Contest #253 winner 🏆

One thousand and three wishes

Submitted into Contest #253 in response to: Write a story that contains the line, "I wish we could stay here forever."... view prompt

99 comments

Drama Fiction Sad

One thousand and three wishes

He found it on his way to work. He liked to visit the old antique store before getting sucked into the whirlwind of unnecessary emails, long meetings and pointless discussions. The lamp looked weird and useless, yet he was drawn to it. He threw it in his bag with other pieces that had caught his eye, fought for a better price and won, and left the shop happy. 

Well, not really. 

Satisfied is a better word for it. He hadn’t felt happy in a long time.

The day went by acceptably fast, considering the fact that there was not a second he spent thinking about anything else other than the fact that he desperately didn’t want to be where he was. He came home, tired, and laid out all his treasures on the kitchen counter. Two candleholders, one vase, three small sculptures, and it. The lamp. It was dusty and old, but it was there. A fine addition to his rapidly growing collection. 

I know what you’re thinking. It can’t be that kind of a story. I haven’t come here to read that kind of a story. I thought the same when I wiped the lamp clean and received my three wishes. It can’t be. And yet, here we are. I have to tell this story because, like all tragedies, it has to be told.

No one can tell it but me.

I have watched many movies and talked with many people. Do you know what they all say when asked what they would do with their three wishes? 

What would you do?

I’d just ask for more. What’s up with all these morons? You can wish for anything, and you don’t think of this?

Sometimes, there are rules. Sometimes you can’t. 

But sometimes there aren’t.

“You have woken me up from my eternal sleep, and in my gratitude, I grant you three wishes. Use them wisely. I have seen men perish under the vastness of their greed. What kind of man will you be? What will you ask of me?” I heard, and since it is that kind of a story, my answer was simple.

“I want you to give me one thousand more wishes,” I said and smiled. 

He looked at me, surprised, considering. “Are you sure?”

“I am.”

Then he smiled, too.

“So be it.”

In those days, I thought I was smarter than everyone, in which I was just as stupid as those who I thought were beneath me – if not more. I did not know what happiness looked like, though I was certain I would be able to find it – if only I could do anything in the world. But when the time finally came, the world turned out to be cruel and indifferent, unlike anything I had ever imagined.

I cannot tell you how much money I spent, owed or owned. How much alcohol I have drunk, how many people I have slept with, how many things I have seen and done and had. I was the king of everything, and I felt like one. For a while, at least. That should count for something. 

I learned that it doesn’t. 

“Why won't you give me something real?! Why do you keep making me miserable? Why?! ”

“I am giving you everything you ask for. Anything you think of is yours. What exactly is not enough for you?”

“Everything! Everything is not enough! Nothing you do is how it's supposed to be!”

“These are your wishes, Daniel. I am doing everything you desire. What else do you want from me?”

He fell to his knees and cried. His broken voice echoed off the marble walls of his mansion. 

“Something. Please, just do something. I can't keep feeling like this. Please, I just want to be happy. I can't do this anymore. I can't.”

The Djinn waited, and all of time held its breath at his command. 

“Is that your wish?”

“What?” he whispered, his eyes red and swollen. He didn't look like a man with an entire world at his feet. He looked like a child, barely a speck of dust in the universe he laughed at when all of this had started.

“I asked if that was your wish. To be happy. Is it?”

He looked up at the Djinn, puzzled, angry even.

“Of course it is. What else was I asking for all this time?”

The Djinn sighed, and his voice left the room long after he disappeared.

“Everything but this, Daniel. I would know. Everything but this.”

In a couple of days, I lost all the things I had to lose. All my money. My properties, my lovers, all the people I had gathered to worship me and act at my smallest demand. My antiques, alcohol, cars. Everything. All of it. One day, I had them. The next, they were gone.

I came back to my parents, and their open arms stung me in ways I cannot begin to describe. In my selfishness, I had forgotten about them completely and had not even considered sharing one wish for them. The Djinn disappeared, and without him and no one to talk to about what had happened, the months I had experienced seemed like nothing more than a fever dream.

I had never been more lost than in the months that followed, and yet, I had never felt greater relief, either. I began to recover. Slowly. I found a job – not the same corporate one I had loathed ever since I first started – but a simpler one, as a barista in the local café. All sorts of people were coming in to drink coffee I was making with my own hands, and all of them were beautiful and so much more interesting than those I had wished to accompany me in my luscious life. I laughed more than I ever had and dreamed more, too. And when one day I thought that nothing could make me more happy than I was then, I met her.

