“What is your wish?”
The genie’s voice was loud and clear. Oscar felt a grin stretch across his face. Who knew spending all day on the beach could have paid off like this?
His afternoons were often spent near the huge banks of the sea near his town, skipping stones into the gaping maw of the incoming waves. Once, the beach had stretched farther out, but the waves had since come in. This afternoon, Oscar had picked up a very unassuming stone; it had looked just like all the other countless smooth rocks that littered the beach.
Oscar had tossed it into the ocean, like the ones before it. As the stone had hit the water, it had burst into a flash of light. The next moment, he had saw a small figure floating in front of him, oddly translucent.
It was roughly human-shaped and see-through, with a blobby head and two bright dots for eyes. And then it had spoken: “Whew! That was a long time to be stuck in there! It feels great to be outside again! Thank you, my friend!”
Oscar had looked on, and his mouth had opened. “You’re… a genie?” he asked.
The figure had looked a little embarrassed. “Yep! The name is Thymia, and I’m at your service!”
“I’m Oscar,” Oscar had said, “it’s nice to meet you, Thymia.” He had hoped he was being polite enough; it wouldn’t do to make a genie angry, especially if he hoped to ask for wishes.
“It is nice to meet you, friend Oscar!”
“Uh, so do I get any wishes for freeing you?” Oscar had asked. His heart had beat very fast with anticipation.
“Why of course, friend! What is your wish?” Thymia asked.
Oscar felt thrown back. His mind began spinning. He had read all of the stories with people and wishes before— and thought all of those people were incredibly foolish. A mountain of gold? Eternal youth? What poor imaginations they had! Now was his chance to show them what a creative mind could come up with!
But, first, common sense. It wouldn’t do to end up with a wish he’d later come to regret, though Oscar. He would have to be careful.
“Can I wish for more wishes?” he asked, “If that’s not allowed, can I wish for it to be allowed?”
“Erm,” said Thymia.
“Can I wish to change how the world works?” he continued, “Otherwise, can I wish for knowledge of how the world works and how to change it myself?”
“Erm,” said Thymia.
“Can I wish for something I can’t really describe? Would you be able to know what I wanted? How abstract of a wish can you grant?”
“Erm,” said Thymia. “I think you have the wrong idea of what’s supposed to happen here.”
“I can’t actually grant wishes.” Thymia looked sheepish. “I mean, I don’t really have any power over the world. So I’d be happy to help you achieve your wish, but I’m really only good for moral support.”
“Oh,” said Oscar, heart sinking. “Then do you have any powerful knowledge about the world? Ancient secrets? Hidden lore?”
“Not really,” said Thymia.
“Can you smite someone? Slip into their mind? Do any magic whatsoever?” asked Oscar.
“I don’t think so,” said Thymia. “I can float around and talk to people, though.”
“Ah, okay Thymia, that’s fine.” said Oscar.
He wasn’t sure how to respond. What was he going to do, blame the nice genie for not living up to his unrealistic expectations? Mentally, he cursed the authors who had apparently just wrote wish-fulfillment fantasies. None of his stories had ever turned out like this.
“I wish I knew how to manage this situation,” he said, rubbing his temple.
“That’s a pretty good wish,” said Thymia. “I can help you achieve that!”
Oscar realized. “Wait, I didn’t meant for it to come out like that! Really! Is that my only wish now?” he asked.
“Nope; you get as many wishes as you want, friend Oscar!” Thymia floated around and gestured with its hands.
“Oh,” he said. “This is really quite a confusing tangle.”
Oscar tried to wrap around things. He’d found a genie that easily granted wishes… except that it had little real power to carry them out. So it was really more of a companion than a genie. Surely there was a loophole somewhere he could exploit? He decided to bring Thymia to Old Helen, who was much better at this sort of thing.
The setting sun stretched low over the horizon. Oscar shivered a little in the evening air.
“Let’s head back, Thymia,” he said. “There’s someone I want you to meet.”
“Sure,” the genie happily obliged.
The pair set off back to town.