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American Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

Death - Car Accident. Minor Strong Language.


“An oasis is a small patch of vegetation surrounded by desert. Communities have traditionally planted strong trees, such as palms, around the perimeter of oases to keep the desert sands from their delicate crops and water.”


They were married in Vegas and were on their way to Hwy147 to get to Hwy167 to head to Moapa Valley. They stopped in Valley of State Park and then headed to the Lost City Museum of Archeology before reaching their final destination of the North Shore Inn at Lake Mead. 


The day began with a mild temperature of 100°. The weather just hung in the air. The dry arid heat was a welcome to the couple from an area in the country where two great lakes surrounded them with wet, humid air in their home state of Michigan. 


They set out on their journey from Vegas and vowed to go slowly and take everything in. They listened to Covers, particularly those from Lake Street Dive, as they travelled. The drive was going along fine when something flew out of the convertible and off into the desert. They were at the West end of Lake Mead before you got to the Larger basin bed. They decided this was as good as any spot to pull over and have some lunch. 


“Stacey, this is an awesome time in our lives. We just said, ‘I do to anything and everything that comes our way together. That is so cool. Thank you.”


“Well, just make sure you make it easy for me to handle, ok, Rob? You know me. I tend to want to bail at the first sign of trouble. I don't like that stupid talk that you just did there. I mean, are we trying to be cool here?”


“Yeah, but this commitment isn’t like that; this time, Stacey, it means we must work through it together.”


“I guess so, Rob.”


“OK, so let’s get out our picnic basket, shall we? Honestly. Geez, Stacey.”


As they hiked to the edge of Lake Mead, they discovered they could see the lake bed and the remains of some old cars, bed frames, bed springs, suitcases, trash and boats. Stacey’s curiosity peaked when she spotted some suitcases with shiny handles and wanted to better look at some of the cases she saw. She told Rob to set up the picnic blanket and that she wouldn’t be but a minute as she saw a suitcase with a bright shiny gold handle that was super tiny, it seemed the closest to where they were situated. 


She set out after it, and despite Rob calling her back, she kept going. As she got to the suitcase, she noticed it was impenetrable from the outside, which most likely meant the water had not ruined the contents. She was super excited and shrieked in delight as she picked it up. Rob looked in her direction to ensure she had not fallen. She rushed her steps as she was taken in by the beauty and lightness of the case with an overwhelming amount of genuine interest. 


He ran to meet her, realizing she was carrying something, and he too was now intrigued with its contents. Maybe someone dumped some cash from Vegas to come back and get later but couldn’t find it? He was dreaming of what could be when they met up. Stacey was reluctant to hand the suitcase over but eventually did because she didn’t know how to open it. Rob looked the case over and got out some of their hiking gear. Perhaps his Opinel No 9 Knife from his Cook Set would do the trick. 


He fetched it out and examined the case. He found that it, in fact, would do the trick. His first attempt cracked the case open. Inside they found a lamp.


“It looks like a genie lamp,” said Stacey.


“Let’s rub it together to see if a genie comes out!” she laughed. Then they both rubbed it, and lo and behold, a genie appeared.


He said, “I am a slave to you, but you are not getting three wishes here in your world. You must go into the desert of my world to make your wishes. Do you agree?”


Rob and Stacey looked at one another and decided it was worth a shot, so they said, “yes.” Immediately they were transported to the middle of the Sahara Desert. They found themselves in Seba Oasis “Seba Oasis, near Sabha, Libya, in the middle of the Sahara Desert. 


Instantly Stacey regretted her decision and began to bawl. Rob, on the other hand, remained further fascinated. He said to the genie.


“Now what? Are we supposed to find our way back by ourselves or what?”


“Well, now said the genie, that is a fascinating question, isn’t it? I guess you would have to confer with your partner and figure out what your game plan is. It seems to me that your initial choice was made in haste without too much forethought. Perhaps you will put a bit more effort into your next wish this time. I am not here to judge you; I am only here to grant your wishes. You two must figure out why you are here.”


Rob turned to Stacey and said, “let’s figure this out, shall we? The genie is correct, we need to have a game plan, or we will be stuck here forever.”


“No wonder that case was buried with that lamp inside it at the bottom of Lake Mead. They didn’t want anyone to find it. It must’ve caused someone extreme hardship for them to have buried it there,” Stacey remarked remorsefully.


“Well, that may be the case, but we must get into the present here and deal with today, Stacey. Let's not be totally dispirited just yet!” Robert was getting perturbed now that Stacey was being so pessimistic and not interested in working with him to find a solution. 


Of course, Rob knew he was the official optimist in the crowd, while Stacey was the opposite and sometimes a real downer. He needed her to tone it down and strategize with him now. He asked questions to the Genie.


“How far back in time are we? Or are we just geographically moved around the globe?”


The genie said nothing. Stacey chirped up and said, “well, what about time? Does time exist here? What time is it?”


The genie said, "it is twelve o’clock on Wednesday." But he neglected to tell them what year.


