28: Silver Dime Wishes

28: Silver Dime Wishes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game

Silver Dime Wishes

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.

~Soren Kierkegaard

I never got in trouble until I started dating Justin. It was goodie-two-shoes-girl-next-door meets bad-boy-Marine-turned-preacher. There’s something about a man who respects authority but doesn’t fear it that gripped my timid heart and made me swoon. And you gotta love a man in uniform.

We’d been dating several months, still early enough to celebrate the monthly milestones that are long forgotten once you hit the one-year mark, when Justin surprised me with an evening to remember.

I had gotten ready in my friend’s dorm room, caught off-guard by his spontaneous invitation. I twirled in the loaned dress, watching the skirt flare out, the petite flower pattern blending together the faster I spun. Five minutes before I was to meet him downstairs, I fluffed my hair, patted it down, adjusted my garments, and checked my make-up for imperfections.

Satisfied, I skipped down the stairs, blushed at Justin’s look of appreciation at my appearance, and held his hand until we reached the car.

“Where are we going?” I asked. I knew my eyes were sparkling with excitement, exposing the nervous rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins.

“Can’t tell ya.” He smiled roguishly, and I refrained from leaning over and kissing his dimples. Wearing a dress makes me act like a lady, after all. Keeping my hands in my lap, and my lips to myself, I stared out the window and tried to imagine where we could be headed.

After about ten minutes of driving down the long stretch of highway, Justin pulled his red Jeep into the parking lot of a performing arts center. Instead of parking, he slowly guided the vehicle through the narrow stretch of asphalt leading behind the building. There weren’t enough cars for us to be seeing a show, and my heart dropped to my stomach as I realized the center was closed.

We weren’t supposed to be here.

Every obedient fiber in my body tensed, and I felt the tiny hairs on my arms rise as nervous tingles ran up and down my body. Justin jumped out of the car, and in three strides had my door open. The deserted parking lot warned me that we were trespassers, but one look into Justin’s confident green eyes squelched my fear. Accepting his outstretched hand, he led me, half-running, across the lot to a fenced in area half-hidden from the street.

I’d been to this center before for a performance of The Secret Garden, but I’d never noticed the beautiful rose plot to the east of the auditorium. I felt like Mary Lennox experiencing the fruit of her labor when spring came to her tended blossoms. The buds were in full bloom, the vines growing upwards held in place by careful wire. Reds, whites, pinks, and crimson filled the small patch, and in my dress, next to the man I was growing to love, the world momentarily stilled.

Justin plucked a perfectly bloomed rose from the bush, skillfully avoiding thorns, and bowed chivalrously, presenting it to his lady. I held it gingerly in my fingertips, and unsure of what else to do, breathed in its sweetness. Taking it from me, Justin tucked it behind my ear.

“I want to show you something,” he said. I looked around. Dusk was about to fall and I didn’t want to get in trouble. We were still slightly visible from the road.

“Come on,” he said. “Trust me.”

And I did, because I do.

He led me into the wooded area along an unmarked path. The stillness in the trees added to the deliciousness of the adventure. We walked for a few minutes, chatting about nothing and everything at the same time. Then he stopped. In front of us, so perfectly like it’d been dropped there just for us, was a well.

The weathered peaked roof came to the height of Justin’s shoulders. The large stones forming the round base were smooth and polished. I had to duck down to peer over the sides, but its depth couldn’t be determined in the impending dusk.

Justin reached into his pocket and pulled out a small handful of change. Deliberately, he picked out two dimes and slid the rest of the coins in his pocket. Gripping one dime between his index finger and thumb, he held it up.

With a gleam in his eyes, he said, “Make a wish.”

“Together,” I said, taking the dime. Standing side by side, Justin counted slowly.

“One . . . two . . . three.”

Closing my eyes, I held my breath, said the fastest prayer of my life, telling God that my wish was really more of a prayer. I kissed the dime and tossed it into the depths. We waited for the inevitable plop of our coins hitting the bottom, but it never came. I like to think that not hearing them land means that wishes come true. If I ever write a fairy tale, I’ll stick it in there.

We lingered a while, promising to never share our secret wishes unless they came true. The growing darkness brought with it a light rain shower, shooing us out of the magical woods before we overstayed our welcome. There was enough light for us to make it back to the car, and after opening my door, Justin got in his side and started the car.

Our enchanting evening came to a jolting end when flashes of red and blue pierced through the quiet nightfall. I grabbed Justin’s arm and froze. Shaking me off, he told me not to worry.

My mouth unfroze first. “Justin, Justin, Justin, Justin, Juuuustin.”

The sentimental look he’d had moments earlier was replaced with a set jaw and look of determination. The security guard, dressed in full gear—dark hat, black jacket, and a utility belt that rivaled Batman’s—strode toward us. The lights continued to flash, a sign to the world that we’d broken the rules . . . and gotten caught.

I repeat: I never got in trouble until I started dating Justin.

The officer was at Justin’s window, motioning for him to roll it down. I pulled the stolen rose from my hair and slipped the evidence of our trespassing under my seat. As the rain streamed in through Justin’s window, soaking him and spraying me, I prayed for God to perform a miracle and get us out of the situation.

The rain shower became a storm. The security guard gruffly asked his questions and when the drops began beating on the plastic of his jacket, he gave us each a stern warning and glare, and trudged back to his security cart.

I don’t think I stopped shaking until we were almost back to the college.

Now married with three precious sons that share Justin’s dimples and mischievous eyes, we smile when we drive by the now torn down center and long-forgotten rose garden and magical well.

And as we drive, I look at Justin and let out a soft breath as I reminisce on silver dime wishes that really do come true.

~Bethany Jett

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