Father's Day

Jana and Sylvia, while looking for another Wishstone, come across a ironworker's shop. They see that the iron worker has a formidable array of iron weapons. Obviously a very violent man.

They hide behind a tree, and discuss strategy. It's Jana's childishness that suggest the winning strategy: Run in screaming, and while he's cauhgt off guard, hit him with a big stick and hope they knock him unconscious before he attacks her.

She finds a great big widowmaker log, waits for him to come back into view, and immediately comes in screaming. The ironworker turns around shocked...and it's Jana's father.

She freezes up, but he recovers enought to grab a hot fire poker and and begins to move forward with it. She stumbles and falls, scrabbling backwards until she hits a wall. Her father continues to threaten her "You'll not be getting any of my wares today. And I'll give you a good mark to remind you!" He swipes at her with it, more threateningly than actually planning to brand her...but she squirms, trying to get away. He's about to prod her with the poker when she screams "No, Daddy! It's me! It's Jana!"

This time he's the one who freezes, and the iron poker drops clattering loudly.

"Jana? Is that you? Jana?"
She nods, more scared than anything. "It's me, Daddy. It's me."
He holds out his hand, she grabs it and is pulled back up to her feet. They look into each others eyes, about to cry, and give each other a hug that they'd each waited a lifetime for.

Father and daughter sit at a table, where he puts a plate of dinner in front of her, which she happily wolfs down. He just watches her, and smiles. "It'd been so long." They have a talk abotu how they've missed each other terribly. He'd found himself here, an ironworker, and spent some time trying to get back home, but when he realized that the whole world had changed, and the limited resources that were left, that he was stuck here forever. He never thought he'd see her or his wife ever again.

Jana tells him of her adventures, getting Wishstones, meeting people, good and bad, and how she found herself here as well. A good catchup for the readers as well as her father. She mentions that she thinks everyone who was at the diner at that time got their wishes making this world.

"How long have you been here? You've grown up to be a fine young woman."
"Not long. A few months."
"But you're so grown up!"
"Daddy, I'm eight."

And that's when it dawns on him.

"Jana...I'm so sorry. I didn't...." She looks at him quizzically not understanding. "You're still eight, but you've grown up."
"Yeah, it's kind of nice being all grown up! I have a motorcycle!"
"No...that's not it. I've robbed you of the best years of your life."
She looks at him again, unable to understand.
"What father doesn't wish his daughter to grow up into a fine young woman?"

That evening, he shows her to bed, letting her take his bed, while he sleeps in the other room. Before he leaves, she looks at him with a look of peace and tranquility. He looks at her as a father who has hurt his daughter badly. "It's okay, Daddy. I found you." He leaves on the verge of tears.

Sylvia, in her pack, remarks: "He's so hurt that he's rushed you into adulthood."
"But he can make me young again! He just has to give up his wish, and things will go back to the way they were."
"But will they really? You'll be young again, but the world will still be changed. All those people from the old world will still be gone. The wishes will still have people trapped in their spells. If he gives up his wish...you'll be too young and small to finish what we started."
"I don't care," she pouts, allowing herself to be truly a child again. "I'll be with dad again."
Sylvia pauses, not wanting to play the next card: "And...what of your mother?"

She wakes up the next day, to find him hammering out a shield with 42 divots on it. "I had a dream last night...I saw this so clearly, I had to make it. It's simple, but it's yours." He cools it a bit. "You'll need it out there. To keep you safe, and keep me from worrying."
"You knew I would be leaving?"
"I'm your father. I know everything about you."
"I'm sorry, daddy, I..."
"You can't take my wish without becoming a child again...my child. And you can't finish your job as an eight year old. If you finish, and everything returns to normal, you'll be my little girl again. And if not, you're one wishstone away from being my child in this world." He hands her the shield. "Take this. It'll keep your old Dad from worrying about you."

She leaves promising to return, whether she finishes or fails her quest. As she drives off, he mutters quietly: "And if you find your mother, send her my love."