Rob suggested they make their way to the oasis now in their sights. Stacey agreed, and they started on their way. 


After about an hour and a half of travel, they were growing weary and had no clue as to how much further they would have to go to get to the oasis.


“Stacey, if you had to cut off your right arm or right foot to save us, which would you give?”


“What? What kind of a question is that? To save us from what? Robert, what the fuck? Are you going to sacrifice me for you? Honestly Rob! What goes through your head sometimes?”


“No, I just wanted to know what you were prepared to do to secure our safety, is all!

I would be prepared to cut off whatever I needed to secure our future and return to our lives at Lake Mead. That’s how much I love you! I will love you for as long as we live!”


“Don’t talk to me about love. I know what love is, Mister! I knew the moment we saw one another that we would be married. I knew I wanted to love you. You are a good and honest man. What more do I need to say?”


“But honey, that doesn’t mean you love someone. I know I loved you because you have little quirks that others might find annoying, but I think they are cute and make you unique. That’s the kind of love I’m talking about - don’t you feel any of that towards me? Ever? Like I'm the one you want to grow old with and die with?”


“Well, I’ll have to think about that. But tell me, what do we do when we get to the oasis? Like, do other people live there? Or will other people be there? Will they be dangerous? Are we going to be facing any danger, Rob?”


“Oh my God, you change the subject now and are talking about what you originally didn’t want to talk about because you no longer want to talk about us. Wow! Thanks for that, Stacey!” 


“Why do you always look for something to fight about over nothing, Rob? Geez. We have a serious issue here in front of us. The sun is at its highest, and here we are with barely any water left and no idea how far we are away from that oasis.”


“Right, so let’s keep walking and reserve ourselves for necessary conversation now.”


They trudged on in silence for about an hour and then began sweating. They were experiencing dehydration. Neither of them looked great now, but they were dutifully struggling forward. 


They were about to lay down in defeat and, just by the grace of God, made it to the oasis. They found shelter and water. But what most amazed them was the number of couples from all over the globe who were perfectly content to just be there.


Rob and Stacey made their way to the poolside to see what, if anything, they could derive from the others who were poolside. Initially, they got the cold shoulder.


Then Ashraf and Ali came along and said, “you two are new here, huh? You look like it, you know, deer in the headlights thing. Just don’t sweat it. You’re safe now.”


“Safe from what?” they asked together. “Well, from the sun out there, out there in the desert. That shit can kill ya. Fast!” answered Ali.


“Yeah, we were getting weary after the last couple of hours,” said Stacey. 


“Well, honey, don’t worry, now you are in paradise forever!” said Ashraf. “Yeah, it takes no time to get used to,” said Ali.


“We don’t want to stay here. We want to get back to where we came from!” insisted Rob. “Yeah, we aren’t staying,” said Stacey.


“Ah well. Maybe your genie is different than ours. But I heard that no matter what, your genie gets you in the end. So you may as well stay here.” said Ali.


“What do you mean, gets you? Asked Rob.


“I’m not sure Ali knows what he is talking about. Guys, don’t listen to him. Nobody has us here. We are choosing to stay because the weather is always the same, and we have a lot of fun every day.” Ashraf sounded now like she was trying to convince herself more than she was trying to tell Rob and Stacey about the great setup they had going on.


“Well, it doesn’t look that bad. I guess we don’t have anywhere to be so we can stay, right Rob?” Stacey was hopeful about meeting new friends.


"Sure, babe, that sounds great to me!” said Rob. 


At night Rob and Stacey were shown to a super plush pillow bed with a nice Arabian breeze and provided blankets as the desert night can be cold. They snuggled and found they fell into a deeply profound sleep. They seemed to share the same dream – getting out of the oasis as fast as possible. The next day they didn’t speak about their dream as they realized that their dreams were the only way and time they could communicate without anyone hearing what they were talking about. They couldn’t wait to hit the sack again tonight - they had a lot of stuff to talk about.


After dinner, everyone was sitting by the pool awaiting dessert when a gust of wind came through the centre of the oasis.


Ashraf said, “someone is going to cause a change in the oasis soon; I hope it’s not you two. We like you both, and you seem to fit in here all too well.”


“Why would it be us?” asked Stacey playing dumb.


“Well,” said Ali, “you and three new couples arrived within the same time, so it bodes well that it is one of the four of you couples.”


“Yes,” Ashraf chimed in, “newbies always think they can cheat the system, not realizing that the system always wins in the end.”


Dessert now done, Stacey and Robert waited until they saw other couples heading off to their bedrooms before heading towards theirs. 


Suddenly, Stacey said, “let’s rub the genie and ask to return to our Lake Mead picnic. I’ve had enough of this place; what about you?”


“Yes! Me too! But are you sure we can do that?”


“I have no idea Rob, but I know one thing; if we stay at the oasis, we can feel like we died before we get out. So we have nothing to lose.”


“I’m in,” said Rob. 


