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by Maryetta Ackenbom
I’m strolling along the Yucatan seashore one day, thinking of returning home because the sun is going down and I am getting tired. Stooping to check a seashell. I brush off the sand around it and find glass, buried in the sand. I dig it out.
I have a lightbulb, an old-fashioned incandescent bulb, maybe 60 watts. It is nicely etched by its journey through the waves and dunes, so I decide to keep it. Maybe it would have antique value some day. I polish it with my hand as I amble back to my little hut on the beach.
“Hey!” I hear.
Looking around, I don’t see a soul. “Hello?”
“Hey, look at me!”
The sound is coming from the light bulb. “Impossible,” I mumble. I look at the light bulb, rubbing my hand over the etched surface.
“Not impossible, I’m talking to you, you dolt!” The voice is louder.
“What are you, a genie or something?” Am I finally going ‘round the bend?
“No, you’re not crazy, and yes, I’m a genie. Screw the top off this thing.”
“I don’t want to do that. It will break.”
“Trrrust me.” The voice sounds like it’s out of an old mafia movie. “It won’t break. Twist it.”
Gingerly, I push the top in the right direction, like opening a bottle. The metal top comes off easily. Out comes a cloud of smoke, which immediately condenses into the semblance of an Arab-type genie, complete with clown hat and pantaloons. And a sabre.
“Well, don’t just stare,” shouted the image. “Make a wish!”
Now this is what I’ve always dreamed of, a genie offering to grant me a wish. No, wait, he didn’t say he’d grant a wish, he said, “Make a wish.” Something funny about this genie.
“Aren’t you supposed to offer to grant me three wishes?” I snarl.
“Whadda ya want for a beat-up old light bulb?”
“I want my three wishes.” I almost hiss.
“No room for three. Besides, think of inflation, the state of the economy. One wish, that’s all.”
“And you’ll grant it? Could I really trust you?”
“Of course you can, kiddo. What do you think I am, a pirate or something?”
“Hey, you can’t even find a modern fluorescent tube to live in. Think you can fool me?”
“Oh my Allah, it’s a smarty-pants Gringo. Whatcha want for a nickel?”
“Okay, how about…”
“No, no, I know what you’re gonna say. No peace, there’s never peace in the world. Think of something a little grander, something for you, just you. And then give me back my lightbulb. Or find me an oil lamp, like I had before.”
I make a snarky face. I think I’ve got him. “Right. I wish for three more wishes.”
“You can’t do that, no, that’s not ethical! Last chance, Dumbo. One wish.”
“All right. Who needs you?” I breathe deeply. “I wish you’d just disappear.”
He does, and the light bulb crumbles into grains of silicone in my fingers.
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