Le Village de Souhaits
There is a village, off to the left of that other place, the one nobody ever remembers, where they do this for Xmas: On the evening that would be Thanksgiving, if they celebrated that holiday (they don’t), the people all gather at the edge of the lake after dark. It is always starless that night. This is by agreement.
One by one, each person writes down one wish they have for the coming Xmas holiday, on a small piece of paper. It can be anything: a toy, good health, a wife, more sunny days.
One wish apiece, per year. One.
Once the wish is written down, the person then takes his or her candle – they bring the candles with them, I should have mentioned – and goes to the center of the semicircle of people. The candle is used to light the wish with the flame, letting it go in the updraft of wind off the small lake.
The wishes, lit, transform, taking on their nature. Dark wishes become bats, or eels, and dive for cover, sinking into the still waters or flitting off into the night. When this happens, people turn away, embarrassed.
Regular wishes, the kind most people have, become sparkling fish that leap and cavort, or fireflies winking back at the crowd. Some few become small brilliantly-glowing night frogs that chirrup from the edges of the reeds in a sweet chorale.
The best wishes become shooting stars and rockets, flares that light the sky and send streaks of golden sparks raining down on the gathered villagers, who dance and clap for such displays.
Nobody knows who judges the wishes, and nobody knows why they are transformed. It has always been this way, just as it has always been that on Xmas morning, when they wake, each wish will have been granted.