GENIE

You are mad with loneliness.

Your world is only this small island, barren, white sand, scarcely a tree, the very few objects of interest you’ve explored and examined and considered countless times.

You know you could go crazy here. You fear this. You wonder sometimes if it’s too late to halt, or if it’s already happened.

You can just hear and nearly see the people on the nearby island. They seem happy. Can they not see you? You wish you could reach them. There must be a way! You shout! Can they not hear you? Do they not care? Why don’t they come?

You are so lonely. The loneliness hurts, an actual physical pain so numbing you can no longer cry from it.

Could you kill yourself, you wonder?

And what then?

A genie appears.

You don’t ask why.

It is life! Here, on the island!

You rush to the bottle, staring at it, feeling it, your heart pounding. Truly, it is gorgeous, constructed of purple glass, its mysterious, elegant form appears to be from a different age, possibly a different world, the entirety of its being conveying magic.

No, you think. Not magic. Potential. To the one chosen.

You are so chosen!

What can you do with this, you wonder? At the very least, be saved. Saved from this barren world.

You are mad with joy.

You are found. Rescued!

You try desperately to open the bottle.

The genie is desperately waving his hands.

He is speaking.

You strain to hear, staring in at him intently.

He writes what he is saying on a large, for him, piece of paper.

Do not open the bottle yet.

Why, you shout? WHY! You are mad with loneliness. You want him, you want his magic, you want to be not here. You struggle to open it.

Do not open the bottle until you have read what I have to say.

You look behind you, making sure you are still in this empty, barren world and that you have not actually gone crazy. You return your gaze to the glorious trapped genie.

Before you open the bottle and release me, you must understand the rules.

Anything, you shout! Anything!

You mean it, too. Anything.

If you let me out, I will grant your deepest yearning. And that yearning is to end the loneliness, to escape this tiny barren island world.

You twist the stopper. You feel it turn.

Wait!

I will grant your deepest yearning, but…

Yes, yes?

…all those people over there, just right across the water, on that happy island?

Yes, yes?

They will die. Unleashing me will kill them. Do you understand?

Yes!

You open the bottle. The genie emerges, smiling. You weep, joyful. Found. Saved. No longer alone.

And those people on the island, the island just out of reach, the island that perhaps you could have ventured to had only you been a bit more brave, resourceful, less fearful, less empty inside, the people on that island immediately fall to the ground, dead.

You stare into the genie’s eyes.

Thank you for saving me.