[I'm trying this new thing where I type up the fragments of stories I have in various notebooks, give them a very brief polish, and post them without thinking too hard about whether or not they're actually any good. They've been languishing for years, I'm just posting them. So here you go; I hope you enjoy. For the record, the note on this one said I wrote it in December, 2007.]


When Morgan makes wishes, they are always the same. She wishes on birthday candles, shooting stars, eyelashes, dandelions. She wishes for a mother.

She has only the vaguest memory of her real mother, although there is a single photograph of her in her father's bedroom. Morgan takes it out occasionally and studies it. Daddy says she was very unhappy, so she left. In Morgan's mind this makes her rather a poor mother, for although she doesn't know much on the subject she knows that good Mommies don't leave their babies behind. Morgan herself is a much better Mommy to her bears and dolls. She is careful to kiss them goodnight and assure them she loves them. She has learned to be a mother by example- what not to do.

She has, in fact, built up quite a list of things good mothers should do, carefully watching the other little girls in her class and making note of their interactions with their mothers. A mother should be kind, and protective, and love you even when you misbehave. A mother teaches you how to read, to spell, to make cookies; a mother helps you with your schoolwork and hangs your pictures on the refrigerator. Her father does all of those things, but Morgan also knows there are things mothers and daughters do that fathers and daughters don't. Mothers and daughters go out together, go shopping for girl clothes, buy matching pajamas. Mothers give their daughters advice on clothes and hair and makeup and boys. At least, mothers do those things on television, and she thinks it must be at least partly right.

She has little hope or even desire that her real mother will ever return. Morgan isn't sure she could forgive her, anyway. (Or, perhaps, she'd forgive her far too easily, so eager to be loved and held and wanted, and she does not want that either.) This means that the only way to get a new mother is for Daddy to marry one.

Except Daddy has been dating Nancy for as long as Morgan can remember. Nancy has always been kind to her, and thus it seems somehow ungrateful to ask for something more than that. But Nancy is not the mother Morgan has in mind. Nancy is too hip, too stylish to be truly maternal; she tries too hard to impress Morgan, or to befriend her, to ever truly fit into a motherly role. Morgan tries to imagine bringing her pictures home from school for Nancy. Nancy would probably stare at them, bewildered, with no idea what to do with them.

Morgan's small consolation is that Daddy doesn't really seem to be in love with Nancty. At least, he doesn't act like the people on television when they fall in love. He doesn't buy Nancy flowers, or chocolates, or sentimental jewelry. Morgan has never heard Daddy tell Nancy that he loves her, although she realizes he might very well say it when Morgan isn't around. But she puts these facts together in her mind and builds a picture where Daddy isn't really in love with Nancy and there is still hope that he will meet and marry someone else.

Until one night Daddy picks her up, presents her with a book, and announces that he's going to ask Nancy to marry him. Morgan is shocked and dismayed, feeling her imagined future mother slipping away. If Daddy marries Nancy, there will never be another Mommy.

And then Giselle drops into their lives- literally- and Morgan is galvanized with hope. Giselle is unlike anyone Morgan has ever known. There is no artifice in her, no need to impress. She is utterly sincere. And although she seems crazy sometimes- and brings that craziness into their lives- she is warm and caring and openly affectionate. She is like a cross between a mother and a big sister, someone who can provide an older female perspective and yet hasn't quite got all the answers yet. She and Morgan can learn from each other. That's a new experience for Morgan, being able to teach someone else. She could show Giselle how to hang the pictures on the refrigerator- she could explain to Giselle what a refrigerator is- and Giselle would proudly display her artwork, would point it out to Daddy when he gets home from work.

So Morgan opens her bedroom window and stares into the glittering lights of the city, knowing that somewhere out there her father is at the ball with Nancy. She wonders if Giselle has arrived yet. The babysitter calls for her to come back into the living room, but Morgan ignores her. She turns her eyes to the sky, waiting for another shooting star, wishing as hard as she can and hoping it will be enough.