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A Genie in a Jam

by Oonah V. Joslin

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DJ, an irresponsible young Djinn, wants to be a Genie. Despite the opposition of Obsidian, his old teacher, he persuades the Elders to allow him to take a position with a company selling jam.

DJ finds it’s no easy thing granting wishes, but humans and their vices fascinate him. Naively he blunders from job to job until at last he is called upon to answer some serious accusations. He faces a sentence of hard labour or worse. Just when things seem blackest, DJ realises how sweet life can be.

Genie, by Jerry Wright

Chapter 11: Blossoms

DJ felt quite himself again after the weekend. ‘I think it’s just the dimensional shifting taking it out of me, you know, Geoffrey,’ he said as he tried his mission T-shirt.

‘Stands to reason when you’re not used to it, Deej. There now, that’s a perfect fit.’

It was not red, as he’d expected for cherry and rose petal, but white. At last a shirt that would go with his Nikes and yellow socks. He looked in the mirror. ‘I’m not dressing in this,’ he screeched. ‘This is a girl’s T-shirt.’

It was too humiliating. Along with the usual logo was a silkscreen image of a cherry tree in blossom and a single pink rose nestling beneath its branches. ‘You’re trying to make me a laughingstock,’ he complained.

Geoffrey resisted the obvious rejoinder. ‘You’ll have to take that up with the management, Deej,’ came the reply, ‘I’m not guilty this time. They held a competition for the launch of the Exotics line and this won. You think I’m pleased about that? My designs not good enough all of a sudden and some novice gets to do the latest jam. Still, I wouldn’t play hard to get if I were you.’

DJ wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean, but clearly there was no point in complaining to Geoffrey. He flounced about a bit, muttering under his breath, pulling the shirt up and down, wrinkling it up to try to make the image less prominent, all the time checking out this latest disaster in the mirror. It was no good. He might as well get it over with. He’d have to put up with it until the initial contract was up — then he was going to insist on a change of image or he was out.

* * *

DJ closed his eyes and concentrated hard, locating and focusing on a new jar of Cherry and Rose Petal Conserve just about to be opened. He had an exceptionally strong impression of it this time. The pop of the seal, the undisturbed smooth surface, the fresh, sweet smell of cherry mingled with just a hint of rose petals like the scent of a perpetual summer and the sprig of cherry blossom featured on the label. He was quite transported.

‘Grrreetings!’ DJ said as he popped into being close up to a face. And what a pretty face! Her almond eyes shone like tiger stones, brown and amber. Her skin was pale as alabaster, flawless as marble, smooth as porcelain, without a line. Her lips were painted a delicate rose and her hair flowed down like a river of jet over one shoulder. She was lithe and delicate as a blossom.

Startled by his sudden appearance, the young woman uttered a little squeal and put the jar on the table. DJ wanted to say something; something very intelligent or complimentary. Instead he stood blushing and tongue-tied, feeling extremely foolish, fidgeting with his hands and feeling more flickery than anything he’d ever imagined. She reminded him of someone...

Ohayo gozaimasu,’ she said and bowed.

‘Oh... ehem, hi’ya to you too,’ he spluttered. ‘I mean, greetings... that is... hello.’

She laughed and it sounded to him like the crackling of a million small sparklers. It was most attractive.

‘I’m sorry if I frightened you,’ he said.

‘I am not afraid.’

‘I’m a...’

‘I know what you are. You are a genie, yes? You grant wishes.’

‘Yes,’ said DJ — a believer, at last! Then feeling an unaccustomed need for honesty, he added, ‘but only in a small way.’

She wrapped her silk kimono closer, kneeled down and gave him her full attention.

‘I mean I can’t do big stuff like world peace or life, death and happiness. I can do money and possessions and... and... beauty...’ He was so enraptured by hers that he lost the thread of what he was saying and it just sort of fizzled out.

‘I’m sure you make lots of people happy.’

There was something ephemeral about her. She reminded him of Her Eminence Jade.

‘You look like one of my favourite actors,’ she said comparing him with a poster of Johnny Depp.

DJ blushed so hard, his ears burned with little bluish flames at the tips.

‘What is your name?’ she continued.

He was just about to say, ‘I am the Genie of the Jam,’ but he heard himself say ‘DJ’ instead.

‘I am Sakura.’ She bowed. DJ couldn’t remember whether he’d bowed or not and so he bowed anyway and then she bowed again. ‘Well, DJ can I offer you some tea?’

‘I would like that very much, Sakura,’ he lied, and sat cross-legged on the floor. He was sure he could endure tea just this once.

‘And perhaps some water for your ears?’

He was embarrassed that she’d noticed his ears were burning, but just a little pleased that she was looking that hard. She’d surely know the reason...

She brought some water and a natural sponge in an ornate little bowl. Then as she handed him the tea their fingers touched. DJ was so excited he was in danger of bursting into flame so he sponged his head a bit and tried to calm down.

He watched her spread cherry conserve onto a delicate round biscuit and she licked her finger. It was so artless and unstudied — not at all like Carlena, he thought. DJ had tasted all of the other jams before but this was truly a piece of paradise and the biscuit was flavoured with...

‘Orange water,’ said Sakura, just as if she’d read his thought.

‘Delicious,’ he said.

‘I made them myself.’

He looked around her neat apartment. She had made it look as much like a Japanese home as she could. It was uncluttered and elegant.

‘You have a very nice place,’ he said. She seemed young to be alone.

‘Thank you, I have never had a visitor before,’ said Sakura. ‘I have not been here long.’

‘Do you still get homesick?’ Even DJ sometimes felt homesick when he was away from Djinn for too long, a contingency he’d never planned for but now recognized often in others.

‘You are very perceptive. I do miss my family. I sometimes wish...’

‘Be careful what you wish for,’ he intervened. ‘I have not the power to undo the past or make the future and I don’t want to disappoint you,’ he said. This unaccustomed humility surprised even him.

‘I was only about to suggest that perhaps we could be friends and you might visit me from time to time. It would be pleasant to have a friend.’

‘But that is not a wish — just a suggestion, right?’ emphasized DJ.

‘Of course if you’d rather not...’

‘No, no, it would be a pleasure. I could visit once a week and then I’d be here if you really needed to wish for something.’

‘Yes, I see. That would be nice. And I could make you tea.’

DJ decided he could live with it...

‘And you could be here when the cherry tree blooms outside my window for the festival in spring?’ She looked wistfully out at the bare branches.

‘I could be,’ said DJ.

They looked straight into each other’s eyes and DJ could feel sparks between them, sweet little sparks, he thought, their little sparks, and he looked quickly away. This was playing with fire on the grand scale — even for a Djinn. What if Obsidian found out he was consorting in this fashion — using his position as a Genie to... to...? DJ didn’t quite know what he was doing but it was bound to be wrong. It would be the gem mines for him, at any rate.

Sakura began to examine the design on DJ’s T-shirt. ‘This reminds me of spring at my grandmother’s house beneath Mount Fuji during the cherry blossom festival. You’d love it there, DJ. You like my cherry blossom design too, don’t you, DJ?’ said Sakura lightly touching the image on his shirt. She might as well have plucked his heart right out of his chest.

‘This is your design?’ he asked. He looked again into her deep eyes, observed the satin of her lips, the flow of her hair...

To hell with Obsidian! ‘I do,’ he said, ‘I do.’

Copyright © 2010 by Oonah V. Joslin

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