Today was a great day. I had an absolutely wonderful time with my oldest sister and her family at the beach. Afterwards, I made myself an absolutely delicious spaghetti dinner. You know, sometimes, I think there’s no greater feeling than when you’re so completely stuffed with pasta that your chest becomes tight and breathing is momentarily impeded. Then again, maybe that’s just me. I had some beer and enjoyed some really great movies, too. I just watched this one movie titled, “All Good Things” starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst and Frank Lagella. Apparently, it’s based upon the true story of the missing person case of Katie Marks. I’m currently investigating the veracity of the facts as portrayed in the movie, but OH MAN – it was so entertaining! Gosling and Dunst had a totally believable tortured chemistry; Gosling himself is so beautiful but there is something mysterious, and possibly dangerous, lurking beneath the surface, and that is truly where the attraction is. I really believe that a strong majority of women prefer attractive men who are vague and impossible to fully figure out. Hell, I’d even say that we all prefer a partner who keeps us on our toes and keeps us guessing. If there is no mystery, than what is left? In my opinion, that complacency I so fear is left. Also, that movie (for me, at least) really proves that well-known saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” It had me captivated because the male protagonist is mind-boggling; suspected of murder, cross-dressing, pretending to be mute, confessing to murder … he’s a strange, strange character who lives, breathes and currently resides in New York City. He’s a veritable goldmine of inspiration. There has to be more out there, no?
Excuse these ramblings – I had a few beers with dinner. That, coupled with the movies I watched, seem to have inspired me and stimulated my creative neurons. I hope you enjoy the result.
THE PROMPT: “Three Wishes”
You bump into a genie and she offers to grant you three wishes. What are your wishes and why?
Sean was on his way out; leaving the party that was, by all other accounts, still raging. He had to be up early the next morning for work and unlike some of his friends, he couldn’t meddle through the day hung over. A couple of years ago, in college, he would have certainly stayed past 2:00AM and convinced everyone else to stay as well. With an air of nostalgia hanging about his small smile, his feet hit the pavement outside the apartment building, and headed towards the right. Thinking back to college kept Sean distracted and as one foot was put in front of the other, he was unaware of the sights, sounds and smells around him – the same sights, sounds and smells that captivated so many others. Mindlessly, he reached inside his coat for his battered pack of cigarettes. Not pausing as he lit the cigarette he had chosen to dangle from thin lips, he bumped hard into another passerby. The cigarette fell to the ground, wet from the rain just an hour or so early, and his spirits fell with it. He looked to the stranger with a markedly adolescent pout.
“Oh hey, I’m sorry,” the stranger replied. The reply was not at all what Sean had expected – and not at all what Sean would have offered – so he focused on the human being before him. She was very thin with long, dark hair. He wondered if she had styled it or something, like before the rain came, because now it just hung heavily. Her eyes were ringed in dark, smudged eyeliner and mascara and Sean also wondered if she had been walking in the rain. Did she not have a car? Was she poor? Why was she being so nice? She pulled her hair back as best she could, but really, all it did was stick to her fingers and the wet mass was now surely knotted.
“It’s my fault, really. I should have been looking where I was going. Truth is I’m coming from a party and things are fuzzy,” he said, smiling weakly. Stepping closer, Sean asked, “Are you okay? You’re all wet. Do you need me to call you a cab or something?”
The lines in the young woman’s face seemed to lengthen and become smooth. A change of emotion was passing over her, but Sean was not sober enough to follow it. Her tone was kind when she said, “That’s very sweet of you, but really, I’m okay. I’m on my way to a party, too.” She indicated what she was wearing and Sean felt very stupid for not noticing earlier – she looked like Jasmine from “Aladdin.” The light blue bikini-kind of top with the billowing pants that rode the hips, complete with sandals, made for the perfect Arabian princess.
“I like your costume. Jasmine, right?”
She looked down to her feet, as if she were embarrassed. “No – actually, I’m supposed to be a genie.”
“I see that,” Sean suddenly insisted. “I totally see that! It’s well done.”
She laughed and shrugged good-naturedly. “You really are sweet.” She paused for a moment, perhaps to consider him, before she said, “Is there something I can do for you? Do you need more cigarettes?” Her dark eyes lighted at the fallen nicotine between them.
Sean shook his head. “Nah, I should quit anyway. I’m always game for three wishes.”
“Three wishes?” The young repeated the words because she was confused. Sean had thought he was being clever.
“Genies give three wishes, right?” he explained, feeling more and more stupid. How dare he try to be anything but buzzed and tired?
The young woman stood tall before him, straightening her back and squaring her shoulders. She shook her long, dark hair and looked incredibly proud. In a way that was more impressive than insulting, she looked down her nose at Sean and said, “Your wish is my command.”
“Okay,” Sean laughed. “First, I’d like enough money to pay off my student loans and never work again. I don’t have to be crazy rich, just comfortable.”
Nodding, she crossed her arms over her chest. “Why?”
Sean laughed. “Genies don’t have to know why. They never ask for reasons in the movies.”
She didn’t laugh or smile. She remained stoic.
“Well,” Sean began haltingly, “I hate my job. I only show up to the office for the paycheck because in this society, you need money. You need money for food and clothes and shelter, and you need it to be able to do what you want. For example, I would love to spend a week in every state in this country. I could do it in a year, probably, so I have the time. Hell, I have nothing but time. I have the desire, the opportunity, but not the means. I would need to pay for gas, food, hotels and to do that, I would need an income, but there is no income when you’re road-tripping. I just want to live, you know?”
“You have two more wishes.”
Sean was less amused and this time, answered brusquely. “I’d want the same for my family. Immediate family, that is; mom, dad and my two sisters and their kids.”
“I thought that would be obvious,” Sean sighed. “It’s because I love them and I care about them, want to share my happiness with them, and want them to have the same opportunities.”
She took a step backwards. “You have one more.”
“Look, this isn’t fun anymore. I’m sorry I ran into you. Enjoy your party.” Sean made to walk past the young woman, but she blocked his path, moving deftly. After all, she was sober.
“You have one more, Sean. Use it,” she said.
“Fine; I would love to bump into Christine Horton from high school and tell her I’m sorry. I’d tell her that I really did like her, and that I should have been man enough to admit that. I’d tell her I’m sorry no one would sit with her at lunch, and that I didn’t know they were going to read her diary out loud at the lunch table, or post copies of entries in the bathroom. I wish for this because it still bothers me. I think about her all the time and the awful things I did. I’d want her to forgive me.”
She softened and seemed to shrink before him. “There was no hesitation on that one. It’s late, you’ve been drinking and yet, that was surprisingly lucid and specific.” Covering her mouth with her hand, she mumbled, “You’ve been holding on to that one for a while.”
Sean pushed past her. “Goodnight; I’m sorry I knocked into you.” Decidedly grumpy, Sean was walking fast, mentally kicking himself for leaving the party at all. He had been so carefree and had so been looking forward to falling into bed with a dumb grin stretched across his face. Now he was bitter and regretful. Why couldn’t he have bumped into some hot chick? Why was it always the crazies he met? Why hadn’t he left well enough alone? Why had he tried to impress her with the cleverness he didn’t possess, drunk or sober?
Sean made it home some time later, crashing into bed.
He awoke late for work the next morning, just barely making it to the staff meeting on time. The meeting was long, tedious and awful. To avoid falling asleep at his desk, Sean decided to head out for lunch. He was devoid of cash, so he made a quick stop at the ATM. Green in hand, he waited for his receipt. It printed and as Sean turned to walk away, he read the information.
There was suddenly $500,000 in his checking account.