I don’t know what to wish for. I keep leaving the basement to make meals in the kitchen. I pace on the back porch of my childhood home, smoke cigarettes, and stare out to the woods, down to the grass, up to the sky. Day and night. I think about all the times I’ve made wishes. It was easy in the past, because they wouldn’t come true. I didn’t truly believe, so it was always possible to think of something. Eyes closed before the faint warm glow of birthday cake candles. Always a throwaway wish before blowing an eyelash or tossing a penny into a fountain. A shooting star. In those split seconds I was able to think of precisely what I wanted. Because I knew what I wanted couldn’t possibly come true.
Now, I am coming up empty. I think of benevolent wishes, selfless wishes. I go down and ask the genie if they are in his power. They are not. Peace on earth he cannot do. Ending poverty. Eradicating diseases. Feeding all the hungry. These are impossible for him. My wish has to happen to me. I think of clever ways to achieve these grand wishes, try to find loopholes. But he cannot grant me the power to create peace on earth. He cannot give me more food than only I could want. He cannot give me willpower.
So I sit on the porch and look at the night sky and drink cans of Miller, thinking about the perfect wishes. Three things I won’t ever regret. There is an opportunity here that is impossible to miss and impossible to take. I go down to experience the genie’s great spinning black eyes and enormous translucent red form and thunderclap of syllables. I lie awake in my childhood bedroom where I used to do so much wishing, for toys, for superpowers, for bicycles, for A’s on report cards, for making sports teams, for winning, for girls, for acceptance. I watch TV. I read books. I clean out the other rooms of this house. I replace light bulbs. I go down and stare at him, sometimes with a wish on the