Shelly wasn’t sure how long the patch of dandelions had been in the front corner of the lawn. They were probably there when they moved into the house years ago. She’d had too much to do to worry about them before now. They were green and so they mostly blended in with the rest of the lawn anyway.
But today, she’d started folding laundry while waiting for her egg to cook. Not only did the egg burn, but her plastic spatula had melted too. The house smelled terrible. Shelly left pan in the sink and the windows open and went outside. She’d finish folding the load of laundry later.
Outside, there were branches to gather and stack up and leaves to start raking and her car needed to be washed. But, just when she’d pulled out the rake and the hose and a bucket, she’d seen the dandelions and knew that now was the best time to pull them out.
She left the tools next to a small pile of branches and got to work. The roots held fast to the dirt and refused to budge. Shelly found a shovel and started to dig. And then, the shovel made a clicking sound.
Shelly brushed aside the dirt. It was an old glass bottle. It looked like an old-fashioned soda bottle. It was dirty, but not broken or even chipped. Shelly left the shovel next to the half-dug-up dandelions and took the bottle inside.
The house still smelled terrible. But, it wasn’t as bad. Shelly decided to light a scented candle. She left it in the middle of the bathtub, just in case she forgot to blow it out. She remembered the bottle and found it next to the front door. She took it back to the bathroom and started to wash it in the sink.
She had just started to scrub off the dirt, when a genie appeared. “What do you wish for?” the genie asked.
“Just a moment,” Shelly said. “I’m busy.”
“You could wish for all your chores to be done,” the genie said.
Shelly laughed. “That’s silly. They’ll never all be done. It’s not possible.”
“I could do it,” the genie said.
“That would only happen if my family stopped eating or wearing clothes and the grass and trees stopped growing and the seasons didn’t change. If I have no more chores, either I’m dead or everything else is. I don’t wish for that at all,” Shelly said.
“You’re smarter than you look,” the genie said.
“That’s not really a compliment,” Shelly said. She finished washing the bottle and started drying it with a towel.
“You could wish to be more organized,” the genie said.
“I’m working on it,” Shelly said.
“I could help,” the genie said.
“Thank you, but no,” Shelly said. “I just wish there were more hours in the day.” She looked up from the bottle, eyes wide. “No, wait. I didn’t mean that.”
“Too late,” the genie said. He snapped his fingers. The house shook and the toothbrushes and soap and lotion and hair dryer all fell on the floor. Then the power went out. The bathroom was lit only by the glow of the little scented candle in the bathtub.
“What did you do?” Shelly asked.
“A meteor hit the earth and stopped its rotation. You can have as many hours in the day as you want now,” the genie said. “You’re welcome.”
“That’s terrible. Everyone on earth will either bake or freeze,” Shelly said.
“Well, actually there is a small number of people living on the line in-between,” the genie said. “They’ll be fine.”
“Undo that wish,” Shelly said.
“Is that a wish?” the genie asked.
“Yes,” Shelly said.
The genie snapped his fingers. The power went back on. Everything that fell on the floor was back in place. “You have one more wish,” he said.
“No,” Shelly said. She took the bottle and marched outside.
“Are you going to bury my bottle?” the genie asked. “Please don’t bury it. It’s so boring being stuck in the dirt.”
“I’m not going to bury your bottle,” Shelly said. She picked some of the dandelions and shoved them into the top of the bottle. “There, now your bottle is useful.”
Shelly set the bottle in the middle of her cluttered counter. She started to scrape the burnt egg and melted spatula into the garbage. The genie hovered nearby. “You could wish for that pan to be clean,” he said.
“What happens when I’ve made my third wish?” Shelly asked.
“My bottle disappears and moves to a random location,” the genie said. “It’s nice, because I like to travel.”
“And if that wish somehow goes wrong, I’m left with the consequences, right?” Shelly said.
“Yes,” the genie said. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
“Maybe. And maybe you’ll trick the next person into destroying the earth. What happens if I wish you free from the bottle?” Shelly asked.
“Doesn’t work,” the genie said. “I don’t want to be free. I like to be a genie.”
“And if I break the bottle?” Shelly asked.
“Doesn’t work,” the genie said.
“And if I wish that you can’t grant wishes?”
“Doesn’t work,” the genie said.
“Then your bottle is a vase,” Shelly said.
“You’ll wish for something eventually,” the genie said.
“You’re probably right,” Shelly said. She put the pan back in the sink and started to fold the laundry while she thought about what to do. “I wish for you to have a conscience and know good from bad, and to want to do good,” she finally said.
The genie scowled and snapped his fingers. He and his bottle disappeared. “I hope that worked,” Shelly said. She finished folding the laundry.