Paper Cranes

Ingrid Acosta

I watched her from the doorway, as she meticulously folded one sheet after the other. She creased each fold, putting just the right amount of pressure, and followed the written instructions to the dot. What resulted was a profusion of cranes all in different pastel shades, ingrained with just one wish.

Despite the company of her newfound friends, one is quick to notice that she is alone. I cleared my throat.

“I didn’t know you were there.” She nodded towards a chair adjacent to her, which I took as an invitation to sit and chat. A few strides closed the gap between our distance.

“You know for the Ancient Chinese, cranes were originally associated with the longevity of one’s life.”

“Similar to the tortoise, then?”

I nodded. “I believe that’s where the myth of making a thousand cranes to grant one immortality originated. We all know how fanatical those Chinese emperors were about living forever.”

“Now the Japanese believe that if they make a thousand, the Gods would grant one of their wishes.”

I clicked my tongue and shook my head “It just goes to show how times have change.”

“That, or how old you really are.” She winked at me before adding another one to the basket.

I reached out for her stack of papers and picked a lilac one. I began folding a crane, as how I remember it from memory.

“I did the same thing a couple of years back. I launched a thousand cranes in the middle of London.”

She looked up from a half-finished crane. “I’m willing to bet you earned a trip to your local mental health center for such a whimsical belief.”

“I believe they wanted to. Imagine, a lad comes out of nowhere, with a thousand paper cranes in tow! They certainly had a fit.”

Her laughter reminded me of the tinkling of wind chimes on a warm yet breezy summer’s day. I felt compelled to join in.

Upon finishing, I placed my crane alongside the others she had made.

“So what did you wish for?”

I smiled, “I wished for you.” ▪