I stood before the wishing tree, with the white and pink papers dancing with the wind. One wish, and one ring of the bell. With a little magic, it might work. I decided that I would. This year, it would be something different. Something I haven't tried before. Maybe asking for help wasn't a bad thing after all, even if it did require a little faith.
"Sakura!" My mother called, as I stared at all these wishes, hopes and dreams, complementing the dark green and brown tree that hovered above me. If I didn't make my wish quick, I was in trouble.
The wish started as a simple thought, but as time wore on, and my worry that my mother would find me grew, the wish became a story. It grew from one sentence to two, and three and four. I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of things I wanted to happen in my life. As I stood there, my eyes shut tight, and my shoulders tensed, someone cleared their throat right in front of me.
Startled, I opened my eyes to see an old man, with a long wispy beard and jade green eyes staring at me. I looked around, no one else was in sight.
"What do you really want child?" the man asked.
I noticed that he wasn't dressed in modern clothing, but thought little of it. It was a festival after all. What worried me was the fact I couldn't hear my mother anymore, nor could I hear anyone else walking past this wishing tree, which was usually very popular.
"I asked you what you really wanted!" the man said sternly. He was watching me like I was up to no good, and I stared at the floor.
"Come on. I haven't got all day!"
He looked less angry than irriatated, and I waited for him to say something else.
"I wish to be human." I replied, the simple thought that had started the entire list in my head.
"Is that all?" He waved his hand like it was nothing. "But why do you want to be human?"
"You can see me?" I asked, suddeenly shocked that a human was talking to me.
"Why wouldn't I be able to see you?" He asked gruffly. "How else would I be talikng to you?"
"No humans can see me." I said, waiting for his reaction. He merely liftet a brow and shook his head.
"You still haven't answered my question." He said. "Why do you want to be human?"
I sighed. I supposed I would have to answer sooner or later.
"It's lonely." I said, "Be able to see the world grow and change around you, but you aren't a part of it. They don't see you. They don't talk to you. Sometimes they say something, or appear to be looking at you, but they aren't."
"I suppose that it lonely." The old man replied, "But you still haven't answered my question."
I was irritated. I had answered his question in full, yet he still wanted me to go on. Embarassed by my long list of wishes, I blushed and crossed my arms.
"Who are you, old man?"
He smiled and shook his head.
"Why won't you tell me?" I asked, stomping my foot. "You can't be human, or else you wouldn't be talking to me."
"I can't?" he asked with surprise.
I sighed again, and took a step away.
"Wait!" he said, "If I tell you who or what I am, you must promise to answer my question completely."
"Why?" I asked, my eyes turning blue.
"Because, I must hear every wish, every dream and every true desire of whoever walks past this tree."
I waited for more of an explanation, but he never gave one. He just smiled and said, "Your request is very rare. Not many divine creatures come to this tree wishing to become a human. The usual wishes I get are for love, health and happiness. Why is yours so different?"
"My real wish is to live life like the people I see everyday. To have friends, to go on adventures and of course to make a difference."
"Are these really all you wish for?" The old man asked with a wink. "Most young women ask for love. To find their soul mate."
I rolled my eyes.
"Fine, I saw this human. It was a long time ago, so I don't even know where he is now, but he was a very nice person. He had a way with people, talking to them, making them laugh. It was something I have never seen before."
"And you want to be human, so he can see you?"
I nodded, blushing again.
"Why didn't you tell me in the first place?" he said with a laugh.
"I didn't lie to you, and my mother will be here any minute looking for me."
"No she won't. I have frozen this place in time."
"You can do that?" I asked.
"I am the guardian of this tree, and the granter of wishes. But be warned that what you wish for is not always what you need or what you believe to want once it is granted."
"What do you mean?"
"It will be tough. You will learn the ugliness in the world, and you will be hurt, heart broken and even sick at times."
"I have seen this." I told him, "I watch humans."
"But you do not know what they know or feel what they feel. Humans feel pain, and they eventually die."
"I know that." I said, "But an eternity of loneliness is worse than a brief slice of life."
He looked at me strangely, as if he was proud and surprised.
"You have thought this through." He said, "So before I grant your wish, I will give you a hint. One must know who they are before they decide what they want. You must be accepted as you are, before I can make you human."
"You meant that some poor human has to accept this?"
I revealed my tails, all nine of them, and my eyes turned to an icy blue.
"There is one thing I have learned from the wishes I hear." The old man said, "Humans can surprise you. If you have faith that a human will accept you as you are, I will tell you what you must do to grant your wish."
I gulped. It was a big decision, but living year after year watching people grow and change, and having no part of it had taken its toll. Sure I could talk to goblins, wind spirits and other nine tailed foxes, but I had never felt like I belonged with any of them.
"I want to be human." I said.
"Then your task is simple, yet difficult." He replied. "You must find a human who will accept you as you are. I will give you nine months of visibility, one for each tail. When the nine months are up, you will either turn human, or you will return to the divine world."
"What about my family?" I asked.
"For nine months, you will walk among both the human and the divine world. By the end of those months you will either make a decision, or the world will choose for you. If you succeed, you will become human."
"And if I fail?"
"You will learn a very valuable lesson."
He stood there, waiting for me to answer. I thought about what it would be like. To live as if I were human and be able to communicate with them. To have a chance to find that young man, who changed my opinion about humans forever. It was a chance that I was willing to take. To live, if only for a little while would be perfect. I nodded.
"" I accept the challenge."
"Then starting tomorrow, you will be visible to humans. Good luck."
With that. The old man disappeared, and my mother rushed around the corner.
"Sakura! What happened?"
I stared at the tree, and saw that a new wish was tied on a branch facing me. My journey would begin tommorow.