The Wish

by Dmuk

The attractive young lady felt bitterly disappointed as she drove away from the audition. Rejected again. She knew that she was just as talented, stylish, every bit as pretty as the others. But the walk-ons, the commercials, the big movie break — all her opportunities — seemed to evaporate whenever she came close to achieving them. Wandering aimlessly, she let the flow of vehicles and the erratic pattern of the traffic signals steer her. The radio was droning a country-western lament that seemed to echo her despair. Not caring where she went, the girl gave herself to random motion as a fitting end to another pointless day.

Accidentally, then (or so it seemed at the time), she came again upon the wax museum with its garish marquees and brightly lit billboards like an oasis in the twilight. Scenes from your favorite movies, they shouted; SEE THE STARS OF STAGE, SCREEN, AND TELEVISION! In the months past she had come here often. It was her private fantasy to walk among the bygone stars and trade lines with them when nobody was watching.

Now here is fame for you, she thought. People come from all over the country to look at their idols; not even in person, just replicas that only appear like them. "Probably no-one would line up to see me if I showed up naked on the street corner handing out hundred dollar bills," she mused. "I'm nothing but a washout who should have stayed in North Dakota..."

She queued up to buy her ticket, having found a few rumpled dollars in the bottom of her purse. The ticket vendor, another aspiring actress she had chatted with before, waved her inside "gratis," giving the excuse that it was getting late in the day and the museum would be closing soon anyhow. Immediately upon entering past a heavy velour curtain, the noise and bother of the outside world seemed to slip away as the bright external afternoon faded into the dimly lit path amid the dioramas with their soft background music. Reality, too, seemed to fade; here was a realm of fiction.

Each depicted a famous setting, trying to capture the essence of a dramatically historic moment. One frame from a film, one instant in a play. Comedy, horror, drama, adventure; love, war, and the sweep of history. Preserved endlessly here for everyone to see. The girl imagined some future day when she would have famous movies, throngs of admiring fans, and her own diorama here; it was one of the ambitions that drove her to stay on and try once more. How perfect they looked, dressed up in the costumes they had once worn in their Oscar-winning roles, untouched by the passing of the years. For those stars that might have easily been forgotten a small placard, discreetly placed, contained the details of each scene.

The greats of show business faded behind her as she passed through a thin drape; the section of the museum devoted to "reproduced" works of art came into view. Each setting was an imaginary depiction of the subjects and backdrop the artist had employed, along with a replica of the finished masterpiece. As the girl walked along, she found them fascinating in an irksome way. Back in history, most of the models were just common people who happened to be there at the right time in the right place for the right unknown artist. A Mona Lisa? Chance.

It could have been me, she thought, approaching the figure of a model as she might have posed for the sculptor of 'Venus deMilo'. Sheer chance. It should have been me.

She let her mind wander as she thought back over the past year. It had been a tedious one — fruitless, full of missed chances and elusive success.

A rustle startled her and she looked around to see an old woman dressed in elegant satin and lace. Another late- comer — did she have her favorite fantasies here too? Lapsing back into her daydream, the girl imagined the sounds of stone being shaped and smoothed. Listening to the artist's terse instructions. A few days, nothing more, and some long-ago lady had become immortal. Why not me?

"My dear, you seem troubled;" The woman's voice was particularly soothing and calm. "Is there anything I can do?"

"No, not really. It's just that I wish I was so famous that I could be in a museum like this." She looked at the Venus display again and angled her head towards the demure figure of the artist's model. "Like her."

"Is that what you would want; to be admired solely for your beauty alone, not for what you could achieve? To be idolized?" A frown crossed the old woman's features. The girl was gazing raptly at the wax figure and did not notice it.

"Oh, yes!, more than anything else..."

"You would give up any possible future for simple fame today." It was a statement, not a question. Her voice had become suddenly quite grim, as if she were reciting the terms of a contract.

"Yes! I wish it would happen!"

"Then so it shall be." The old woman closed her eyes and murmured an odd phrase under her breath. With a wave of her hand, she incanted again. A quick nod, a long look at the posed display figure, and then she turned away into the darkness.

Appearing in place of Venus' original model was the young girl, a expression of absolute surprise frozen on her lovely face.


What remained of the girl was only her thoughts. Through fixed glass eyes she watched the old woman disappear. Transformed perfectly into sculpted wax, she could not move in the slightest way; not even to blink, though inexplicably she could feel the warmth of the lights on her undraped body. Then she realized that she wasn't breathing and listened for the patter of her heart, but heard nothing save the rushing sounds of the circulating fans as they swirled the cold, slightly damp air around her stiffened curves. Chilled air, to protect the waxworks (her!) from softening. She tried in vain to shiver, but remained utterly motionless.

Presently a small group of people approached the exhibit. They paused for a moment to glance at the beautiful, famous figure displayed there and then moved on toward the next static scene. A museum worker came up to beckon them out. It had reached closing time.

No, NO, stay! The girl thought, trying to reach out to them. I'm real, not some replica. The wax effigy did not stir. I'm trapped inside here, under some sort of spell. Look!   Can't you see?

But the people did not "see". They merely looked at the rigid likeness briefly and then departed. Her silent mental cries were never heard. Not long afterward the music cut off and the brilliant show lighting dimmed. Her friend the ticket taker came by, sweeping the carpet, but even she never noticed that unexpectedly this exhibit's centerpiece had undergone a striking change. Then the work lights went out entirely and it was pitch dark for what seemed forever.

