Wishing Wells by James William Gardner

“How come the fountain is full of pennies, Granddaddy?” asked Megan Whitlow.

 “Awe Honey, it’s where people have been making wishes.”

 “I don’t understand.”

 “Well, it’s just something that people do for fun, I reckon. There ain’t much sense in it. They say that pennies are lucky. You know, if you find a penny you’re supposed to make a wish.”

 “Do pennies make wishes come true?”

 “Not really, Sweetheart,” answered Warren Sloan.

 “What does make wishes come true?”

 “Honey, the truth is that nothing makes a wish come true. Wishing is largely a waste of time.”

 “Momma says that if I wish for a bike for my birthday that I might get it.”

 “You know wishing is sort of like hoping that something will happen. It’s fun to hope just like it’s fun to wish for good things, but hoping and wishing won’t make things happen.”

 “You mean even though I wish for a new bicycle I really won’t get one?”

 “I didn’t exactly say that now. I expect you’ll get you a new bike. Somebody that loves you will buy you one, I suspect if you’re a good girl. But, wishing won’t make ithappen.”

 “Momma is always wishing for things. She wishes that she could have some new clothes and a new washing machine and all kinds of stuff. Is she wasting her time?”

 “It’s hard to explain, Sweetheart. What your Momma is really doing is wishing that somebody would buy her a new washer because she can’t afford one right now. Granny and me will most likely get her one for Christmas.”

 “Well, then didn’t Momma’s wish come true?”

 “In a way I reckon you could say that it did.”

 “I’m going to use one of my pennies and wish for something.”

 “You’d be smarter to save that penny and buy you what you want then to throw it away on a wish.”

 “It seems to me that a wish is the best thing you can buy with just a penny.”

Megan Whitlow took a penny from her pocket and closed her eyes tightly. “I wish I had me an ice cream cone,” she said. Then she tossed the coin into the fountain.

 “Honey, you ain’t supposed to tell what you wished for. It’s bad luck.”

 “Well, if I don’t say, how will you know?”



A native of Southwest Virginia, James William Gardner writes extensively about the contemporary American south.  His work explores aspects of southern culture and society often overlooked: the downtrodden, the impoverished and those marginalized by society.