A short story by Catherine Kos
Be Careful What You Wish For
One day, a young girl, Amanda, the young age of seventeen – went to an old antique shop with her mother. Amanda’s mother was trying to find some furniture, though she wasn’t quite finding what she was looking for. Amanda on the other hand, wasn’t looking for anything in particular. She drifted to the back of the old, dusty shop, her eyes roaming over ever inch. She saw a large spider web in the corner and turned away in disgust. As she was turning, her eyes caught a large jewelry case tucked against the wall. Wandering over, she ran her fingers over the dust covered glass, spying the jewelry. All the pieces were old and tarnished, not appealing to her at all. As she was about to give up, she saw in the far right corner something dark and furry. At first sight, her pulse jumped as she thought it was a rat. She let out a small scream. Her mother and the shop owner came running over at once.
“What is it, dear?” Amanda’s mother asked, and clasped her daughters shoulders, pressing her front against Amanda’s back.
“I – I thought I saw a rat,” Amanda said, realizing that the item in particular hasn’t moved. It can’t be a rat, she thought.
The shop owner frowned as he looked inside the jewelry case.
“That’s not a rat,” he said, his voice scratchy like he smoked a pack of cigarettes a day.
He reached inside the jewelry case, and pulled out the object, showing it to Amanda, who peered at it, intrigued.
“It’s a monkey’s paw,” the shop owner told her.
“Don’t you mean a rabbits foot?” Amanda asked in disbelief. Sure, she’d heard of a rabbit’s foot, you know, for good luck and all, but never a monkey’s paw. Who on earth would want that?
“No,” the shop owner said, exasperated. “It’s a monkey paw. Rabbit’s feet are just a made up story about good luck. A monkey’s paw is the real deal. They say they are magical items, used to make wishes.”
This made Amanda’s eye’s go wide as saucers.
“How much for it?” She asked, never taking her eyes off of the paw.
The shop owner watched her closely, trying to see how much he could get away with.
Amanda raised an eyebrow.
“Now, Amanda that is ridiculous,” her mother said, turning Amanda by her shoulders, trying to catch her eye. “That is too much money to spend on something so… ghastly.”
“Ghastly? Really, mother?” Amanda asked. “Besides no one at school will have this. It’s unique. How about thirty-five?”
The shop owner thought about it for a moment.
“Deal,” he said.
Amanda fished the cash out of her purse, and handed it over. She took the monkey’s paw, and looked over it. She was wrong about the color, it’s fur is more black, and it looked just like her own hand. It was smaller than hers and just covered in fur. A shiver ran through her. It definitely was creepy.
Amanda’s mother shook her head at her daughters interest at the morbid item, and yet, she wasn’t surprised. Her daughter had always had a sort of fascination with all things dark, just like her own father. They had a bond through that, something Amanda’s mother would never understand.
When the pair left the shop, Amanda’s mother was empty-handed but Amanda was almost giddy as she hopped to the car.
“Do you think Papa is going to like it?” Amanda asked as her mother pulled the car onto the road. Her grandfather had always like the dark and mysterious things just like Amanda, and she could not wait to show him what she had found.
“Yes, dear,” Amanda’s mother said uneasily. “I’m sure he will.”
For her, just the sight of the foot made her uneasy.
It wasn’t long before they are back at home, and Amanda was shoving the paw into her grandfather’s lap.
“Papa, look what I found today,” she said, in a giddy way that makes her sound more of a child than a teenager.
Amanda’s grandfather widened his eyes, and delicately lifted the paw and handed it back to Amanda.
“Where did you find that?” He asked her, never taking his eyes off the paw.
“At this antique shop that mom likes to go to. It’s unique isn’t it?” Amanda inspected it, still not over the shock of finding something so different.
“You must be careful with that,” her grandfather said, his voice full of apprehension. “That is full of power.”
“What kind of power?” Amanda asked, holding in a scoff. She’s never heard her grandfather act so… superstitious before.
“Stories say that the monkey’s paw gives three wishes to whoever holds it. But you mustn’t be fooled by that. All magic comes with a price. Everyone who has made wishes with the paw has tried to reverse them because they all ended badly.”
“Magic? Really? Come on, Papa,” Amanda said in disbelief. “Magic is not real.”
Her grandfather stuck out his chin. “You might believe that but there are people who believe it is real, and that it is thriving.” He gave a shake of his head. “No matter. You must be careful with that,” he told her, pointing to the paw. “Be very careful with what you use that for.”
All night long, after the conversation with her grandfather, all Amanda could think about was the paw. She kept glancing over at it, where she laid it to rest on her dresser. At one point in the night, she picked it up, and stared at it curiously.
‘Three wishes huh?’ She thought. ‘This might come in handy.’
