I sucked out the last of the slush from the bottom of my Freezie as I faced the genie. I couldn’t find his lamp, so I rubbed the gritty block wall just over his eyes—rubbing until my hands turned raw. I didn’t trust him, not for a minute. But I wanted to cover all my bases. I had prayed. I begged the world and the universe, yelling my wishes into the night sky until my brother told me to shut up. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask the genie living in my alley.
Sitting on the parking curb, I looked him in the eye. Man to man. “I didn’t find your lamp. I mean…if you even have one. But I rubbed the dirt from your eyes. That should count for something. I won’t bother you with three wishes…if that’s even a thing. But I’ve got one. A big one. And if you can find it in your big blue heart to help me you, well…I’d owe you. I would come wash you down after the dust storms and get all the pigeon shit off your face.”
His eyes seemed to shift in my direction. “My dad is sick. Really sick. And I was hoping you could make him better.” I fiddled with the empty Freezie tube in my hands. “I want to play hide and seek with him again. He’s good at hiding, but I always find him, eventually. I don’t want to hear him throwing up or crying with my mom.” I looked up at those gigantic eyes. “Sorry,” I said, “That was a lot of wishes. Forget those. The first one is the one that matters.” I stand. “So, thanks for your time. And I mean it about keeping you clean. I’ll come every day if you make my dad better.”
Two weeks later, they painted over the genie. Two months later, my dad started feeling better. I never knew for sure who granted my wish, but I was thankful. And I washed down that wall every day until I went away to college. A promise is a promise.
Postcard Stories Podcast – An Author Reading.