"Hark!", a shrill voice pleads. "You! Tired-looking commoner."
The summon catches you off guard in the cold, silent streets of Sherbrooke. Amused by its choice of words, you turn absent-mindedly to its origin. Once more, you're startled by the sight before you. A little lady, wings on her back, wearing a delicate robe adorned with faint polka dots. Contrasting with this precious look, she's also carrying a hiker's backpack, sleeping bag, and thermal flask in tow. She must be wearing a costume of sorts, you reason, for some kind of festivity. Something like that.
"Your kind is always chasing after your 'dreams' am I not right?", she continues. "Well, you are in luck! For you stumbled upon none other than Lunina, Wish Granter Extraordinaire!"
You've never been one for improvisation, and this introduction would have stopped anybody in their tracks. And unfortunately, it's no longer possible to pretend you didn't notice the little lady. You feel as if a trap has sprung upon you. Silent as night, gaze darting, you stand there, unsure how to respond. After a few awkward seconds, she presses on.
"Haha! No doubt the countless possibilities before you have set your mind racing! Have no worries. Take all the time you need. I can see it in your eyes, you know. The embers in them have untold potential to become a wondrous blaze. All you need is to open up, share with me your dreams."
With every word she speaks, more and more alarm bells ring in your head. And yet, to your own surprise, clashing against your better judgment... More and more, there's a perverse desire growing within you. A need to see through whatever this strange gal is proposing... To finally have an interesting anecdote to talk about, if nothing else. While this internal struggle is going on, you stand there, mouth agape.
"... Hm? Do you perhaps not speak the language of the commons?"
Finally, you muster up the courage to break this, frankly uncomfortable, stalemate. You ask the most pressing question on your mind. "H-how much would I owe you?"
The fairy lady perks up. "Haha! So you were just lost in thought, just as predicted! Have no worries, creature of little social standing. Your wish will only cost as much as you find it worth."
This is way too sketchy. And yet, despite it all, the pitch has appeal. "And I'll decide how much that is... After it's been granted, right?"
"Right you are, right you are! So, what's it going to be?", she asks with a beaming smile.
Finally, a chance to get rid of some frustrations at work. "See, we've got this IDUX team reporting to me that's failing to meet several crucial KPIs quarter after quarter, not following proper SCRUM methodology, being a significant roadblock to other initiatives in the unit, and I---"
The backpack pixie, who had stopped following 5 words in, decides to interrupt. "Ah... So you say, so you say.", she begins awkwardly. "But hmm... I think... I have a feeling like that's not really what you want your wish to be about, is it?"
"Huh? What do you mean?"
Lunina curses internally. That gave her barely any time to think of what to say next. "Well, see here. Here's the thing. When I... I can tell you're an individual that really cares about their work, right? So... Would you really be happy if you... just ended up wishing away all the hurdles on your way? Wouldn't that be cheating your way to the top?"
What's it to her? But then again, something about her plea rings true. At one point, you did believe in hard work -- and in hard work being rewarded. Making that wish would mean... Saying out loud that you reject who you were back then.
"Okay... yeah, that makes sense". You're struggling to think of another idea, however. Before this gets any more awkward, you just go for something basic. Something anyone could end up making. "Then I wish for enough cash to fully pay my mortgage, and treat myself on top."
The polka-dot creature winces. "Not... quite, money won't do.", she says with irritation in her voice, like she's said those words a thousand times. "You would be paying me to give you cash. Should you hold your end of the bargain and return to me what's it worth, then you have wasted a wish on nothing."
"Oh! Then how about... A winning lottery ticket?"
"No no no, that doesn't change any-- Look. Forget work and wealth. What is it you really want? What is it you'd do with the extra time or riches?"
You take some time to think about it. Money was the easy way out. But as for things you really want, right away... It's harder to say. It's been a long, long time since you've felt passionate about... anything. Nowadays, you feel like you can get what you want without too much effort. Maybe that's why it's stopped being special. Maybe you need something to long for. Something that you can't get. That's how it used to be. How it... used...
"I've... I've got an idea. Well, This is something I remember from my childhood, and I apologize if it's outside the realm of your abilities, but... what I'd wish for is for a little piece of my childhood. Something from more hopeful times. I'd... I'd like to see snow again."
Lunina perks up. "Yes! Yes! That's it! That works!", she cheerfully exclaims, before forming a bowl shape with her hands. "Now put your hands together like so and close your eyes."
You do as you're told. The fairy starts humming a beautiful song as anticipation builds up within you. Would it start snowing, like in the days of old? No, better to keep your expectations in check. Oh, but wouldn't that just be the best holiday wish one could get? Before you can get too worked up about it, a glacial sensation hits the palm of your hands, taking you by surprise. "You can open your eyes", you hear.
There it is. Cold, pale snow, sticky to the touch. Slowly melting between your fingers, numbing them in the process. Exactly like in your memories. You can't stop yourself from getting emotional at the sight, tears mixing with melted snow as they slip through your fingers.
But alas, nothing lasts forever, and this reunion is especially hasty. In the palm of your hands, one by one the remaining flakes blend together in a shallow puddle. Before long, the magic's gone, and you've got nothing but damp hands to show for the life-changing experience you just went through.
"Ah, the fr-fragility of such beauty... Who'd-d blame us for failing to protect it?" you end up saying, your inner poet breaking the silence. "Th-thank you so much, for showing, it to me again." Wiping your tears away, you hastily force a handful of bills into Lunina's hands as payment -- all fair, considering what you got out of it -- before running away.
"Thank you for a patronage, and have a great life!", she happily says as she waves you goodbye. But after you turn the corner...
"SCOOOOORE!" the diminutive woman shouts to an invisible audience. Chuckling, with a skip to her step, she begins the hunt for her next target. "I sure got her good, didn't I? Nehehe..."
She takes a quick glance at the shrinking clump of snow left in her vacuum flask. Should be enough for a few more customers still. "Sure is convenient that they all end up asking for the same damn thing!"