YOUR OWN PERSONAL GENIE • by Grá Linnaea

Damn you and this house.

Seventy years I’ve lived as your husband. Seventy years since you dug me up, since you rubbed my lamp and bound me to your side.

You could have asked for immortality. You could have been rich, powerful, attractive.

But no, you chose me.

You trapped me here, tricked me into loving you, locked me to your side to watch you grow old.

All I do is wait, wait to get away from you. And your damnable cousins and your cabinet full of collectible salt shakers. And our barky little dog.

Our third I might add. Must a djinn of my rank share his lamp with a little dog?

Now you are old and ugly and small and if I could, I would take our children from you and this cluttered life.

And what a mess. What a mess this life has been. Could anything have prepared me for a lifetime of deaths and relatives and jobs, of in-laws and diapers.

Did the sorcerers of Maghreb prepare me to become a grandfather? A great-grandfather? What can my thousands of years of wisdom teach a child who would rather play PlayStation than hear marvelous tales of the Sassanid Empire.

And where are you now? Do you even remember me? Do you remember when I flew you from one pole to the other? What I am to do with seventy years of mundane memories of love and our complacent household?

It is not fitting.

When you die I will go back to my safe warm lamp until another buz-baz decides they need more than what they have already.

And if they ask me to marry them I will say no! The heavens will thunder no! I will rub their noses in no.

No, I will not miss you. I will never think again about our wedding day or our honeymoon, so long ago. I won’t be taking our photo albums with me when I go. When I visit our children we will speak only of their lives. Never of you.

Never of you.

Fine, fine, I will hold your trembling hand, I will sit and tell you stories of our past, stories you should remember, but you don’t.

I will stroke your wiry hair and tell you that you are as pretty as always.

It won’t be long now till I am away from you and all this mess. I will be away from this life and memories of love I can’t understand and shouldn’t be capable of. From this pollution and noise and uncertainty. I will be rid of you and your dowdy freckled skin.

Damn you.


Grá Linnaea has been a recording engineer, a composer, a counselor and a guitarist in a touring heavy metal band. He lives in an intentional community in Oregon. Last year Grá graduated from the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, won the Whidbey Writers Award and sold twelve short stories. He is the facilitator of The Wordos Writing Workshop and an associate editor for Shimmer magazine. When not writing, he works as a gay-rights activist and open-source software advocate and teaches classes on how to be happy. Recent publications include the Escape Clause and MOTA anthologies.


This story was sponsored by
Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.


Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • That was marvelous, Grá. I gave it a five.

  • Bob

    A cute concept, but the tone is a little muddied. He loves her, that much is clear from the fifth paragraph. But most of the rest of the story consists of petty complaints about diapers, in-laws and Playstation. If he truly loves her, and he must if that was her wish, then I would have expected to see more, and more nuanced, anguish at his loss of her.

  • Margie

    2 stars. Sweet concept. but muddled. 🙁

  • Reminds me of George Jones, ‘She still thinks I care,’ i wonder if you’ve heard it, Gra. I like it but it is a little less clear then Mr. Jones version, still gave it a five though. It’s not really fair to compared people with George Jones after all.

    ‘Just because I ask a friend about her
    Just because I spoke her name somewhere
    Just because I rang her number by mistake today
    She thinks I still care’

  • Jen

    I really liked this story. At first, I thought the genie merely detested the woman nad was hapyy to be rid of her but then came the last paragraph where we see he really does love her. How touching.
    It was an interesting and original concept too, the man as the enslaved married genie, sort of like a role reversal of “I Dream of Jeanie.” I like the idea very much, showing that a male genie could fall in love in love and become married just as easily a female one.

  • J.C. Towler

    Interesting choice of a genie as the narrator/protag. The story needed someone who was long-lived, obviously, to set this up, but I think using a genie introduces a lot of questions and complications, particularly an “undefined” genie. If it isn’t explained, then I think many readers are going to imagine a genie somewhere in the Barbara Eden to Genie from Aladdin range. Why is he complaining about diapers and menial tasks? Can’t those be solved with a snap (or blink)? How can Playstation compete with the magical things a genie can do? Didn’t quite work for me.

    Now if a character similar to, say, a Highlander, or other less fantastic immortal, had been used that might have been more effective.

    Anyway, points for pointing out the downside of immortality and an otherwise well-written story.

    –John

  • Great! Original! The playing off of “coerced love” against the genie’s original feelings was very well done. Five brass lamps.

  • DebE

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. I kept waiting for some display of love. I thought his words were just a front to avoid showing emotion. He just seemed mean. The hidden message was way too far hidden for my taste.

  • I really loved this story! The protagonist is great, and I love how his words of hatred mask the love and anguish underneath. He’s in the anger stage of denial at her death. Really well done — 5 stars from me!

  • Sharon

    Such nuance isn’t for everyone, obviously, but I thought it was a brilliant story. It began to unfold in my mind right after I scanned it and realized that her wish was for the genie to become a mortal man for her lifetime, and love her. She got her wish and the genie realizes he will never be the same after this experience.

    My one teeny crit was wondering how he plans to visit their children later if he resumes his genie-hood after her death.

  • I absolutely love this story. To put yourself into the figurative shoes of an immortal being and take an unflinching inventory of a typical human lifespan requires grit. Touching and harsh at the same time, much like life itself. Kudos!

  • pdwarner

    Loved this story. Aren’t we all genies when we choose who to spend our lives with? We’re all so powerful and certain of our immortality. Yet, we fall in love and find ourselves in the everyday minutia of diapers and annoying pets and dead relatives who we’ve grow to care about. And we resent it because these things have kept us from our higher calling. The end realization that it’s the everyday, inconsequential pieces of a loving life that is truly missed, is very powerful.

  • Rick

    Perfect.

  • Worked for me! Great voice, very inventive. If petty complaints are all one can come up with, what a wonderful marriage it must have been.

    This would be very effective read aloud; it needs those nuances to come across fully, as it needs to be read carefully and not skimmed.

  • Arthur

    He had to go through with it; it was in the ‘contract’. He’d obviously got more out of it than he could admit. Poignant.