Freddie shut his eyes. Hard. But when he opened them again, there she was still - a pale blue woman, standing - no, floating - right in the middle of the room.
“Bubbles,” he mumbled, staggering back. “I’ve had too many bubbles…”
She cleared her throat.
“Or maybe it was the buzzberry… or the bumbleleaf? Ugh, I knew I shouldn’t have mixed them.”
“LISTEN, you bumbling fool,” the woman interrupted harshly, making Freddie’s eyes jerk back up at her. Satisfied that his attention was undivided now, she continued, “I am the great and mighty Raya. Why have you summoned me this day, master?”
Fred was stunned. “Master?”
She sighed, obviously exasperated. “I am the great and mighty Raya, a Djinn, bound to this lamp and its owner in servitude. You have summoned me from my thousand-year slumber. You have three wishes, master.” Having finished her spiel, she massaged the bridge of her nose between her temple and forefinger as she muttered, “Seriously, after all this time, one would think this stuff was common knowledge by now.”
“Definitely the bumbleleaf… definitely.” Fred was back to muttering to himself, pacing and scratching his head. He might have seen bright colors sometimes or had the occasional weird dream, but hallucinations?
“Listen, buddy,” she called him back to the present once again. “I have limitless power. I can fulfill your deepest wishes, your darkest desires. So what will it be?”
“You mean like, magic?” This was so weird. Where was all of this coming from? Maybe that movie Fred had watched the other day had sparked his imagination… and now, dazed from too many herbs, it was all coming out again in this strange waking dream.
“Yes,” she sighed. “Like magic. I can do anything and everything you could ever think of.”
“Alllrighty then… I’ll just be going…” Fred turned toward the door. Better sleep this off, he thought, and never touch bumbleleaf again.
She moved to block his path. “You don’t believe me,” she stated. And in a low grumble she added, “Perfect, just perfect…” Straightening up and crossing her arms in front of her chest in an imposing gesture once more, she said, “I’ll prove it to you. Tell me what you want and I’ll make it happen.”
Fred sighed. Wow. What a persistent hallucination that was! Maybe he should just let it play out. “Alright”, he finally said. “Get me some hot dogs.”
With a pop, they appeared. A whole plate of hot dogs, just out of thin air, right there on the desk. Freddie stared.
“Well? Aren’t you going to eat them?” she grinned.
Fred moved forward reluctantly and then finally reached for one and took a bite. The bun was cold, and so was the sausage, but it tasted fine. As he was chewing, it began to sink in slowly. Could this be? A magical genie like from the movies…? The hot dogs sure felt real enough.
By the time the last bite was swallowed, he was convinced.
“So, you’re a genie?”
“Yes,” she sighed.
“And I can ask for whatever I want? You can do anything?”
She nodded, smiling. “I have been doing this for thousands of years and never have I been unable to fulfill a master’s wish.”
“Thousands of years?! Wow...” This was a concept Freddie had a hard time wrapping his head around. “That’s such a long time!”
For a moment, she looked startled. Then, just as quickly, she composed herself again. “It truly is,” she sighed. “I have been forced to live in this dusty old lamp for so long, always making the wishes of others come true, while hoping in vain that someday, someone would be kind enough free me.”
“That sounds terrible.” Freddie felt genuinely bad for the poor genie now. How boring it must be to be stuck in a teapot - lamp - whatever - for so long! “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You could use one of your wishes to free me. That is all.” She smiled. “It can be your third wish, of course, so you’d even have your other wishes still…”
“Well, that’s cool. I’ll do that then! Promise!” Freddie grinned to see the obvious joy on the genie’s face. “But I can still wish for other stuff first?”
“Yes, of course. So, what will it be?”
Now Fred was at a loss. Three wishes. He could ask for two things and then he’d free the genie with his last wish and she’d be happy. But what were the two things that he wanted?
After some silence, the genie probed, “Having a hard time deciding?”
“Yeah,” Fred admitted. “To be honest, I don’t really think I want anything.”
She pressed on, “Aw, come on. There must be something you desire. Think!”
The genie was becoming impatient now. “Go on, think! What was the last time you were truly happy? What do you want?”
Freddie tried. He thought really hard. His life had been pretty nice before his birthday… before being forced to get a job and be responsible and all that stupid stuff… but going back to that would mean not having his daughters, right? And he really loved those girls. No, that was out of the question.
Then it hit him.
“My time with Charity!” he blurted, “That’s when I was really, truly happy. I want that again!”
“As you wish,” the genie clapped her hands together twice.
A glow began to emanate from her, slowly engulfing everything around them.
And the last thing Freddie saw was her eyes…