“Secrets? I love secrets”

Young Girl Praying | Julia Margaret Cameron, 1886

All the other girls were asleep. Selena didn’t know what time it was, but it was still dark, with only a thin strip of light coming inside the room from under the bedroom door.

She sat up on the thin mattress on the floor, listening to any signs of movement in the stillness around her. In the distance, she could hear the faint sounds of cars passing by and the trees sighing in their sleep and the She couldn’t see well in the darkness but she could feel someone else was awake.

“Hey!” A thin, soft voice hissed. She couldn’t tell where it came from.

“Who’s this?” Selena whispered.

“Elena!” Alarmed, Selena turned to her left. She could barely see a small figure sitting on a mattress across the room. “Come here!”

Selena hesitated, but eventually got up, walked carefully to where her friend had been sleeping, and sat next to her.

“Why are you awake?” Selena started, still keeping her voice down.

“Why are YOU awake?” Elena shot back, with a playful tone.

“I had a bad dream. I dreamed I was in the car with my parents. My dad was driving. Suddenly, they started crumbling under the car, so my dad started driving faster and faster until our car fell into a big hole. That’s when I woke up.” She looked up to her friend. “Now you have to tell me.”

Elena pondered for a few seconds. “Can you keep a secret?”

Selena smiled. “Secrets? I love secrets. I promise I won’t tell.”

“I’ve been having dreams, too. In my dreams, a woman appears from the sky and told me that every night at 4 am I should say a prayer and write down one wish. If I do this for a month, my wish will come true!”

“And what did you wish for?”

“If I tell you, it won’t come true.” Elena shook her head. “I always fall asleep pretty fast after I’m done, but right now I just can’t sleep again.

Maybe it’s because my wish will come true!”

“I hope so,” Selena replied, too tired to argue with her about how realistic her dream had been. For a moment, she wondered if the woman from Elena’s dream could appear to her at night, too. She had so many wishes. She wished her grandmother could remember her again. She hoped the other girls could stop calling her names behind her back. She prayed for Elena to stay in town instead of going away with her grandmother at the end of the year. Maybe, if she wished hard enough, she’d get a chance to ask the woman, too. “I’m going back to bed, now,” she yawned. “I hope your wish comes true.”

She tiptoed back to her bed, tucked herself in, and listened to the soft breaths of her friends around her. Her last thought before dozing off was the face of a beautiful woman with a halo of bright yellow light behind her, like an angel smiling down at her next to her bed.

Selena was beginning to worry. Elena hadn’t gone to school in two days, and she feared her friend had been sent to her grandmother’s earlier than planned. But on Wednesday she finally saw her in the hallway outside the science classroom.

“I missed you!” Selena beamed, hugging her friend. “Where were you?”
Elena looked around her as if making sure they were alone. “It came true. My wish. It happened the next day when I went back from Carrie’s house.”

“What did you ask for?”

Elena smiled tightly and looked at her friend in the eyes. “I asked for my dad to leave forever. Everything will be okay now. My mom is safe, and I won’t have to move in with my grandma when school is over.”

The bell rang harshly above them before Selena could say anything else.

Around them, her classmates rushed by, disappearing into classrooms and oblivious to the secret magic that brought peace to Elena’s house and was allowing them to stay together.

Without saying a word, Elena and Selena turned around to find their way back to their own classroom.


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