After Brian bumped his head and found himself in the hospital following the accident, he wanted everyone to leave him alone. No nurses, no doctors, no grieving friends and family – nobody, and certainly not that judgmental look he was expecting to see in their eyes.

To his great surprise, they did. Not a single one of them was sat there by his bedside when he regained consciousness.

When a quiet orderly eventually brought him his evening meal, which consisted of a container of apple sauce, potato mush, and two pieces of white bread, he wished it were instead some souvlaki and a side of rice, like the kind that Greek place in Parc-Ex used to make.

And then, to his great surprise, it was. Gone were the mush and the bread, and replacing them were two carefully wrapped pitas with a side of steaming rice.

He blinked, thinking he must have imagined it, but then the same thing happened with the little plastic container of orange juice. Brian was just in the process of thinking how much he would rather have a beer, and then boom, there it was.

Brian took a moment, trying to figure out what had happened. He picked up the beer, some drab Canadian lager, and wondered why it wasn’t something better, like one of those ones he’d had in Maine the year before on that road trip with David.

This time nothing happened. At least not until he really wished he had a better beer. And there it was in his hands. A pumpkin lager he’d picked up from a microbrewery just outside of Salem, Massachusetts.

Brian stopped doubting. He quickly discovered, over the course of the following few hours, that he could make anything happen, but only so long as he really wished for it. If he simply felt like having something, it never became more than a feeling. But instead, if he focused his energies on it just long enough, and really, really wanted it to happen. . .

He soon wished himself out of the hospital and back in his own clothes. He found himself in a field of green with distant rolling hills. He hiked to the top and made a Muskoka chair appear along with a glass of Dalmore 62. He drank the bottle, wishing the hangover away, and the one after that. When he began feeling guilty, he distracted himself by having falling stars put on a light show, and then encasing the horizon with the Northern Lights. By the following afternoon, he’d wished himself atop the highest peak in the Himalayas and in the most frightening depth of the ocean. He dashed through every known region and its culture before settling on the moon and then Mars, and then Titan and beyond.

The universe was a surprisingly empty place, so he wished it to be populated with all kinds of fantastic species and planets. He encountered beings straight out of Star Trek, hung out in famous cantinas, and fought in pitched star battles. He watched universes being born, others being destroyed. He built up a magnificent empire and then gave it away over a game of checkers. He encountered ten thousand friends and made a hundred foes. And yet, he couldn’t stop himself from feeling so empty.

Brian went on wishing and wishing, each wish becoming more extravagant than the previous one. One day when he ran out of things to wish for, Brian wished David were there. One thought was all it took, and his old friend appeared before him in tattered jeans, a grey t-shirt, and a pair of knock-off Converse All-Stars.

“Hey man,” Brian said, trying not to seem nervous. “Good to see you.”

David crossed his arms and glared at Brian. “I guess.”

Brian ignored David’s curt remark. “What do you feel like getting up to? We can do anything, and I mean literally anything.” He snapped his fingers a couple of times, building for them a room not unlike David’s old basement apartment where they used to hang out and watch the X-Files over beer and tacos.

“I dunno,” David said, looking uninterested.

“What are you talking about? Feel like some X-files?”

“It’s just that. . .I’m dead. You know?”

“No, you’re not,” said Brian, trying not to think about the details. “Not anymore.”

“It doesn’t work that way. You can’t just wish me back into existence.”

“It works for everything else.”

“Does it?”

Brian was about to answer, but hesitated. That little doubt crept into his mind.

“Nonsense,” Brian began, “It’s—” but David was already fading away, along with the walls of the basement and the newly restored imperial palace overhead. Next, the planet disappeared, and then the stars and the sky. Before long, all that remained was the memory and the realization.

He could build an empire and command the stars, but he couldn’t undrink those four beers he knew he shouldn’t have had. Nor could he have stopped himself from handing David the keys knowing David was as deep in the bag as he was. He couldn’t stop himself from believing David when he said he was okay, nor from letting himself fall asleep with his head on the passenger window until the tires began to screech and the car begun to swerve.

Brian hated to admit it, but there were some wishes that wouldn’t come true no matter how hard he tried.

It hurt. He felt it in his chest and in his eyes. Suddenly, everything began to fade. It wasn’t long before he found himself back in the hospital bed, a cast on his leg and bandages across his forehead. His sister and David’s mother were there in the room with him. When he looked over, there were tears in their eyes but none of the judgement he was expecting.


It was sometime later that year, around the middle of autumn, when Brian realized he hadn’t done a lot of wishing since the hospital. He was still in a wheelchair and probably could have wished himself back on his feet, but he let it be, content to give it time. Instead, he wheeled himself out onto the patio and looked up at the cloudy night sky. He watched them move for a while, umbrous shapes just crashing and colliding. It wasn’t long before he really wished the clouds would pull away and let him watch the stars.

And then they did.

About Alexander Nachaj

Alexander Nachaj is a Canadian author originally from Montreal. He completed his PhD in 2022 and then moved with his family out into the country where he's fortunate enough to work remotely. He's fascinated by landscapes, the urban-rural divide, and the stories that occur between them. You can keep tabs on him at

Alexander Nachaj is a Canadian author originally from Montreal. He completed his PhD in 2022 and then moved with his family out into the country where he's fortunate enough to work remotely. He's fascinated by landscapes, the urban-rural divide, and the stories that occur between them. You can keep tabs on him at

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