This happened when I was a kid. Maybe no older than 8. It’s been… a lot of years. The memories are a little hazy now, but some parts are as clear as day. Especially after I found the picture.

My mom was a single mother of two back then. Me, and my 14-year-old brother. My brother already had a few games, and for his birthday mom got him the new Pokemon game. I think back then it was Platinum. In exchange, he gave me my first ever Pokemon game - Pokemon Emerald, with his old Gameboy to play it on. He didn’t need it anymore with his fancy “new” (Mom had to buy used, but it was new to us) DS.

Not used to the Pokemon series, I’d decided to check out my brother’s save file, to see what I was getting into. Maybe, admittedly, also to just play with a cool strong team instead of start over.

For some reason he was playing as a girl, with my name. Maybe he was already aware of how I liked to play games, and had been setting up a surprise for me.

My team consisted of only one Pokemon: a level 100 Jirachi. That one Pokemon, had one move. Wish. Finding the Pokemon cute, a definite keeps, I checked to see what the move did. The only thing the description said was “Make a wish!”

That… didn’t answer anything, but as a little 8-year-old, I thought it was magical. Some super special move my brother powered my Jirachi up with just for me.

I looked at the rest of the data of the save, and it looked like pretty much everything else was completed. The Pokedex, the gyms, the Battle Frontier.

Despite the save file having my name, all I could really do was look at Jirachi.

...No. I realized there was one other thing I could do.

I could find out what Wish did.

I found a random battle, and my Jirachi appeared on screen. Even the sound it made was cute. My brother had picked the perfect Pokemon for me, it felt like. I tried Wish, not even caring what the enemy Pokemon was.

“Jirachi used Wish!”

There was a moment’s pause.

“...But Nallie didn’t make a Wish!”

I got confused. I wasn’t sure how to make a wish for the move to work. In my childish brain, I thought maybe it was literal. That I had to wish up something in my mind for the move to work. The enemy turned out to be a Shroomish, but it only used its turn for a message.

“The wild Shroomish waited for Nallie to make a Wish!”

I tried again, wishing for something only a 8-year-old would think to ask a video game. “I wish we could have ice cream for dinner.”

“Jirachi used Wish!”

This time a little sparkly animation played. A little bubble formed around the enemy Pokemon, and whisked it away.

“The wild Shroomish became Nallie’s Wish!”

At that moment, Mom had come home. She ordered me and my brother downstairs for dinner. I turned off my game and ran down, just in time to catch her unloading groceries. She smiled at me. “I got a little extra from all that overtime. Why don’t we go down to the ice cream parlor today?”

In my young excitement, I completely forgot my Pokemon game. I completely forgot my wish to Jirachi. At least, I did until I got home, where I found the Gameboy lying on the floor with dead batteries.

I’d made a wish, and I was positive Jirachi made it come true. Still, I was smart enough to know that just one wish was easily coincidence. I replaced the batteries in my Gameboy, determined to try another wish. School was tomorrow. I knew exactly what to wish for. As extra precaution, after Jirachi bubbled away a Poochyena, I turned off my Gameboy properly and put it under my pillow to sleep on.

The next day at school, as our homework was getting collected, I pulled mine out with an air of depression. I gave up doing it in favor of playing my new game.

My eyes widened when I saw it completed, in my own handwriting.

That time… that time I was convinced Jirachi’s wishmaking was real. I’d asked it to finish my homework for me… and it did. I turned it in, and got a perfect grade.

I’d become obsessed with Pokemon Emerald after that. I wished for all sorts of things from Jirachi, and all of them came true. A new bike, all A’s in class, a Gameboy Advance SP so I could stop using all the batteries in the house… I was so excited wishing for all those childish things.

Then, one day, Mom got sick. She couldn’t go to work, and it was grocery day. We didn’t have enough money for the bills and food. My brother got angry and stormed up to his room.

I tried to help Mom where I could, but by the end of the day, I curled up in my own room, hungry and sad. Mom, in her sickness-delirium, complained that she wasn’t sure she wanted to go back to work, anyway. Apparently things were bad there.

Without even thinking about it, I turned on my Gameboy and got into a battle. The wild Wingull sparkled, and I took that as a sign that it was ready for an extra special wish.

“I wish Mom gets a better job.”

“The wild Wingull became Nallie’s Wish!” There Wingull went, in a pretty blue bubble.

The next day, I woke up in a different house, under nicer blankets, to the smell of pancakes. Mom was cooking in the gorgeous kitchen, and my brother was already eating at the dining room table. I sat next to him, surprised that neither of them made a comment about our new home. Mom kissed us each on the head as she set down my pancakes. “Don’t forget to take the bus today, you two. I have to get to work.” She was wearing a nice suit, and I could see a nice car waiting for her outside.

As I got on the bus, I couldn’t help feeling like it all felt… surreal. My brother sat down with the popular kids from his class. Sure, our old home was kind of dark and sad, and our car was falling apart, and my brother would get bullied by the kids he was sitting with that day, but that was us. Suddenly my entire life had changed.

All because of my wish.

For the first time since the day I’d gotten my Jirachi, I felt not joy toward my wishes, but horror. What if someone asked me something I was supposed to know? What if Mom and my brother changed completely, and they weren’t the same personalities anymore? What had I done?

As soon as I got home, I cried. Mom worried. For the first time in my life, she’d gotten home first. It made me feel worse. I didn’t let her know why I was crying.

I didn’t make any more wishes for a while after that. I was too scared to. What if I wished something worse? What if I wished everything back to normal, but it was still super different? The very concept would keep me up at night.

What kept me up more, though, was that I was right in thinking more than just our housing had changed. My brother got more… impatient. He got more mean hanging out with his new friends. He’d make fun of me for being a little girl, or for inviting my friends over, or for crying myself to sleep. It was my fault he turned scary.

Eventually, our bickering got bad. We started yelling. Arguing. He suddenly yelled something I’d never heard before. “I wish you were never born!”

Horrified, miserable, I ran away. I cried alone in my room. I curled up in bed and sobbed.

As I buried my face in my pillow, something hard smushed against my face. The Gameboy.

Knowing Jirachi was waiting for me, I turned it on as a distraction.

I ran around the game aimlessly, my tears scuffing up my vision. The entire time, I couldn’t get my brother’s words out of my head. It echoed around, like he was repeating it at me. “I wish you were never born, I wish you were never born.”

I was crying harder when a battle appeared on screen. I wasn’t even paying attention to the game anymore. I was mumbling to myself, mumbling to my brother’s voice. “Oh yeah? Well I wish you were dead. I hate you!”

“The wild Shroomish became Nallie’s Wish!”

A little bubble floated up and off my screen.

...No. No, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t want that!

Something crashed in the other room, and I ran out of mine to look. A window was smashed open, and my brother was lying in a pool of blood. He was motionless. I just stood there, staring at him, even as the police arrived and the ambulance took us out of the room.

My brother was dead. I killed him. I murdered him. The official files called it another victim of a serial killer incident, they found the man who had put the bullet through his head, but I knew the real murderer was me. I knew I had sent that man after him, through a Jirachi wish.

I threw the game into a drawer after that, buried under my clothes. I still have it, to this day. That thing is dangerous in the wrong hands. Still, it haunts me. I can feel Jirachi waiting patiently for another wish, for me to want something even bigger, but so far I’ve resisted. So far it hasn’t gotten me yet.

I just wish I could go back and redo it all…