And when I say my life had shifted since the Djinn left, and I drew it anew so beautifully I would never have needed anything else, it is true. But she painted it with colours so vibrant and sweet that I could not help but fall for her – immediately and entirely.

“What would you do if you could do anything?”

He laughed, and she laughed with him, but then he stopped and grew sad.

“What’s wrong, Dan?” She looked concerned, and she was, he realised that. It lingered between them for far too long, and the time to tell her had to come, eventually, even if it meant he could lose her forever. 

“It’s a long story, El. Are you sure you want to hear it?”

“What’s mine is yours, remember? It goes both ways. It always will.”

“It might not after I tell you.”

She put her hand on his cheek and kissed him.

“I’ll take it.”

Our life together was peaceful. Quiet. Comfortable. We moved in together soon after that conversation and decorated the flat with her flowers and my vases. Posters and paintings danced on our walls, changing places more than anyone could count. We had promised each other we would never wish for anything and kept our word. Everything we had, we had earned with our hands alone. After some time, Elise found out she was pregnant. We were both delighted, of course, and couldn’t contain our joy. My past had never returned to me, and I started to forget about it, day by day, month by month, until it was distant and unreachable, even in memories. 

A day came, sunny and warm, and with it, a sense of contentment. We lay together in a field, wrapped in each other's arms, and lacked nothing. Our basket was full of food, our thoughts filled with hope, gratefulness and stability. It was just the two of us then, but not for long, and so we cherished the day even more than we cared to admit. Who knew when we would have the chance to be just us again.

“I don’t want to go home,” she whispered against his chest, and he laughed.”

“I know what you mean, El. It’s so perfect out here. I wish we could stay here forever.”

A brief pause. The time held its breath again, but nothing happened. They both realised what could have been, but, at last, he was free.

Exhale.

“I know, Dan. Me too.”

I wish I could finish the story here, but I cannot. I am a prisoner of this narrative, not less than you are now. We are condemned to see its end together. 

They stayed there till the sun started nearing the horizon, then gathered their things and headed towards home. 

“We could watch a movie today... What do you think?” 

“Sounds perfect. What kind do you have in mind?”

“I thinkDan? Dan, where are you?”

“What do you mean, where am I? Elise?!”

“Dan, where are you?! What’s going on?! I can’t see you, where are you?! What happened?! Where are you?!”

He tried to reach her, but each time he did, an invisible wall rose up and kept him in his place. When panic almost took over him, she was there again, shaking, holding his body tight like he could disappear again any second.

“What happened, Dan?” she whispered when she calmed enough to get the words out. “You were gone. I know what I saw. You were right behind me, and then you weren’t. What happened?”

I wish we could stay here forever.

So innocent. So simple.

And yet–

I was silent for a long time, my brain filling with words I had tried to erase for what feels like centuries now.

“I have seen men perish under the vastness of their greed.”

I’m sure you have. I don’t care.

“Are you sure?”

I am.

I am.

I am.

“So be it.”

June 08, 2024 01:10

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99 comments

Joseph Hawke
18:32 Jun 14, 2024

Brilliant narrative voice and twist on an age old tale. Also like your use of Djinn, rather than Genie. Adds authenticity in my view. Congratulations on the win! 👍👍

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22:27 Jun 15, 2024

hey, thanks so much for reading! to be honest, i completely forgot that the word Genie even exists haha lucky accident, i suppose, i definitely prefer Djinn as well ;) thank you for the comment!

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Jim LaFleur
16:12 Jun 14, 2024

Your story is a delightful read that not only entertains, but also imparts valuable wisdom. Excellent job!

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22:25 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much! it really means a lot that you liked it <3

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David Sweet
18:13 Jun 14, 2024

Congrats on the win! It's always wise to be careful what we wish for.

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22:29 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much! couldn't agree more, i often have to remind myself that what i wish is not necessarily what's best for me... still not the easiest truth to accept but i'm getting there haha thanks for the comment <3

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Marty B
18:05 Jun 14, 2024

Not too many shorts break the 4th wall to talk directly to the readers. I thought you did it successfully, and brought me into the story. I would be just like Dan I fear, asking for material possessions until 'Everything is not enough!' One too many wishes! Congratulations- a well deserved win!

