My need for a second go-‘round of coffee often coincides with picking up the kids after school. Perhaps it is biological, or maybe psychological, or both – to get a boost before the second shift of the day. In any case, if we have time we will stop at the OOGCP for a minute. MissSeven scores a brownie, Mr11 a cookie, and if it is nice weather outside they play outside the coffee shop at the big curvy fountain there. I never fail to dig to the bottom of my purse for some coins to give them to throw into the fountain, feeling past little seashells from California, old receipts, pens, lip gloss, and a bracelet with a broken clasp. It is one of those little silly traditions, and the kids grin as I press a penny or nickel or dime into their palms, as I smiled when my mom did the same coin-dig for me when I was little.

This fountain is shallow, the shiny coins visible and glinting in the late-afternoon fall sun at the bottom, covered by the clear rippling water. My daughter asks me what happens to the money in the fountain, and I tell her that the owner of the fountain probably comes by every so often and gives the money to a charity. She frowns at me, and tells me, no no, you don’t understand me – what happens to the wishes?

I look at her face. I pause a moment, then I tell her that I don’t know, but that maybe they go into the air and float around on the currents, like birds. She smiles, satisfied.

Mr11 sits off by himself, contentedly chewing on his cookie, getting the brown crumbs all over his white school shirt. I imagine that his wish was to be able to live inside his Harry Potter book. MissSeven bubbles to me that she made two wishes and that she can tell me the second one, which is to have a bedroom “as big as this building,” as she points to the top of the apartments over the OOGCP. I ask her what she would do with such a big room, and she replies that she would fill it with stuff. I bet she would.

Maybe someday I will sit there, eating my slice of pumpkin bread, and explain to them the ancient custom of making an offering to an unknown source of fortune or power, even if you don’t really believe your penny will re-order the cosmos to your side. For today, I finish my bread, crumple the waxy paper sleeve it came in, and ask MissSeven to throw it in the garbage can for me. I dig one more time into the very bottom of my purse, and feel a quarter in my fingers. I pull it out, and with not even looking at it, toss it into the fountain behind me as we walk back to the car together, all renewed with sweets and caffeine and wishes tossed into the water, that float lazily into the sky.