They rubbed the genie lamp, and out he came. They said, “we wish to be transported back to the place in time where we had just found the case with the genie lamp at the base of the west part of Lake Mead.” And just like that, they were zapped back to where the entire mess began.


Rob looked at Stacey, and Stacey looked at Rob – they embraced. It was magical. They truly knew the meaning of love. It was an entirely different embrace now than any other they had ever shared. They worked together to get out of a dilemma as a team.


She turned to him and said, “Rob, I will love you for as long as we live.” Rob’s heart melted. He began to cry, overwhelmed with emotion. She said how sorry she was that she said she loved him because he was a good man and honest. Now she told of a love that was unique and overreaching so that she loved through him and in him as she felt truly a part of him. They kept the genie in the bottle in the suitcase with them and had their lunch.


As they drove away from Lake Mead, they discussed possibilities for who could have owned the case before them and how it ended up in the lake. They concluded that whoever had it prior did not know what they had, and they let it go without learning how to work with what they had; the biggest mistake of their lives: Then buried it in Lake Mead so no one else would go through the same hardship. 


It was just Rob and Stacey’s fortune that they had found it at just the right moment in their lives to make all the difference to them and their relationship.  


When they arrived at their destination, they found that the hotel had bumped them into the honeymoon suite at no extra charge since the room was vacant and they had a “just married” sign on their convertible. The hotel owners were friendly and accommodating. They sat and visited with the couple while they ate their dinner. As Rob and Stacey were turning in for the night, the man at the hotel asked them what was in the suitcase that Stacey always carried with her, and she replied,


“It’s my genie in the bottle. You can have him if I finish with him before I leave.” Rob gave Stacey a stern look, but they managed to leave friendly enough. 


When they returned to the room, Rob said, “Stacey honey, why did you tell them what was in the case?”


“Well, I didn’t want to lie to them; they were so kind to us and all,” she replied.


“Why? Do you think that they will steal the case?”


“They might,” said Robert.


“I guess that is the chance we will have to take?” That night Stacey fell asleep with the genie lamp under her pillow. She left the case visible to anyone who entered the room in the outside seating area from the bedroom area. When they awoke in the morning, the case was gone. Robert was right. The owners were after the genie lamp. They must have recognized the case somehow.


At breakfast that morning, Robert told the man, “we need to check out as my mom is ill, and we have to get back unexpectedly.” The man looked surprised but said that he understood. He asked Robert if he had a minute. He showed Robert an old note that one of his ancestors wrote about the genie lamp. He told Robert that the genie lamp was a curse and that Robert and Stacey should let the man take it back to Lake Mead.


Robert laughed, saying, "we're responsible and know how to use the lamp, but thanks anyway." The man gave the case back to Robert to store the lamp. There were no hard feelings, and Rob thanked him.


Before they left, the man asked Robert to put the hotel’s address on the suitcase just in case Robert changed his mind and wanted to send the genie lamp back one day. Robert and Stacey appeased the old man and left. 


On their way home, they were two days earlier than they should have been on Hwy 15 that led into Hwy 70 into Colorado – it just so happened they were hit head-on by a load of steel heading south. They were killed instantly.


Some of the only things that were not destroyed in the crash were their camping gear and the case with the genie’s lamp. The police officer attending saw the address on the case and sent both items along to the North Shore Inn at Lake Mead. 


When the old man received the case and the camping gear, he said a little prayer for the couple and then he began to change the photos on the wall to look like Stacey and Robert, who had just passed. Then he went to the deepest part of Lake Mead and dropped the case with an anchor, hoping nobody would find it for another hundred years.     


August 19, 2022 16:31

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4 comments

Lily Finch
16:21 Aug 27, 2022

Thanks for your feedback Keila. I will try to improve that for the next story. I am glad that you at least enjoyed the story and that it was interesting and creative for you. Thank you again for your input. I appreciate that kind of feedback as I try to improve my writing. LF6

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Keila Aartila
16:09 Aug 27, 2022

I found this story interesting and creative, although too much of the detail felt extraneous - it didn't add to the actual story. The story itself kept me reading through to find out the ending.

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Michał Przywara
00:20 Aug 24, 2022

Holy, there is a *lot* of story here. The opening premise, of two people finding a mysterious suitcase while picnicking, is a great setup. That it has an actual genie lamp in it is a big twist, and now the story takes us to an actual desert. It's here that the couple learn to really rely on each other, and how their love develops into something more than superficial. It might have been nice to stress this a bit more, by maybe having them snap more at each other in the beginning. Then they wish themselves back home, and life seems to be go...

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Lily Finch
02:33 Aug 24, 2022

Michael, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really need the feedback on these stories. I missed the - one too many "it" and "lo" thanks for that. I never knew that new dialogue should always be new lines, so thank you. Noted. :) The genie lamp was under Stacey's pillow, but the innkeeper stole the suitcase because he thought the lamp was in there. Stacey married for the wrong reasons initially, not both of them. The genie was a bugger of a genie. He let them wish knowing the end. And he knew their fate when they opened the suitcase at...

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