O. S. Curran
Dec 23rd 2022
“A day of my life,” you say, “to cure my dog.”
“You will regret this,” they say. The genie, you’ve named them in your head, though you know that to be wrong. “Please, reconsider.”
“I’m certain,” you say.
“As you wish,” replies the genie, disapproval apparent in their voice.
Your dog makes a swift recovery. She’s an old thing, still, slow in gait and fast to tire, but well once more. She stays by your side, even as her saviour slips to the back of your mind. You hardly even contemplate the cost you’ve paid.
Months pass, but you feel again the temptation of the genie’s power.
“I’ve got a date tonight,” you say.
“Congratulations,” replies the genie, tone flat. “I wish you the best.”
“You know why I’m here. Is there anything you can do for me?”
“Think long and hard if this is what you want.”
Of course I have, you think to yourself.
“I just want something small—a bit of polish.”
“‘A bit of polish.’ Indeed. Two days, if you’re sure.”
It takes effect at once. Your posture fixes itself. A few wrinkles fade. Your step feels lighter.
Nothing much comes of the date. You don’t really mind. How easy it was, though—two days? Who cares for two days, doubtless decades away? A gym membership or a spa trip would cost more, and leave you with less.
Things go on. The genie stays on your mind, however, this time around. Such a small price, for what could become so much.
“I want to be rich,” you say on your next visit.
“You wouldn’t consider working for it?” the genie queries.
“We both know that’s not how the world is. I want to be rich.”
The genie stares at you for a long moment.
You feel their disappointment, but they are no more capable of denying their nature than you are yours.
“A week,” they say, and you nod without a moment’s further thought.
You come to them again. And again. And again.
At a certain point the genie stops telling you the price you pay each time. You hardly notice.
“Are you certain?” they ask. “Isn’t there another way?”
“Are you sure this is what you want?”
You scarcely stop to ask yourself.
You feel it one day, like a pit in the bottom of your heart.
You go to the genie once more. You aren’t friends; you could never be friends, but you feel as though you know each other. More deeply than most of those you would call friends.
“Save me,” you say.
“I cannot,” they reply.
“Don’t play with me. You’ve never refused me before, I know you can’t.”
“I cannot. Your time has come.”
“No, don’t tell me—don’t lie to me. Save me. I’ll give you a year, if you save me.”
“It’s been a long time since you paid but a year for your wishes. Regardless, you cannot bargain with that which you do not have.”
“What do you mean, ‘that which I do not have’? Snap your fingers, clap your hands, whatever it is you’ve got to do, whatever price I’ve got to pay—save me already,” you say, falling to your knees.
“Oh my. I forget sometimes, just how feeble your kind are. Just how much you refuse to be content with what you have. I see you at your worst, I know your worst self; every pain, every desire, every word said in anger or in greed. Your time has come, and there is nothing I can do to help you now.”
“What? You mean that? This… this is how it ends?”
“But my partner? My family? My dog?”
“All away from here. You will be found, do not worry, and they will mourn you, but in time even your memory shall be forgotten.”
“No, this can’t be it, this can’t be all—fix it,” you shout, your pitch rising.
“I am afraid it is.”
And that is how you end.
Alone, abandoned, afraid.
The genie remains there, watching. They do not smile. They do not shed a tear for you.
But they stay, watching.
O. S. Curran is a writer from Dublin, Ireland. Their passions include books, poetry, public transport, movies, Impressionist art, travel, & languages, and they can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/inevitably_oc.
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