It was sunny when I set out, but there’s a flurry of rain so I duck into some nearby woods and carry on heading west towards the distant peak. There’s nothing like escaping the hustle of city life for a Sunday hike through the wild world of North Wales.
I pass out of the trees as the rain is easing and in front of me is the end of the rainbow. I can’t believe it. Vibrant colours pour out of the sky right into the ground, and lying next to them is a tiny old man. A leprechaun? He looks more like a garden gnome, without the hat or fishing rod, but his eyes, which open lazily at the sound of my footsteps, are a dark, foreboding red.
“Are you a-”
“Don’t start, kid,” he says in a gruff voice. “Just let me explain the rules, OK?”
I nod, suspending disbelief. His eyes burn into me.
“I’ll grant you a wish, but it has to be something already possible, you follow? A series of unlikely events coming together, no problem. Power of flight? Ain’t happening. Kim Kardashian? Sure, if you’re into that, but she’s not going to rock up at your house asking for a bed for the night – head over to the US, enter VIP competitions and things should fall into place. Got it?”
I have a thousand questions, but for some reason can only ask about his last example. “What about Kanye?”
“Oh, you’re that way inclined? Well sure, that can work. That a wish?”
“No, no,” I say. “Just that they’re together, aren’t they, Kim and Kanye so does that…?”
“They are, are they?” asks the man. “Married?” I nod. “Well as long as I know, that’s fine. I can send a few opportunities his way and see what works. Is it Kim then?” I shake my head.
“Well think of something before this thing fades,” he says, gesturing over his shoulder at the rainbow streaming into the earth. I wonder if it’s coming out of the ground at the other end. “Power source, innit. You could be a bestselling author maybe. You still have to write a hundred thousand words, but take a few stylistic risks and they’ll all pay off.”
“OK, I uh…” My mind goes blank. What do I want from life? A face floats into my head: Vix, a particularly attractive girl I met when I started playing korfball a couple months ago. Her smile lights up the sports hall but she always trains with the first team while I’m stuck in the development group.
“I want to be the best korfball player in the UK,” I blurt out. Really? Do I? Sure, why not. A nice, sensible wish. The man frowns.
“Korfball?” he asks. I nod, tentatively at first and then firmly. I’ve committed to my wish now. The man pulls a tablet seemingly out of mid-air and after a few taps on the screen is watching a korfball highlights video. ‘I particularly like the music on that one,’ I think to myself.
After a minute or so he nods. “Yeah, looks achievable.”
“I suppose I should practise a bit every day, go to the gym, that sort of thing?” The man is grinning, his red eyes glowing.
“Can’t hurt, sonny. Sign up to a league, travel around, play as many teams as possible. Should only take a few months – let’s call it Christmas at the latest.”
I consider this. It’s May now. Within eight months I’ll be the best in the country. Vix will definitely want me then.
“Deal,” I say, and offer the small man my hand. He grabs it, sinks his teeth into my skin, and thrusts my bloodied hand into the rainbow. The colours burn as they pass over the wound…
[to be continued]