I unlocked the door and eased it open, tucking myself against the door and peering through the widening gap. No one in the kitchen. In the living room . . . the orange-haired man lounged on the couch. He was still shirtless, other than the open vest. I sighed and came all the way in.
“You’re here,” I said flatly. Maybe I should do that hallucination research tonight.
He snuggled deeper into the couch, as though to prove he was, indeed, there. “I don’t disappear by you telling me to. Now, if you had wished I wouldn’t be here when you returned, I wouldn’t still be sitting here. I would be around, but not here at this moment.”
“Wished?” I repeated.
“Wished,” he echoed, rising into the air and crossing his legs.
My heart jumped into my throat. He was doing things he shouldn’t be able to do again.
“I’m a genie.” He bowed from his sitting position, flourishing his arms to the side. “At your service and all that.”
“I don’t want a genie.” The words popped out of my mouth. They should have been, Genies aren’t real, but that seemed silly to say at this point. Was it crazier to believe genies might be real or to believe there was a rational explanation for the things I’d seen today?
Still floating, he uncrossed his legs, placing his hands on his hips. “Do you know what a genie is?” he demanded. “What we do?”
I waved one hand vaguely in the air, wondering if I should switch my research from stress-induced hallucinations to genies. Would the information be accurate? Did other people know genies were real? Someone had to. Unless genies erased memories after they left a person. “You grant wishes. Three of them.”
“Three?” He scoffed and shook his head. “You don’t understand. That’s why you think you don’t want a genie.”
“No,” I interrupted before he could continue. “I don’t want wishes, and I don’t want a genie. How do I get rid of you? Can I take you back to the park?” I cursed myself for being so enthralled with the stupid gem. Weren’t genies supposed to be in lamps? But if the three wishes thing was a lie, who knew what else was?
He floated backward until he almost hit the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. “I think you’ve had a long day and need rest. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
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