Three wishes

By , January 27, 2011 2:43 pm

This came to me after reading a story about a genie. (Obviously.) My nit-pick concern is how to deal with tenses, as I sort of go back and forth between present and past – any suggestions would be appreciated. Also not sure if this story is worth continuing, since its original goal was teasing out my own issues. Shocking, I know. Anyway, thoughts on whether you’d like to see more would also be appreciated.

“I don’t understand.” I’d gotten the lamp as a lark, at a local thrift store. It was nothing impressive: tarnished metal, battered in a few places, curving upward into a classic “genie’s lamp” spout. I figured I would put it on a shelf, next to my LEGO Star Wars scene and Happy Meal toys of Robin Hood and Peter Pan. An interesting conversation piece, right? Something amusing and unusual, to prompt a laugh from guests and a distraction for me when I should be working. No one ever expects to find themselves in the middle of a fairy tale, the middle of 1001 Arabian Nights. You think about it, sure. Ask your friends, have late night discussions about what you would do with those three wishes. You never expect it to happen.

“I believe your culture is full of stories about genies, Master. Jinn, Ifrit, whatever you wish me to be called.” The jinni spoke with an androgynous voice, emanating from a smokey body, not clearly male or female. In true fairy tale fashion, the incense-like smoke originated from the lamp and spread upwards into an unreasonably solid-looking cloud. The smoke continued to pour out, but hadn’t expanded past the jinni’s “body” or filled the room; the only smell was a subtle hint of something floral, impossible to pin down. When the jinni spoke, the cloud around its face swirled, and subtle puffs of smoke emerged out from where its mouth would be, like breathing out on a cold day. “What is it that you do not understand? As the one who freed me from the prison of Solomon’s seal, you are entitled to three wishes, delivered to the best of my ability. A superficial read of your thoughts indicates you already understand the general guidelines from countless tales of fiction: no taking of life, no returning of life from beyond the veil, no wishing for additional wishes. There are more esoteric rules, but I will appraise you of those if and when you encounter them. For all that, you are entitled to three wishes, Master.” I could hear the capital ‘M.’

How do you decide on what to wish for, when wishing for what you always wanted would erase and rewrite your entire life?

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