“I have a present for you,” she said, “It was given to me by a very special friend.
“He told me: ‘This is a gift for giving, not for keeping!’ I held onto it for quite a few years anyway — afraid of losing things, I guess. But now I want you to have it.
“You can see it best with your eyes closed — use your imagination — put out your hands, keep them close together, palms up. I’ll need a place to set it.
“It’s a wishing box. It has four golden legs about half an inch high, shaped like lion paws,” and she touched the places on his palms where the legs were. “The box itself is a 5-inch square made of opaque stained glass of a bluish white color and the stained glass pieces are joined together by gold stripping.
“The box is locked, and the keyhole in front is like the keyholes in your grandmother’s house — the kind you can look through and see what’s going on in the room beyond. Do you know the kind?” He nodded.
“Now, the key doesn’t come with the box — you have it. We must find it. My friend said to check first behind the ears,” and she looked behind his ears.
“No, not there. Then my friend said sometimes it’s hidden at the crown of the head,” she ruffled his hair.
“No, not there. The next place to check he said was between the eyes.”
“No,” and she shook her head.
“Sometimes it’s hidden in the throat.” She gently touched his throat.
“Not there. The last place it could be is here,” she reached out and touched his heart.
“Yes, I think I feel it, but it’s very deep. It will take a few seconds more to reach it. Ah, here it is — a tiny golden key.”
“Now I’ll put it in the keyhole and I’ll replace one of your hands with mine to hold the box while you turn the key. Here is the key; can you feel it?” He nodded yes. “Now I’ll help you turn it — very gently. Good, I’ll lift the lid.”
“There’s nothing inside, of course, because it’s a wishing box and you have to put a wish in for something to come out.
“The rule is that it takes three days for the wish to be fulfilled. Three days in wishing box time could be three minutes or three hours or three days or three weeks or longer in our time.
“The other rule is that you must give the wishing box away — it’s a gift for giving. The secret of this is that as soon as you give it away, another one appears in its place. My friend didn’t tell me that part.
“Now it’s yours,” and she closed his palms with hers.
“Merry Christmas, my friend.”
Short story by Gail Berry
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