The Genie

I wandered through an antique shop one day.

You know the one. The kind where the dust is caked on everything, from the books to the cups to the old vinyl records in the back. The kind that has horrible green paisley wallpaper that’s faded, peeling, and smells of an old musty closet. The kind that’s stacked wall to wall with treasures, each with their own story.

I wandered though the shop and caught sight of a lamp.

You know the one. The kind that is golden and tarnished, with intricate etchings on the side. The kind that has seen its better days and been tossed aside as one person’s garbage. The kind that has illuminated church rituals and old desks and was probably held by Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1800’s.

I wandered though the shop, caught sight of a lamp and picked up that lamp.

You know the story. The kind where I ran my fingers over it out of curiosity: down the etchings that were almost non-existent due to the accumulation of dust and dirt; over the handle that smelled of gold-coated iron, emitting a metallic odor I could almost taste on my tongue; at the mouth, where both flame and oil had flowed, lighting old homes and casting desk-shaped shadows on walls.

I wandered through the shop, caught sight of a lamp, picked up the lamp, and whispered, “Tell me all your secrets.”

You know the story. The kind where a genie, or jinn, or spirit emerges. The kind that gives me 3 wishes of near-unlimited power. The kind that says “Poof! Whaddya need? Poof! Whaddya need? Poof! Whaddya need?” The kind that’s wisecracking and sassy and caring all at once. The kind who has a voice we all miss every day.

I wandered through the shop, caught sight of a lamp, picked up the lamp, whispered, “Tell me all your secrets,” and was faced with immeasurable power.

You know the story. The kind where I use these wishes for the world. The kind where I’m a “good” person: I wish for world peace, no more hunger, and for everyone to be healthy. The kind where I say wishes that some vapid pageant contestant says he or she would want.

But you don’t know this story anymore. I don’t care if the genie is staring at me with a disapproving look so severe only my mother could manage to configure her face in a similar way. I don’t care if he wants me to use the wishes to make him free or to better the world.

I want to use them on myself.

I want to wish to speak to God, to know the divine and have all my doubts and questions answered. I want to wish for immeasurable wealth, enough to never have to worry about spending limits or debts ever again. I want to wish for superpowers, not to be a superhero, but for the superhuman abilities many of them possess. I want to wish for trivial things, for video games and vinyl records and new home appliances that I’ll never use. I want to wish I could say every thought that pops into my head instead of bottling them up for fear of social and professional consequences. I want to wish that I were as happy on the inside as I try to portray myself to be on the outside. I want to use all the wishes on myself, and I want to wish that I didn’t care if it makes me an asshole.

Then I open my eyes. I’m in the same shop, with the same wallpaper and the same musty smell, holding the same lamp, just wishing I had taken the opportunity to make any one of those wishes come true.







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