Sylvia and the Wishing Tree

by Zoya Sarangan, age 11
Sylvia and the Wishing Tree Zoya lives in San Francisco and likes to read and write.

“”More rain to come and you should expect thunder, with a hurricane chance of 0.0356, Sylvia. Really, with Hurricane Lila and Leo on the loose, you should pay more attention,” Maria scolded me, due to the fact that I was rolling my eyes. I groaned. I never should have suggested to Mother that we install the personality chip.”


Wishing Day

It was Wishing Day again. Every year, thousands of people gathered at the Wishing Creek. Due to the storm, the creek was flooding, so most of the people gathered at the pond or stream. Not me and my family.

The Wishus and Their Ways

My parents were very religious to the ways of the Wishus. Me and my five siblings (including baby Hazel) loved to eat the delicious Wishu food, and my parents didn’t even mind making it 7 days a week! 

Father Gives Me Some Advice

That fateful day, we gathered at the creek, which was now waist-deep if we went to the original candle floating spot. Which we did. My Papa always said, “Now, Sylvia Lorali Hollyblade, the Natives didn’t leave because there were storms, did they?” So we finished lighting and sending away our wishing candles.

Introducing….Maria!

Since it was the year 2357, we had a maid-robot (maid bot) to help with the chores. Her name was Maria, because that had been the name of my robo-cat before it short-circuited and wandered into the acid stove.

Maria Scolds Me About (Yawn) Weather

We had just gotten the new type (Clovebot 3000) and at the moment, she was telling us the weather. “More rain to come and you should expect thunder, with a hurricane chance of 0.0356, Sylvia. Really, with Hurricane Lila and Leo on the loose, you should pay more attention,” Maria scolded me, due to the fact that I was rolling my eyes. I groaned. I never should have suggested to Mother that we install the personality chip.

The Wave of Ultimate Doom

As I turned to grab my warm towel, a sense of foreboding rushed through me. I remembered my Papa’s words: “Never turn your back to the water.” I turned around quickly, but not quick enough. A wave roughly the size of a large horse swelled up and came crashing down on us, knocking me off my feet and causing me to cut my hand on the edge of a sharp rock.

Fingers and Babies 

My eyes watering in pain, I could hear Hazel crying. Grabbing her hand, another hand slipped into my fingers. Metal, I thought dimly. Then I was pulled out of the water. 

Land…Finally!

Feeling the fresh air in my lungs, I knew I was secure. I reached for Mama’s hand to know everything was alright, only to find nothing. I sat up cautiously, knowing that my surroundings may not be safe. But when I looked around, everything seemed perfectly fine, except for the fact that I was on the other side of the creek. No one was with me, no one to grab me, say that everything would be alright. My only choice was to climb the huge, sharp cliffs that screamed: I’m dangerous! But I had to go there. It was the only way. Elders had told of a tree that could grant you wishes, even bring back the dead, only for a small fee of 1 ancient penny. I had a penny that people had used back in the 2100s, a copper coin with markings of ancient rulers like Abraham Lincoln. My social studies class had each received one, and then we had played a weird game called “chess.” Ancient people were weird. I had a plan to climb up there and demand the gem return my family.

Mountains, Rivers, and… Maria?

Fog rolled in from the jagged rocks, and from that fog there would be more rain. Everyone knew that if the river flooded, your only option would be to climb to higher ground. I looked around for Hazel or anyone else, hoping everyone had made it safely. I found Maria caring for the baby, and we began climbing up the mountain in hopes that we could reach the top in at least two days.

Why Climbing a Mountain is Actually Very Boring

 Every few minutes, a wave would come crashing up, and we would have to hide in a crevice and wait for about 10 minutes so that the ground wouldn’t be too slippery. One time, the wave was so big, we had to wait an hour. Soon the sun was starting to set, and me and Maria began to build a small tent on one of the large crevices we had found while Hazel slept on my back.

Cleaning Cuts and OH, IT’S DINNERTIME!!

 Thinking back, I realized that my mission was probably impossible. Finally, I finished building the hut and Maria started cooking dinner. Looking into my purse, I searched for a first aid kit to heal some of the cuts we had. I managed to pull out a dusty bottle filled with purple liquid. I applied some to me and Hazel before going to dinner. 

Lavender-Raspberry-Lettuce Salad With a Side of My Siblings

On the ground were two napkins with food on them. I fed the gooey food to Hazel and took a bite of the lavender-raspberry-lettuce salad that Maria had made. I had never tasted it myself, usually eating my mother’s salad, but as I bit into it, I realized why my two older brothers, Noah and Lucas, had loved it. My older sister Lilah liked it too, but like me, she enjoyed Mother’s salad more. 

Eating Yummy Food

The salad was sweet, then sour, until settling into something more that relaxed my very bones. I was about to shovel it into my mouth when Maria cleared her throat and eyed the honey-colored liquid on my right. I took a tiny sip and basically exploded. The liquid started as a warm, sweet juice, but quickly turned boiling hot, then freezing cold, before melting into a sour lemonade, and finally turning into a sweet goo that disappeared, leaving behind a marshmallow taste.

