The year Dan was twelve was the best of his life.
Not the first year he was twelve, the year his parents divorced, the year his mother moved him across state away from all his friends. It was the second year, the one that came after almost two decades had passed since the first one, that was idyllic.
Like the first time, Dan was living alone with his mother. But his new mother, instead of needing to work over time to make ends meet, seemed to have as much time as he could possibly want, driving him from school, where his classes seemed trivially easy, to baseball practice, where he dominated the team.
Also like the first time, Dan didn’t have any good friends. But the first time, it had been because he was new, and a bit socially awkward, and no one wanted to be friends with him. The second time, he was easily the most popular kid in the sixth grade, and he was invited to everything. But all the other kids he met seemed dull and uninteresting. It was fine hanging out with them at school, but none of them ever argued with him, or even disagreed with him, so it didn’t seem worth spending much time with them.
The result was that Dan spent a lot of time with his mother, and with his pet dog, Max (another thing he’d desperately wanted but not gotten the first time he was twelve). True, his mother babied him a bit, and he let her, but not too much, and it wasn’t like he had to worry about being made fun of. (The day before "Wear Your Pajamas to School Day," wanting to wear his favorite PJs, he tried an experiement, telling everyone that, in his opinion, the coolest pajamas were ones with your name embroidered on. The next day, every last student had turned up in PJs with their name embroidered across the chest.)
The crowning glory was his birthday, a huge party with games and cake galore. All his friends---his entire grade---came, each one bringing a present, so many he couldn’t keep track of them. And at the end, when it came time to blow out his candles and make a wish, his mother brought out a cake with twelve candles, he knew that he’d get to enjoy another year of being twelve.
"I wish," he announced, "for next year to be just as good as the last one!" Everyone cheered.
They say that if you tell people what you wish for, it won’t come true.