WISHFUL THINKING • by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

“So that’s how it works.” Jean beamed at him and jiggled her hips slightly. “It’s quite simple, really.”

He didn’t seem to be reacting. She furrowed her brow and then smiled a bit more forcefully. “So, go ahead then.”

He was a nice-enough-looking man, dark hair, strong jaw, vivid brown eyes. She certainly didn’t think she was going to mind doing his bidding. The problem was that he wasn’t actually asking her to do anything.

He cleared his throat.

She wasn’t sure how to move things forward. She tugged lightly on her bright red bikini top and toned down her smile a bit. “Is there something wrong?”

Finally he spoke, a hesitant voice. “What if… what if I say no?”

Jean stared at him in consternation. “Well, you can’t, I mean, it doesn’t, well…” She bit her lip to stop the words from gushing out. You can’t do that, she wanted to tell him. It shouldn’t even occur to you. I’m here for your pleasure, you can’t… you can’t just… She shook her head as the words rebounded through her mind: you can’t just say no.

She took a deep breath and found the words she needed. “Why would you want to do such a thing?” She jiggled her cleavage and gave him a hopeful smile. “Am I not what you expected?”

“Not really,” he said. She decided his jaw was not actually that strong and thinking about it the long lashes around his eyes made him look a bit effeminate. Clearly he had issues.

“I can be whatever you wish for,” she said. She smiled in a conciliatory way, tugging at the bikini again. “You just need to tell me.” It wasn’t a complicated concept. Why was he being so difficult?

“I just think, well, I think maybe I am going to be better off not wishing.”

“Why would you think that?”

He shrugged and her temper got the better of her.

“Then goddamn it why the hell did you rub the lamp?”

He nodded over at the closed door. “My wife. It’s a present. I just wanted to clean it up before giving it to her. I didn’t expect you to show up. I was just dusting, you know?”

“Dusting?” She shuddered a bit. “No, I don’t know. And I hope I don’t need to find out. That’s not what you want, is it? Cleaning this place up?” Her nose wrinkled up at the thought.

He let out a startled laugh as he shook his head. “Strange woman in the house doing the dusting?” He glanced over at the closed door again. “She wouldn’t believe me if I told her. I think the best thing would be for you to leave.”

“Without a single wish?” She shimmied a bit in frustration. “Do you really mean that?”

He sighed and looked her straight in the eye. “I wish you’d disappear. Would that do?”

She beamed at him as she faded away. Her voice echoed through the room after she was gone: “That’ll do nicely, thank you.”

A small piece of paper fluttered to the ground in front of him. He grunted slightly as he bent over to pick it up.

“We value your opinion,” it said. “Please rate this genie on a scale of 1 to 10.”

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is a German-American living in Spain and writing about what she sees in the room that isn’t there.

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