She put the paw away, and didn’t bring it out until the end of the night before she went to bed. She sat at the end of her bed, trying to think of three wishes. What are three things that she might want? She didn’t want money, oddly enough. Her parents had money so she didn’t want to wish for them to have more. She already had a good size body. She wasn’t too big, nor too small. She thought she was cute. Not drop dead gorgeous or anything, but she didn’t think she needed to change that much. Hmmmm…
Then it hit her. There are three popular girls at school that Amanda didn’t like. They all treated her horribly, and that was when the lightbulb over Amanda’s head lit up. She held the paw tightly in her hands, closed her eyes, and whispered her wishes.
“I wish for Ariana to go bald, because she has perfect hair.
I wish for Sarah to breakout with acne all over her body because she has flawless skin.
I wish for Amber to be mute because she is the biggest chatter box on the face of the earth, and when she talks it’s not usually nice things that come out of her big mouth.”
Amanda waited for a moment, but nothing felt different. The paw didn’t move at all – not that she really expected it too.
“Oh, well,” she said to herself. “It was worth a short.”
Placing the paw back on her dresser, she turned the lights off in her room, and climbed into bed. It took a while for her to fall asleep because all she could think about was the paw. What if it didn’t work? What if it didwork?
The next morning, Amanda woke up late, and is in a rush to get to school. In her haste, she forgot all about the paw, and didn’t notice that it’s fingers were curled into a fist on her dresser. She ran out of her room, her backpack over shoulder, and grabbed an apple from the kitchen table before running outside and down her driveway to catch the big yellow bus that was coming down the road.
‘Just in time,’ she thought as it rolled to a stop in front of her.
She sat all the way in the back of the bus, and pulled out a book to read. She didn’t really talk to people at school. She preferred the characters in the novel than any of the students she went to school with. But by the time the bus reached the school, the whole bus was abuzz. Everyone’s was chattering and whispering like they just discovered something very gossip worthy. Amanda glanced around and saw everyone had their phones out and ‘oh my gosh’ look on their faces.
“What is it?” Amanda asked. She leaned forward and asked a pimply faced boy that she recognized from her gym class.
“You haven’t heard? Something’s wrong with the popular girls,” he said with glee, a large smile lit up his whole face.
“What? What do you mean?” Amanda asked, her eyes wide.
The pimply faced boy held out his phone, and showed her the pictures that are all over the internet.
“Ariana’s gone bald, Sarah has a bad breakout, and Amber apparently can’t talk. It serves them right, right? For all the things they’ve done. Sweet justice,” the boy laughed.
Amanda didn’t know how to feel. It had to be a coincidence, right? There was no way that the monkey’s paw worked. But, when the students got off the bus, the popular girls were at school, and Amanda couldn’t deny the truth. The day before all girls were perfectly healthy, and now they all have had their figures altered drastically. As Amanda watched their grief stricken faces, she thought, ‘Now, they’re ugly.’
Once the shock wore off Amanda felt horrible. When she had made the wishes the night before, she didn’t actually believe that they would come true. Once she realized that they had come true, she just wishes she could take them back. All day long the girls were tormented endlessly, and Sarah actual ran out of school. One of the jocks was picking on Ariana, and Amber punched him in the face. As guilty as Amanda felt, she had to admit, that was still nice to see.
When Amanda got home at the end of the day, she ran up to her room, slamming the door behind her. She dropped her bookbag onto the floor, and approached the paw. She saw it’s fingers were curled into a fist, and she watched it for a moment. In a fit of fear, she grabbed the paw, and ran outside to the garage. She rummaged through her father’s tools until she found a hammer.
“A-ha!” She exclaimed.
She lay the paw on the ground, and hammered away until the paw was in bits and pieces. Then she scooped up the pieces in a dust pan, and threw them in the trash.
‘That should do it,’ she thought, and went back into the house.
All night, she tried to think about anything but the paw.
‘It will be okay. Tomorrow, everything will be back to normal,’ she told herself.
When she went to bed, she tossed and turned all night.
She woke up clutching her bed sheets, and gasping for air. She instantly checked her phone looking at the popular girls social media, but everything seemed normal, like the day before hadn’t even happened.
Then, something caught her eye. Next to her on the bed, sat the monkeys paw, completely whole. She jumped. How was it whole? Then, she noticed long pieces of hair on her bed. In fact all around her is brown hair. What the hell?
She lifted her hands, feeling her head – its bald! Her eyes widened as she stared at her arms, at her legs – everything, her whole body was covered in red, angry-looking welts.
“Mom,” she tried to call out but the words wouldn’t come out. Her lips wouldn’t even move.
The bedroom door opened, and her mom stumbled in.
“Amanda, time to – ” Her words stopped as she looked at Amanda, fear and shock covering her features. She let out a loud scream.
Tears streamed down Amanda’s face as her mother let out what Amanda was feeling inside. Her mother rushed to her, and pulled Amanda into her arms. The whole time Amanda’s eyes were glued to the paw next to her.
She should have been more careful.