Mark Polanzak

The genie is still floating there. His translucent red manlike naked torso tapers down to the lip of the bronze lamp’s spout. He’s enormous. He has had his neck crooked the whole time he’s been out, his head pinned to the four by fours on the basement’s ceiling. He pushes down with giant wispy red hands from time to time to bend his head back and forth, side to side, around and around, but then when he lets go, he floats right back up and has to crane his neck again.

I am sitting on the bottom step, smoking a cigarette and carefully tapping ashes through the mouth of the empty Miller can as if needing to keep the basement floor clean. The genie pushes down, stretches his neck, lets himself back up. I exhale and watch for the line of smoke to break when it reaches the genie’s wispy see-through form. He can be touched. He can feel.

I haven’t made any wishes yet. It’s been three days since I released him. He is not a kind being. He is not a vengeful being either. He is just a being who appears, sometimes, to be upset. I know he doesn’t like his head hitting the ceiling. He wouldn’t stretch if it didn’t matter. So, when he’s looking down from up there, he looks like he’s in discomfort. But he’s never asked to be moved. He’s never said a word about it. Although I know the lamp is now too heavy for me to budge, I could maybe think of some way to help. I haven’t dedicated any part of my brain to a solution, though.

“Are you uncomfortable?” I finally ask.

“I am fine.”

His voice is so deep that you feel it in your chest. It comes with a force that is startling, scary even. But the frequencies vibrate your muscles in a calming way. He is very loud. Each syllable takes him one full breath, so he speaks slowly. i and so but too as well