Wishing for Happines

Mallory groaned along with the rest of her senior English class. Their teacher was giving them yet another writing assignment. It wasn’t that Mallory much minded the writing, but Mr. Larrymen always picked the most outlandish topics. Today's, “If you could have anything and everything you ever wanted, how would your life be different?” Mallory hated such fairytale topics. It was complete fiction and held no value for her or the lives of others.


Her eyes involuntarily traveled to the pristine new sneakers her classmate, Lauren, was very loudly whispering about, “...so naturally Daddy bought them for me.”

Mallory peeked at her own stained and ratty sneakers, hand-me-downs bought from the thrift store. Some girl had probably said the same thing about these shoes at one time. Mallory thought if she could have anything she wanted she would have shoes that didn’t squeeze her big toe just enough to hurt but not enough to get rid of or a backpack who’s right shoulder strap wasn’t about to fall to pieces. But she reminded herself that wanting those things didn’t make them appear. She returned her attention to her work, using her knobby, eraserless pencil to finish writing down the assignment.


She arrives home after school to her perfect little rescue dog, Bear, barking her happy greeting. For as long as she could remember, Mallory had always wanted a dog: a pomeranian named Bear to be precise, but really the breed didn’t matter. Before she had started first grade, Mallory’s parents had finally relented and surprised her with a wiry little terrier from the pound. Despite not being the fluffy pomeranian of Mallory’s dreams, Bear had inherited the name and Mallory‘s unconditional love.


“Come on little Bear, let’s get this homework over with.”


Mallory situated herself at the well-worn kitchen table. She always sat in the same spot with the permanent blue stain, an old art project that had gotten a little bit out of hand. Her mom really wanted a new table, but they just couldn’t afford it right now. Mallory thought to herself that would be a great way to start the paper. “If I could have anything and everything I ever wanted, how would my life be different?” She wrote about new shoes, her own car, a bigger bedroom, and something other than the cheap spaghetti her dad would probably cook for dinner for the third time that week. Time passed and the page filled. Mallory, her mother, and father happily shared an evening of silly inside jokes and boring but adored spaghetti à la Dad.


Mallory woke the next morning to a usual quiet. “Mom and dad must’ve left for work early.” Sometimes they did that when they wanted to get some extra money. She silently made her way to the kitchen where she was shocked to find not the usual cereal, but plates full warm french toast, fresh fruits, and orange juice. Mesmerized she ate, not quite believing she was awake. In a bit of a daze, Mallory finished getting ready for school and caught the bus. All-day she noticed weird things happening. First, she was struggling through her math class thinking, “I wish this class would end already,” when suddenly the bell rang dismissing the class. Wait, hadn’t she just looked and there was still 15 minutes left in class? No one else seemed worried so she packed up her things and left the room.

In her next class she found a brand new pencil laying on her desk complete with perfect point and full, pink eraser neither of which seemed to diminish upon use, she noticed. The biggest surprise yet, however, may have been in science when she jokingly told her lab partner, “If only I understood all the stuff,” and for the rest of the class period each new concept was unusually easy to learn. Despite what she was considering to be a very lucky day, Mallory was still confused by her good fortune and ready for the day to end. But when she arrived home she found both her parents’ cars already in the driveway. When she opened the door it wasn’t her beloved Bear that greeted her but a fluffy, tan pomeranian, just like she had always dreamed of having. Walking into the kitchen she found the regular old table replaced by a brand new table complete with matching chairs.

“Mom, Dad what’s going on? Where’s Bear? Why are you guys home so early?”


“Oh honey, you’ll never believe it! Your dad and I came into some money so we won’t have to work as much anymore.”




“Really! And now we can afford new and better things. I can finally get you and your mother the things you’ve always wanted, like your new dog.”


“Isn’t she adorable? Your dad and I know you’ve always wanted a Pomeranian, and don’t worry about Bear, she's just in the other room.”


Mallory was overjoyed that her parents wouldn’t have to work so hard anymore and that they could buy new things for her, the house, and themselves. Still Bear seemed afraid of the new puppy, and Mallory missed tracing her finger along with the blue stain on the table, it was a part of her history. So, she was glad to get in her familiar bed that night, though it too seemed softer than usual and the worn sheets seemed smoother against her skin.


The next few days were no less luck filled and strange. It was as if her every whim was granted for herself and for those around her. Learning new topics became boring because the knowledge came so quickly and easily that there was no challenge and she took no pride in grasping hard subjects. Her parents didn’t need to work anymore and were always at home. But somehow they seemed to have even less time for Mallory as they filled their days with new hobbies. Mallory also noticed that always having a sharp pencil with a full eraser or pristine new shoes made her more careless with these items.


She found herself thinking, “Why to spend time and effort worrying about these things when I can just get new ones or ask my parents for new ones?” A sentiment that she would never have held before when every possession was respected and cared for because she knew she and her parents couldn’t afford to just go buy new ones.


Maybe the worst part though was that poor Bear was still terrified of the new puppy who seemed to love barking at Bear whenever the two were in the same room. Bear started hiding constantly, and Mallory missed her little Bear buddy and was deeply distressed by Bear's unhappiness. It was after such a barking incident that Mallory sat down to finish her writing assignment. Reading over her previous words, Mallory wasn’t so sure that her life would be better if she could have anything and everything she ever wanted as she had concluded in the closing line of her paper. Saddened by all of the recent changes, Mallory erased the last line and wrote, “Life would be sad and meaningless if everything was just handed to me.” With this thought swimming through her head she went to bed.


With a start Mallory awoke to a calmer she hadn’t heard in days, familiar sounds of her parents getting ready for work. Bear greeted her at the kitchen door with a friendly bark and wagged her tail. Mallory’s mother and father came rushing in and out of the kitchen before kissing her goodbye and wishing her a good day at school. Cereal in hand, and not missing the full-service breakfast one bit, Mallory assumed her customary seat at the table which had miraculously been restored to its nicked edges and blue stained state. She was too happy to question how it had been put back. On the way out the door, her backpack strap finally gave up the ghost and snapped, sending her one perfect pencil, which she’d stored in her backpack’s outer pocket, rolling underneath the sofa.

Mallory smiled. She’d just have to use her nub pencil again. She’d need to be more careful and pay attention while doing her work since her old pencil didn’t even have an eraser anymore. As for her backpack, she knew just the right fabric to fix the strap. She’d been wanting to customize it for a while anyway. With that she ran to the bus and used the tedious, yet welcome, ride to school to newly appreciate how you don’t need things to make you happy and getting these things for free takes all the fun out of having them in the first place.

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