Morning finally came and once again the lights were made bright; the cheery music played anew. Once again the people arrived, looked quickly, and went on.

At length, the girl discovered that she could view her own diorama out of the corner of an eye, reflected by a wall mirror in one of the adjoining displays. It was almost as if she had become a detached observer; a inert camera watching as the people passed by. Some stared appreciatively at her waxy nude form; some leered and nudged their friends knowingly; a few cast shy peeks in her direction. Nobody lingered very long; as there were so many famous scenes to see and always seemingly so little time. Her focused thoughts and silent appeals for recognition went unnoticed.

Each night the museum closed once more and everyone went away, leaving her totally alone in the darkness and chill air. She tried calling out to the other wax figures around her, the silent images that once she had admired on her visits. They stood there impassively, giving no response. Now she despised their empty fame, for she had become one with them. Another still, shadowy statue in a hall of ghosts and forgotten legends.

The days and nights that followed soon blurred into what seemed an eternity. Weeks passed, then months passed; the girl in the perpetual instant of the exhibit scene remained practically changeless.

One day, a worker passed by with his feather duster, sprucing up the exhibits. He approached the sleek wax figure of Venus and stared deep into her vacant eyes for a few fleeting seconds. He did not detect the wraith within either, nor hear her ghostly pleas. He saw only her beautiful features, glowing tresses, and silky-smooth powdered skin.

Help me! Help, she silently shouted to him. Could you help me?? Lightly, almost lovingly, he began to brush the duster along her waxy naked form, following along the stiffened curves of her slim waist and across her firmly poised breasts.

I'm not an object! —Or am I??—  I don't want to be like this forever!

Then he swept the plume across her back and lower, over her trim derriere and long shapely legs, making sure that no lingering mote of dust clung anywhere on the exquisitely molded figure. To be absolutely certain, he did it over again, more slowly. The tickling was almost unbearable.

How could this happen to me.  Will it ever end?  Stop! While smoothing the few long strands of raven hair his exhaustive dusting had disturbed, he looked full into her eyes again. Had he sensed her cries?

Please, help, even now...

Briefly he caressed the enchanted girl, kissing her cool waxy lips while pulling her rigid form to him in an embrace she could never return. The moment passed, chased away perhaps by the wind. Replacing the display figure in its pose on the pedestal, he carelessly turned it slightly, allowing one of the bright overhead spotlights to shine directly into almost lifelike eyes. With one ultimate casual sweep of the duster, he went away at last.

It was quiet once more. The statue of the girl tried to cry, but no wax tears would ever flow.


Soon afterward, wrapped up in a deep melancholy, she lost all track of time; the days and nights blurring together into an apathetic stupor. It was as if her very consciousness had also solidified along with her body. The occasional return of the lecherous janitor no longer commanded any feelings of contempt. Her sole remaining delight was the satisfaction that, even as a wax statue, she had finally achieved fame. Then, in time, that too was taken from her.

Slowly the impression developed that something was now not right. The ceaseless pattern of her existance had subtly changed. There were no longer any visitors coming by her diorama to gawk and leer. An indefinite period later she grasped that the display lighting and music were no longer working. Dust began to accumulate, materializing over the gray day/nights of months or years. Her attention wandered for what seemed a moment; lacy cobwebs appeared, clouding her vision so she could no longer view herself in the mirror. She declined back into timelessness.


And then one day, just as she had about given up all hope, a familiar form dressed in lace and crinoline approached the museum display. The girl heard the calm voice in her thoughts, even though the old woman's lips were silent.

"Are you happy with your fame, my child?"

No!  Please, don't go...  I was wrong, so very wrong!

The old woman heard the thoughts and nodded.

All those people looking at only my body and never knowing that inside I'm more than what they saw.  I tried to talk to them, but they wouldn't hear me!  I wanted them to help, but they just walked away...

The old woman smiled again, a faint, enigmatic, satisfied smile.

Free me from your spell.  I don't want to be a waxwork display for the rest of time!  I want to do things; to move, to speak.  I can learn!  I know I'll have to work at it, but I can do better than I have before.

The old woman shook her head and turned to go.

Oh, please give me the chance... her thoughts pleaded. I won't disappoint you!

The woman turned back. "You have glimpsed a great truth, daughter. At such great risk, though." Her ancient eyes hardened. "I hadn't planned on coming back here, you see. Your one ambition was so intense that I was more than happy to grant it for you. Normally, that is all. Just one wish."

Oh, no!  Please, grant me another?  Let me live again!

"Very well. So be it..." The sorceress once again wove her spell.

All at once the girl blinked her eyes (what a feeling!) and realized that she was standing next to an old woman, gazing at a wax figure of a classical statue that wasn't posed by herself. She took a deep breath and felt the air moving, her pulse beating. Doing a little pirouette-like dance, she celebrated her restored vitality; her newfound freedom. Joyous laughter echoed down the empty hallways.

The girl looked once more at the familiar wax figures standing silently around her. They now appeared pale and shallow — shadows of onetime fame — now hardly more than faded memories.

The old woman smiled a tired smile, almost a grimace. "Your life is now yours alone to live, my child. I will not pass this way again. I hope that you, too, will not either." The young girl nodded slowly, and they turned in opposite directions.

The girl looked back. "What is your name?"

"I have been given many names, my child..."

And then she faded away, merging with the shadows.


--- end ---

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