The Woodjin: The Wish by Lbilover

Set immediately before the beginning of the main Woodjin story.

It is a typical January afternoon, when even the sun in an unclouded sky cannot diminish the cold’s bitter bite. After tending to the animals in the barn, Elijah doesn’t linger outside, but returns at once to the warmth of the house. He feeds Maggie and Rocky, then heats some tomato soup on the stove, makes a grilled cheese sandwich, and carries his simple lunch into the family room. He adds a few logs to the wood stove, turns on the stereo, and settles cross-legged on the couch with a favorite book in his lap.

Elijah loves all the seasons in the pines, but in the deep of winter, when there are no orchids in bloom, or fox kits to play with, or seas of cranberry red to stun his senses, when the migrating birds have departed for sunny southern climes, the photos in this book serve as a reminder of the myriad beauties that will unfold in a few short months.

But as he leafs slowly through the pages, pausing to admire the striking colors of a rose-breasted grosbeak, the shaded tranquility of a slow-moving brook, and the lace-like delicacy of a fringed orchid, a familiar feeling steals over Elijah, an aching sense of loneliness that neither time nor reason can dispel.

If only he had someone with whom he could share such wonders, he wishes, tracing the ragged-edged petal of a gentian flower with his forefinger. Someone to whom he could show this place he loves so dearly... who might even grow to love it as he does.

He accepts now that it is never likely to happen, any more than he will ever see far flung mountains or forests or cities, in this or any other country. He is bound to the pines, and even here his ‘otherness’ will always set him apart. Who would ever be willing to give up his own world to become a part of Elijah’s? Who would ever accept him, the real him, as he is? Pain lances through him then, the pain of a hurt so deep it goes beyond words.

The answer is no one.

From her spot near the wood stove, where she lies curled up with Rocky, basking in the radiating heat, Maggie speaks up in a series of soft but decided ‘mrrowrs’.

“You’re ever the optimist, Maggie,” Elijah says to the calico cat, closing the book with a sigh and setting it to one side. He gathers up his empty plate and bowl and smiles at her sadly. “I only wish you were right.”

Elijah returns to the kitchen, sets the dishes in the sink and then goes to the picture window, drawn there by the magnificence of the winter sunset. As he stares out at the vivid bands of color streaking the sky, he has no idea that, on a lonely stretch of road a few miles away, a troubled man who has lost his belief in magic has just pulled over to watch the sunset, too.