Three Wishes

Smoke billowed from the lamp and slowly took the form of a large, androgynous person. The whole scene looked like a special effect in a movie. The creature spoke with a booming voice.

“You may have three wishes. And before you ask, you cannot wish for more wishes.” It sounded bored.

“Can I wish for fewer wishes?” Yes, I’m a smart ass, but I was also genuinely curious.

“What? Fewer wishes? Why would you want to do that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I don’t need three.”

“So waste a wish or two. Wish for a penny or something.” Irritation was obvious in its voice, but there was something else, too. Interest.

“Okay. So how much of a stickler are you? Will you twist my words to create unintended outcomes?”

“For someone who has just been granted wishes, you ask a lot of questions.”

“I just know that everything comes with a price. I’m trying to decide if I’m willing to pay what these wishes will cost.”

“Just be clear. You’ll get what you ask for.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. What do you get out of this? I mean, you can’t be doing this just out of the goodness of your heart.”

Exasperation was becoming increasingly evident in its body language. “Why do you care? Are you always this suspicious when people give you gifts?”

“Do you like doing this? Is it fulfilling?”

“Are you going to make a wish or not?”

“What happens if I don’t? Do I lose them?”

The genie sighed. “No. You summoned me. I have to grant you three wishes, and I can’t move on until you do.”

“Really? That sounds kind of awful. I’m sorry I’ve kept you so long. Would you like me to make them so you can leave?”

It looked at me carefully. “You do ask a lot of questions, but at least you’re not boring.”

“Do you get lonely?”

“Honestly, I’ve never thought about it. I was created to exist in the lamp and to grant wishes. That’s the only existence I’ve known, so I have nothing to compare it to. Hard to feel lonely if this is the only reference point.”

“So you’ve never thought about a different life?”

“This is my purpose. There are no other options.”

“Hmm. I think I’ll take that penny now.”

“What?”

“I wish for a penny.”

“Are you sure? You want one of your wishes to be for a penny?”

“Yep.”

“Very well.”

I didn’t see it wave its hands or even move, yet a penny suddenly appeared before me.

“So did this come from somewhere? Or did you make it?”

“It came from somewhere. You didn’t ask for a counterfeit penny, after all. And no, I didn’t take it from someone; it had been lost. Now it’s yours.”

“Really? So if I asked for a million dollars, where would it come from?”

“Is that your second wish?” I could hear a little disappointment in its voice.

“No. I was just wondering where the money would come from.”

The genie smiled. “Good. I was afraid you had gotten boring.”

“What about getting rid of all weapons?”

“Don’t bother. Others have tried. Sadly it doesn’t work.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not sure. Some things are beyond my power. Until humans want to get rid of them, it seems you’re stuck with them.”

“That sucks.”

“Is there really nothing you want? No one has ever wished for a penny before. In fact, no one has taken so long to use their wishes.”

“Well, I believe you’re not out to trick me, given your reactions so far. But there really isn’t anything I can think of. Your response to the weapons idea suggests you can’t do much about social issues, either. I’m not foolish enough to try to bring back the dead. I can’t really think of anything.”

“I’m stuck here until you do.”

“Can I free you from the lamp?”

The smile on the genie’s face got bigger. “I know you mean well, and it’s a thoughtful idea, but the lamp is my home. Without it, I’m not sure what I’d be.”

“I bet you get a lot of dumb, even mean, requests.”

“Sometimes.”

“Okay, how about this. I wish you could decide whether or not to grant someone’s wish.”

“Seriously?”

“Why not? I mean if you’re stuck with this existence, you should at least have a say in what you do.”

“Are you sure about this wish?”

“Yes.”

“Very well. Your wish is granted.”

“Excellent.”

“You are the oddest human being I think I’ve ever met.”

“Really? That’s sweet of you to say.”

“Is it?”

“Indeed. And I think I know what my third wish is.”

“Shouldn’t you have made that before you let me decide whether I will grant wishes?”

“Nope. My third wish is that you and I can hang out and be friends. But only if you want to.”

“That’s your third wish?”

“Yes.”

“Definitely the oddest.”

“Is that a yes?”

“Indeed.”

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