Armistice bends his hundred-year-old knees and apologizes to the ants for stepping on their anthill. He tells them he did not see them, as tiny black specks rush to repair their flattened home.
A breeze blows through the trees; Armistice stands up, takes off his reading glasses, and puts them in his breast pocket. He lifts his nose to the air and sniffs into the wind. There is a message in the breeze, and he ponders it. He sensed a change in the world, a rejuvenation borne on the wind, and he feels it now in his heart and in his bones.
“What happened?” He whispers to the squirrel, who stops nibbling to gaze at him.
The squirrel flicks its tail, and Armistice nods, “I don’t know either, but good things are coming.”
He has been on this earth for more than a century, and he is one with the world. This universal and ancestral interconnectedness has filled his heart with peace. He wants for nothing and wishes for nothing but to live in his house with its lush garden and its neighboring forest. He loves it when the deer feed off his flowers; he admires their beauty and grace as they canter from the tree-line and approach so close he might touch them. The deer, the owls, the squirrels, the raccoons, and the wolves howling in the night know the old man will not hurt them; he is their brother.
Armistice sits down in his rocking chair and inhales the cool air. Yes, he wishes for nothing. A passing cloud darkens his mind and chides him for lying to himself.
He gazes up at the sky, “Okay, okay, I have only one wish.”
The wind gusts, and Armistice watches bewildered as an enormous bird soars across the sky. It beats its wings, and thunder roars in the heavens. Armistice holds his breath and tries to swallow the word ‘Thunderbird’ which has sprung to his lips, but it remains at the corner of his mouth. The bird circles overhead and begins its spiraling descent. It lands by the honeysuckle, and Armistice sees not a bird, but a man with blazing wings shimmering in the sunlight.
“What is it?” The angel’s eyes sparkle as he meets Armistice’s gaze, “What is your one wish?”
Armistice gapes, and the unspoken wish threatens to die within him. The angel’s kind smile radiates patience, and even the forest holds its breath in expectation. A soft, warm light fills the garden and seeps into Armistice’s heart. The wish he has wanted to express for decades rises to his throat. Armistice fears if he speaks it, it will negate his wonderful and love-filled life.
“It won’t,” the angel reassures him, “nothing will change. Your past speaks for itself, and you deserve this one wish fulfilled.”
Armistice gulps, “I wish…”
The angel encourages him.
“I wish for a life with Miss Ann Thrope.”
The angel beams, then raises his fingers and flicks Armistice on the forehead. A flash of light engulfs his world and plunges it into sweet darkness. Little by little, forest sounds trickle into his ears, and something wet kisses his hand.
Armistice opens his eyes and turns toward the kiss. A deer gazes up at him, then nuzzles his hand and leaps back into the forest.
Armistice reaches for the reading glasses in his breast pocket. His hand stops midair. He does not need them. For the first time in decades, he can see the cuticles of his nails and the creases of his knuckles. Marveling, he flips his hand over and flexes his fingers; it is the wrinkle-free and spotless hand of a young man.