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22:35 Jun 15, 2024

i'm really glad you liked it! i love to experiment with my writing so i'm happy to hear that the 4th wall worked out in your opinion. very valuable to hear. i would want to say that i wouldn't be like Dan but to be honest, who knows? i've had my fair share of wanting a little too much a little too often... anyway, thanks for reading, it really means a lot <3

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Geneva Rioz
17:43 Jun 14, 2024

I loved the flow and how you pulled us into the story. :)

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22:35 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much! i'm really happy you liked it :)

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Alexis Araneta
16:18 Jun 14, 2024

Very interesting one, Maria. Great twist on this trope, I think. Lovely work !

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22:36 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much for the comment! i'm glad you liked it <3

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Mary Bendickson
16:16 Jun 14, 2024

Congrats on a well deserved win🥳. An insightful tale.

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22:37 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much <3

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TE Wetzel
16:15 Jun 14, 2024

Great story. Fantastic narrative flow. Congrats on the win!

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22:38 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much! i'm really happy you enjoyed it <3

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AnneMarie Miles
16:12 Jun 14, 2024

Congratulations on a well deserved win!! 🎉🙌🎈

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22:38 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much <3

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AnneMarie Miles
13:24 Jun 14, 2024

Oh, wow! I wasn't expecting that. Your writing was beautiful in a way where we followed you where you went, forgetting about the rules previously laid out, just like Dan. It's a great twist on a familiar story. Thanks for sharing!

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22:39 Jun 15, 2024

thank you so much for your comment! it really means the world to hear <3

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Susan Jenkins
02:50 Jun 22, 2024

Amazing.

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22:52 Jun 23, 2024

thank you!

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Wisdom Phiri
14:06 Jun 21, 2024

This is my first time to read a short story without being forced, and I loved it. Keep up the good work.

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22:53 Jun 23, 2024

wow, i'm so glad this story was a good experience for you! thank you for reading <3

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Darvico Ulmeli
18:14 Jun 20, 2024

Congrats on win. Love the story.

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22:53 Jun 23, 2024

thank you so much! glad you liked it :)

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Musa Mthombeni
22:33 Jun 19, 2024

Ohh wow what an explendid story. I have to say you are a marvelous writter , short , simple , though it leaves a complete message. Thank you .

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22:54 Jun 23, 2024

thank you so much! it really means the world to hear. thanks for reading and for the comment <3

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Hazel Guzman
22:28 Jun 19, 2024

I really liked how you spoke to the readers directly! You did a really good job writing your story! Keep up the hard work!

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22:54 Jun 23, 2024

thank you so much for the comment! i'm really happy you liked it <3

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Audrey Clark
04:06 Jun 19, 2024

This was an incredible story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was so well-crafted and planned that it flowed smoothly as well as kept me engaged the entire way through. Congrats on the win, this story definitely deserved it! Btw love the ending :)

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20:20 Jun 19, 2024

thank you so so much! it really means the world that you liked it :)

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02:32 Jun 19, 2024

That is the most beloved story i've ever read. Truly full of all kinds of knowledge and wisdom. It teaches people to not be greedy, and to not take more than what we already have. I loved the story, 10/10.

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20:21 Jun 19, 2024

whaaaat, that means so much to hear! i'm so happy you liked it <3

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Darren Hansen
23:33 Jun 18, 2024

Great work. The ending caught me off guard a bit. I had to go back and reread the last bit to make sure I had read what I thought I had read. A literary double-take!

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20:26 Jun 19, 2024

haha i'm glad you liked it! sometimes i wonder if the things i write are understandable enough to everyone else (i sit with the idea so much that stuff that to be are obvious can sometimes be confusing i guess), so i just hope you didn't mind rereading too much. thanks for the comment <3

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Lisa Spargo
16:25 Jun 18, 2024

Good story and the tragic twist at the end was heartbreaking. Congratulations.

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20:26 Jun 19, 2024

thank you so much! i'm glad you enjoyed it <3

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Danielle LeBlanc
12:39 Jun 18, 2024

Congrats on the win, Maria!! Deep lessons on this story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this!! <3

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20:27 Jun 19, 2024

thank you! it really means the world that you liked it <3

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