NOTE: New readers may want to read up on Will and Diana's world before proceeding.
“Close your eyes, pray to La Señora, then toss in your coin. Like this.” Sachi’s small iron coin splashed and made ripples across the surface of the pool.
“I didn’t hear you wish for anything,” Boeing said.
Sachi opened her eyes and sighed as if he were an ignorant child instead of one of their unit’s best marksmen. “If you say it out loud, it won’t come true.”
Diana nodded, hoping to forestall an argument. “I’ve heard that, too. But—” she glanced around, taking in the abandoned and partially-melted adobe church and its dusty yard bordered by the remnants of a wall. “Are you sure this is the right place?”
“Kind of a dump for someplace a miracle occurred,” Will added. “If it was so important, you’d think the locals would keep it up better.”
Coyote went to the edge of the wishing pool and peered into the water. “Lots of stuff down there.” He looked around like Diana had done, then dug in his pocket. “All that wishing must not have done any good. But what the hell.” He dropped in a coin and watched it sink to the bottom.
“Okay,” Will sighed. He dropped in his coin then made a furtive glance at Diana before closing his eyes and making his wish.
Diana went next, standing a long time with her eyes squeezed shut, her lips moving in silent prayer.
When she was done, Coyote laughed. “That was some wish.”
“I want a lot of things. But none of them are for me, so that makes it okay, right?” She looked to Sachi for confirmation.
While Sachi hesitated, unsure as to the rule on asking La Señora for more than one miracle, Boeing shook his head. “You’re all crazy. Wasting your money on a bunch of superstitious bullshit.”
“It’s not superstition,” Sachi said. “It’s the honest truth that right here a spring appeared when a little boy prayed to La Señora for water to help his village through a drought.”
“A fairy tale.”
“At least it’s not as crazy as the stories the older people tell us about airplanes and rockets that went to the moon.”
“But there were witnesses for those things,” Boeing reminded her. “And there’s evidence you can go look at in books and airplane graveyards.”
“There were witnesses at this church too,” Sachi sniffed. She pointed at the pool. “And evidence.”
Boeing opened his mouth to say something, but Will cut him off. “Come on, man. Humor her.”
Boeing fumbled in a pocket, approached the pool and dropped something in.
Sachi peered over the edge and frowned. “You’re not supposed to use wooden scrip. It’s going to float there forever.”
“You didn’t say what it had to be made of. Quit changing the rules.”
Diana put a hand on Sachi’s arm. “It’s okay. I’m sure it’s all the same to La Señora. Let’s go back. We’ve been gone too long as it is.”
As they rode their horses back to camp, they speculated about their upcoming assignment. The latest dispatch from their spies had indicated a new attack was imminent, with troops waiting in camps along the Mexican border and supplies arriving daily. Sabotage and diversion would be needed to keep the Mexicans busy until their own army could reach the area. It would be a dangerous job with a high potential for casualties and although they tried to talk casually about the matter, there was no mistaking the nervous anticipation that lay beneath their words. Would the wars ever end?
When they arrived at base they noticed an extra flurry of activity around the camp kitchen. Grateful for the distraction from their worries, they hurried to put their horses away so they could investigate.
“Cabrito?” Diana asked in wonderment. She had been anticipating yet another dull meal of nopales and boiled jerky, or maybe corn atole, not shanks of fresh goat sizzling on spits over the fire.
Paloma smiled and shrugged. “It wandered into camp a couple hours ago. It was healthy and had no markings indicating it belonged to anyone.”
Sachi wandered over and nodded sagely. “La Señora sent it.”
Diana pursed her lips in annoyance. Stray goats weren’t unusual. She was tempted to point this out, but just then the wind shifted and the scent of roasting meat filled her nostrils. Her stomach rumbled. The goat was welcome, no matter who sent it. It might not be a miracle, but it was something.