The ice cream truck arrives, right on schedule, at 2 AM, the third Friday of the month.
You sigh, rolling out of bed to look out the window and watch. And to listen.
The ice cream truck plays its usual haunting melody, parked outside your apartment. But what you strain to hear, feeling as though your ears are on tiptoes trying to make it out, are the wishes.
Coming from all around the neighborhood, children are running through the streets as fast as they’re able, forming an impatient line by the ice cream man’s window.
At the front of the line is a boy of perhaps 5. He excitedly wishes for a puppy, then hands the ice cream man a baseball card. Then he skips off down the starlit street, a smile on his face.
After he leaves, a girl, maybe 12, and her younger brother approach the ice cream man. The girl whispers something nervously, then hands the ice cream man a Valentine. You smile. You’ve seen this before. Children wishing for their crushes to like them. The ice cream man nods and accepts the card. The younger brother doesn’t wish for anything; he just wants to say hello. The ice cream man ruffles his hair and sends him on his way.
The last wish of the night, a teenage girl, self-conscious in the wake of the children. She approaches the window of the truck.
“I just want my mom to wake up tomorrow,” she manages. She throws coins on the counter and begins sobbing.
“The payment has to be something important to you, miss,” says the ice cream man, gently. The girl says nothing, still sobbing. The ice cream man nods, then closes his window and drives off into the twilight.
You’ve never seen a single wish given to the ice cream man actually come true. That’s why you don’t go down there much. But the children, the children.