Janina And The Genie

Posted on April 11, 2015
On a glorious sunny day on the beaches of San Juan, eleven-year-old Janina goes fishing for treasure. With her cracked red bucket in one hand and a folded piece of fishing net in another, she walks to the edge of the resort limits and wades into the water until she is knee deep in Caribbean waves. She pulls out her fishing net, wired around two re-purposed broomsticks, and starts combing the ocean in search of lost tourist possessions. 

Every day she finds something different. Yesterday, a gold Rolex appeared in her net, along with designer sunglasses and wide bangles with gems wedged into one side, all which fetched her a good price with a buyer in her neighborhood. The day before she found a leather wallet, and, although the seawater ruined the material, Janina was able to sell it to a leather dealer. On average, she makes enough money to buy three meals a day for her and her father, and occasionally some new clothing.

Today, however, she catches what she believes to be a teapot made of bronze. The snout is long and curved out like a downward flowing wave. The handle is in the shape of a large ear, with a ruby at the base where the ear drum would be. Janina flips it upside down and over to see if there is anything inside. She finds nothing.

She places the lid back on top and begins to wipe off the seawater. As she rubs the side of the teapot, purple smoke snakes out from the snout. She drops the teapot onto the sand and steps back as the purple smoke grows and transforms into a woman wearing a white silk wrap around her body with a golden belt fastened around her waist. Her long, onyx, curly hair frames her pale face, and her violet eyes glimmer in the sun's rays. With bare feet, the woman steps closer to Janina and examines her with narrowed eyes. "Did you release me from my lamp?"

Janina nods quickly. "Are you Evelina the genie?"

The genie hooks her hands at her hips and leans to one side, smiling at Janina's recognition. "Evelina at your service, Lady Janina. Because you freed me from my prison, I will grant you one wish."

Gasping, Janina takes a step closer to Evelina. "Really?"

"Really."

"Anything I'd like?" 

"Anything at all."

With her hands twisting the fishing net into knots, Janina thinks about the possibilities. She's heard tales of the Caribbean genie granting wishes to poor children, making them richer than the richest men on the island, giving them all they desire. She recalls how a friend of a friend of a friend saw Evelina grant another friend enough money to buy a house on the beach. Janina is both nervous and excited about this opportunity. 

But there is one thing Janina wants more than all else. "Well," Janina says, lowering her eyes and digging a hole in the sand with her big toe, "my mother died three years ago and my father has been so depressed that he can't hold a steady job. He really loved my mother. He used to be funny, and he used to take me and  my mother in his canoe, but since my mother died he's been too sad to do anything but sit at the window and stare out at the sea. He cries every night when the sun sets." Janina raises her eyes at Evelina. "I hate seeing him so sad. Can you make him happy again? Please?" 

Evelina lifted her head, raised her arms high and closed her eyes. She whispered words Janina did not understand, and then lowered her arms back down to her sides. "Your father will no longer suffer. He will be happy again."

With slow, graceful arm movements, Evelina dances around her lamp twice and then picks it up in her arms. After a glance at Janina, and a knowing smile, she runs towards the sea and soon disappears in the ocean's crashing waves. 

Evelina looks around the beach and finds it devoid of life. Not a single person witnessed the event. Not a seagull or a turtle, not even a tourist from the nearby resort. Everything feels the same. Nothing has changed. Janina shakes her head, gathers her net and bucket, and begins her lonely trek home. 

When she arrives at her front porch, the smell of meat cooking on a cast iron skillet invades her senses. Laughter from the kitchen, a sound she hasn't heard in years, makes her heart beat fast. She bursts through the front doors and finds her mother cooking dinner at the stove. 

"We've been waiting for you Janina," her father says. "Your mother just said the funniest thing..."

Before she can blink, Janina runs to her mother and wraps her arms around her waist as tight as she can and begins sobbing. "I thought I'd never see you again, Mami."

"Oh, Janina. I told you I'd be right back."

"But the bus... it went off the bridge... and you..."

"What are you talking about?"

Janina sobbed and sobbed and decided not to ask any more questions. However, whatever, Evelina did to get her mother back, she was grateful and happy. 

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Katie! You asked, so you shall receive. A new character each day this month. :-)

      Delete