More Food and… Chickens?

Finally, slightly worried, I bit into the last one, tiny round balls that bounced around in my mouth before plopping into my throat and leaving behind the taste of something meaty. Of course, the only meat I had ever had was beef, but this meat tasted of the chickens the elders described, fatter birds than the eagles that flew above our village, but tasty. They were extinct now, of course, but apparently delicious. 

Phones are Addictive

As soon as I finished dinner, I got out my phone. My home screen was a tiger, the extinct “striped fury,” and today I wasted no time deciding if I should change it to a robot. Instead, I texted my friend Olivia.

Hi Olivia guess where i am?

SylviaTheAmazing

Where?

OutstandingOlivia

On the other side of the river in the mountains!

SylviaTheAmazing

OMG no way! Want a rescue search?

OutstandingOlivia 

Nah, we’re pretty safe up here. Where are you right now?

SylviaTheAmazing

The hills on the far end of the village. The storm reached pretty far

OutstandingOlivia

Wow! Well, I gotta go. You know how Maria doesn’t like phones.

SylviaTheAmazing

Yeah, she calls them DoomDevices. Bye! 

OutstandingOlivia

Byeee!!!!:)

SylviaTheAmazing

Snow

I logged off, feeling sleepy. I stepped outside of our makeshift hut to find twinkling white specks falling from the sky, bright and cold, like a soft blanket. The only thing that had ever fallen from the sky was rain. The photos of the hail that fell on the northern hemisphere could never be like the real thing. The world was warming up, and people weren’t exactly helping. This snow was the real thing. 

It sure is pretty, isn’t it? Someone behind me asked.

I Meet a Really Creepy Kid

I spun around to see a young boy (14ish) in pale grey pants (sooo last year) and a brown jacket over a shimmering opal shirt, faded because of the thin layer of dust that covered it. His bleached whitish blond hair was swept to one side, with his dark bangs almost covering his eyes, like he had dyed them. His eyes were a super pale blue, like ice on a cold winter night, making my green eyes seem dull in comparison. 

“Who are you?” I asked, but I wasn’t afraid. The police were seconds away, able to fly at 240 mph with their new wingsuit.

The Wolves

 My name is Devin. I am a Wolf. His voice spoke in my mind, a hidden whisper that only I could hear. I shivered, thinking of the stories others had told, of sneaky men and women who hid in the mountains, without any form of modern technology. Apparently, they could communicate with their minds, as Devin was doing right now. But this kid didn’t seem like much, just a boy who needed to rethink his clothing style. He stared hungrily at my phone, which hung at my side, its galaxy phone case glimmering in the shine of the setting sun. 

I can help you reach the top of the mountain and get back to your family, but I will do it only for a price. His voice sounded like the mist on a cold night, creeping around, yet silent to everyone’s ears. 

I shivered. “Take me there,” I whispered, the cold mountain air stinging my cheeks. 

We Pack Our Stuff

“Come on, we’re leaving,” I told Maria as I ducked into the hut. The warm air smelled like cinnamon, and it was toasty and dry. Robots truly were magic. We packed our things, and began to close the tent. As I grabbed my mirror/iPod, I gasped.


 I Fix My Hair

My hair was a mess. My long auburn hair was a straggly mess, and the sparkly ribbons that had held it in place had fallen off. My lacy, emerald green dress was wrinkled in places, and the navy slip-ons I had decided to wear had a small tear on the tip. My white socks were even showing through! I quickly combed my hair into a glamorous braid and straightened my dress. I put on new athletic indigo sneakers and tied green and purple ribbons to my new double waterfall braided hair. My new ‘Scarlet Kiss’ lip gloss worked perfectly with my green dress, and I added a smoky black touch with hints of gold to my eyes, so that I could really bring out my soft green eyes. I even added a soft coral to my cheeks so that I could get that natural beauty look. As I closed my mirror and started to close my suitcase, I was sure I looked amazing. 


I Climb the Mountain

“Are you ready?” asked Maria, her black wiry hair blowing in the wind. She always seemed so… unreal, with her humanoid, heart-shaped face and pale features. Her peach-colored cheeks and pale pink lips seemed pretty yet distant, like she hadn’t fully mastered the art of looking human. Her cornflower-blue eyes seemed to pierce your soul, always searching for something they would never find. 

“Yes,” I agreed, smiling even though I could feel my lips cracking. We began to climb, with Maria carrying Hazel and Devin in the lead. I thought about how good it would be to hug my mom and tease my younger brother Adrian again. I was filled with guilt that I hadn’t thought of them in the past few hours.


