet.

No wonder given the weather, she thought. Outside the rain had turned into thick white flakes.

Charlotte got up and sat on the seat next to it to take a closer look. Whether they should give it to the bus driver, they always said if you saw something suspicious you should report it. On the other hand, Charlotte loved Christmas and presents. But this year Christmas would only mean a few days off. For the first time in years she was alone. Daniel had moved out a month ago.

The red stitch was the same color as the poinsettia she had bought instead of a Christmas tree. She scooted closer and touched the shimmering gold paper with her fingertips; it felt cool and smooth. Should she just take it with her? Besides her, there were now only two teenagers on the bus, both of them sitting hunched over their cell phones and not paying attention to Charlotte.

The bus driver announced the next stop over the microphone and the teenagers got out giggling. As soon as they got outside, one of them formed a snowball out of the snow on the free newspaper box. As the bus drove off, he shot it at the window, where it shattered the window with a loud bang, leaving wet tracks behind. Charlotte jumped and didn't pay attention for a moment. At that moment, the bus jerked to a halt and the package threatened to fall from the seat. She reflexively held on to it.

“You idiot, don’t you have eyes in your head,” the bus driver shouted and honked again before driving on. Charlotte sat up straight again, the package in her hand. It wasn't hard, she felt something rolling back and forth inside. At the next stop the bus drove through and then with a squeak into the final stop. Charlotte got out and only after she had taken a few steps did she realize that she was still holding the package in her hand.

She stopped, unsure, should she go back? But the bus driver was standing at the kiosk and talking to the kiosk owner. Should she just go back and put it back on the seat?
But what if someone just threw it on the floor and the new passengers trampled on it.

On Christmas Eve, Charlotte lit the thick candle from the Christmas market that a customer in the store had given her. There was a plate of salmon in front of her and a tiramisu waiting in the fridge. Even if she was alone, she would not miss a feast.

Two hours later, the salmon, the beef fillet and the tiramisu had been eaten, Charlotte sat back full and satisfied. The package she had found on the bus a few days ago lay in front of her with a freshly tied stitch. She would finally know what was rolling around inside. In the meantime she kept holding it in her hands and wondering what was in it.

She slowly opened the stitch and the tape, then folded the paper to the side. A simple white box appeared. Charlotte opened the lid with bated breath and briefly closed her eyes. Finally she couldn't take it anymore and looked at what she had basically given herself for Christmas.

Inside the box was a plain dark blue pen. Almost disappointed, she pulled it out and twisted the lid off; it was a fountain pen with a gold nib. Underneath the pen was a small card with the words “Wish-(er)-Filler” written on it in squiggly writing.

She didn't actually believe in such things, but then again it was Christmas, maybe it was worth a try. She had never written with a fountain pen since she was at school.

Charlotte got up and got a writing pad. The line that flowed from the pen was thin and even. She watched in fascination as the dark blue, wet ink began to dry, making her writing look so much nicer than if written with an ordinary ballpoint pen. She wrote her name, making squiggles and circles, then tore off the paper and began to write. She wrote and wrote.

When the church bell rang for midnight mass, she put the pen aside.

There were a dozen written sheets of paper on the table. A letter to Daniel. She took it to the mailbox that same night before she could change her mind. The days between the holidays passed, the old year said goodbye and the new one came without a sign of Daniel. No call, no text, no email, just nothing.

Charlotte was therefore happy when the holidays were over and she could go back to work. She had since forgotten the letter. As always, the bus was empty when she got on. She sat down in her usual seat and stared out the window. The bus filled and emptied. Just before she had to get out, there was a sudden sound next to her.

“Is it still free?”

“Yes, just like the rest of the bus,” she replied, without taking her eyes off the window.

“In your letter you wished that I would always sit next to you again.”

Startled, Charlotte turned around. "Daniel? You, why only now?"

She looked at him, he was pale.

"The flu... I just emptied the mailbox yesterday, I..." he sneezed.

“But why didn’t you call? I would have ..."

Before he could reply, something came from the loudspeaker.

"Last stop! Please everyone get out.”

Both looked up in shock.

They didn't notice the bearded bus driver looking in the rearview mirror and smiling. It looked like his magical Christmas pen had once again granted someone's wish.

Written by: Monica Heinz


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