Beaches, Stars, and Little Girl Wishes

The sky was ink.

The king-sized quilt Kevin and I purchased on our honeymoon in Pigeon Forge ten years ago, the one with the country forest theme and laughing grizzly bear, separated the children and I from the white beach sand beneath. It’s ripped now. Time has taken a toll on the once fresh patch work. Stitches have snapped. Snatches of fabric here and there have pulled away. Cotton batting is visible in a few areas. 

Like scars that never heal.

Kevin was in the camping chair behind me, at the edge of the faded quilt.
Beyond us, 100 feet away, the Atlantic’s white crests danced an ancient minuet. Twirling. Touching. Teasing.
In. Out. In.
In. Out. In.
In. Out. In.
Directly above, a bright January crescent moon – the perfect Palmetto Flag image – smiled down.
One bright star lay beneath its curve, so close that millions of light years melted into mere inches.

“Star light, star bright….” I started, tilting my head back.
“…first star I see tonight….” six year old Maggie followed suit.
“I wish I may, I wish I might…” four year old Caleb chimed in.
“…..have the wish I wish tonight!” everyone finished together, all heads back, all eyes focused on the one lone star.

Juli pointed towards the sky and clapped. She doesn’t talk yet, but she always loves feeling included. Maggie wrapped her arms around her two year old sister, and squeezed her close, kissing her cheek.

“What’s your wish, Jack??!” she excitedly asked her eight year old brother, finally letting go of Juli.

A winter wind was picking up.
The temperature was dropping quickly.

“No no!” I stopped them, exaggerating a whisper. “You can’t tell anyone your wish! If you do, then it won’t come true!”

All 4 children looked at me, frozen, suddenly scared to speak, afraid to break such a damning rule.
The waves kept dancing their thunderous minuet, ignoring us, never missing time.

Then Maggie scooted closer and straddled my outstretched legs, her face mere inches from mine.

“That’s not true!” she began.

She put her hands on my cheeks and tilted her head, looking into my eyes as if seeking out the real story.

The story only eyes tell, even when words can not.

“One time I wished on a star and didn’t tell anyone. But it never came true. Mom……” she paused, tilting her head again, “Maybe if we tell people then our wishes will come true.”

I had no reply for her.