We Discuss Payment

 We are almost there, called Devin. Let us discuss my payment for leading you here. I twitched slightly because I had forgotten about payment. Of course he would want payment, I was foolish to think that he had been willing to do it for free. I tugged off my silver ring with an opal set in the middle, which was probably worth a lot, but Devin shook his head. We find lots of that here in the mountains. Plus, it might be a fake. I want tech-nology. He said the word “technology” carefully, like this was the first time he had said the word. As I scrambled over a rock, I pulled out my spare holograph glove. 


I Give Devin My Holographic Glove

I raced to catch up with Devin and showed him how to use it. “You just stretch your hand, and you have a variety of choices! You can order food via drones, watch your favorite TV show, or research anything! And, if you want to shop/order food while remaining anonymous, as long as you register for the Buy One, Get A Million Free coupon, which I did, then it appears right next to you out of the FSV! (Free Shipping Void) Also, if you want to turn it off, just curl your hand into a fist!” As I said these things, Devin stared at the glove in wonder. As I finished explaining, he nodded. I will have it. He whispered. I handed it to him, not telling him that this model was from 8 years ago, so I didn’t really care about it. 


We Reach The Top! Yay!

We reached the top and saw a weeping willow tree with an old face carved into the trunk. Purple blossoms with twinkling white centers blossomed on wavy, elegant, and smooth branches and the dusty ground was littered with the petals. The leaves…well, they were beautiful. Pearly pink, light magenta, deep indigo, dark mauve, and glimmering jade leaves, all in a feathery shape. Iridescent, turquoise, heart-shaped leaves were nestled in between the petals of the soothing flowers.


A Tree Talks To Us

 The twisted bark swirled together to form the face, which spoke to us in a melodious, deep voice. “Hello! Would you like to have your deepest wish come true, only for a small price?” It asked. “Yes!” I replied. “I would like to have my family back!” I tossed it the penny, and one of the branches grabbed it swiftly, curling the leaves around the copper coin. 

“Hmmm… a true copper coin…haven’t seen one of these in a long time. Unfortunately, you still have to go through the cave. But thanks for the coin!” It said, and one of the branches seemed to point towards a dark cave that I hadn’t noticed before. Shadows curled around the edges of the gray cavern and stalactites dripped from the ceiling. I shivered just looking at it. 

“I have to go through that?” I blurted out, cold terror coursing through my veins. The cave radiated fear, and I wanted to run far, far, away from it, till I could never see it again. At the same time, a part of me just wanted to get it over with. 

“It’s the only way to see your family,” The tree told me gently, like silk in the breeze. I decided to get it over with, so I ran towards the cave, one leg after the other, my feet climbing the rest of the hill, my mind racing with the million possibilities that this could go wrong. My feet slowed down, into a steady jog, then a speedy walk, until finally, my steps brought me to the entrance of the cave.


I Walk Inside A Creepy Cave

I stroked the outer wall of the cave, and the freezing fear that I felt made me shiver. The cave glimmered with a thousand jewels, yet they all seemed muted, black. I realized that the cave was actually made of onyx and grey moonstone. I stepped inside, my feet lingering in the air as the shadows enveloped me. I broke into a fearful sprint, running away, yet also towards, my fear. I soon discovered the cavern was a maze, and the center emitted a faint purple glow. I realized this cave fed off my fears, so I closed my eyes and willed the cave to obey me. I imagined the thousands of hands that must have worked to build this cave, and I imagined them working for me. I imagined them carving a new path, straight to my family, and I ran, completely trusting those hands. And as I crashed into someone, a human, I realized it was my mom and my family. As we laughed and I wove a path towards the tree, I realized, I knew, we could fix this, we could be fine. And as Maria’s face lit up as she saw us, baby Hazel started to smile, and Devin grinned at me, I knew I was keeping this family, no matter what. I would risk my life to help these people who were so important in my life get down this mountain. 

How To Get Down A Mountain Without Getting Killed

The whole ‘getting down the cave’ part turned out to be surprisingly easy. Apparently the tree (it told us to call him Joeblossom) could “lend us a branch,”  as he put it. So we spent the most terrifying 5 minutes of my life hanging on to a floating branch and trying not to throw up. Fun! As we stumbled to the ground I hugged my family, high-fived Maria, and awkwardly did a handshake with Devin.


2 Years Later…

“So, Devin,” My mom asks, her blond hair draped over her shoulders, “How are you liking Lakebrown High School?” 

I keep on eating my noodles, trying to control the burning sensation in my cheeks. 

“Good, Mrs. Hollyblade,” says Devin quietly. He has finally learned to speak, but he is still very shy. 

“And are you meeting…anyone interesting?” She asks, side-eying me. 

“MOM!” I yell, now supremely embarrassed. I am sure my cheeks are tomato red. 

Devin looks embarrassed, too, and he quietly mutters, “I have to get back to my adoptive family’s house.” He leaves, and I rush to my room, softly smiling. I remembered the first time I’d seen Devin, his pale blue eyes sparkling. I decide to write about my experiences on that mountain in my diary. I get out my laptop, and begin to type,

It was Wishing Day again.


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