Three Wishes

John stretched. He had a tendency to sleep in on the weekends when he didn’t work. He did not like that. Sleeping the day away will only lead to a wasted day. “Early to rise makes men healthy and wise” was a saying that John much preferred over “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” John stood up and put on his robe and slippers.

Once warm and surrounded by softness, he went down the hall and into the kitchen for his breakfast. Pouring cereal and milk into a bowl allowed for his mind to wander. It never wandered that far, always back to his job. John always thought about how he could do his job better.

There was a knock on the door. John’s brow furrowed in confusion. After returning the milk carton to the fridge he went to answer. A delivery man stood outside holding a package. John signed for it and closed the door placing the package on the coffee table. Looking around he couldn’t find his pocket knife. Probably in the other room, but his keys were right here. He used one to tear the tape and open the box.

Inside under a layer of packing peanuts was a small oil lamp. Around the lid was an engraving. Oddly enough it was in English. It read, “Rub thrice; wish thrice.” John chuckled. It has been a long time since he believed in fairy tales such as genies and wishes. Before he placed the lamp back in the box, he decided to amuse himself.

He shook his arm so his sleeve covered his hand and rubbed the lamp three times. And then the lamp began to shake. John did not expect this. Smoke erupted from the tip. When the smoke cleared John saw a genie standing in the middle of his living room. She coughed and waved her hand to shake off the smoke. The genie looked up at him.

“Well? What do you want?” she coughed.

“I’m sorry?”

“You rubbed my lamp, you get your wishes now.”

John’s brain went into overload. People have asked him all his life what he would do if he had three wishes, and he never knew what to say. Intelligence was too selfish. World peace was too abstract. And he didn’t dare wish for material gain. Partly because it was selfish, but mainly because he was raised on the stories of genies. If he wished for money then this genie will probably kill someone so that he would inherit the money. John would never risk someone’s life in a case like this.

The genie looked bored. She wandered around his apartment while John went in search for scratch paper to jolt down his plausible wish ideas. This continued for a while.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Genie. I can’t think of any wishes that will be good. They are all too selfish or greedy, too abstract or impossible, or too risky in general. I can’t think of any wish that would be appropriate for a real genie. But I’m fine with that. I like my life where it is.”

She raised an eyebrow then shrugged. “Have it your way,” she said calmly. And with a snap of her fingers she faded into smoke and was sucked back into the lamp.

John may not know what he’d wish for, but he did know someone who did. He packed the lamp back into the box and addressed it to his friend. He mailed the lamp and walked back into the kitchen. The cereal was soggy.

The next day, Ben awoke when someone knocked on his door. He lazily got off the couch and answered the door. He signed for a package and threw it on the couch. He opened it and rubbed the lamp without reading the inscription (Ben rubs anything that even remotely resembles a genie’s lamp). The same genie appeared in front of him. Without hesitation he used his three wishes. It was the best breakfast he ever had.

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