Box of Dubious Delights

“It’s ugly here,” the little boy in the thrift-store flannel jacket whines. He walks ten feet in front kicking at brown scrub.

He isn’t wrong the boy’s Dad notes, but in the tradition of long fought wars of fathers never admitting defeat this progenitor will not concede the battle either.

“Maybe there is beauty in what it is?” the father tries halfheartedly. They just broke down on the side of the interstate and Melvin knows they wouldn’t even be here if he had made better life choices. Finished college, gone to law school, worked harder, made more of a fuss about the lump.

But no, now he was a guy who lost his job boxing erasers, because as his shift manager said, “people don’t write stuff down anymore.”

So, back to his parents home they go.

The joy of failure.

“It could be worse, we could be all rusty and worn out like this old box.”

The box was half buried in the brown grass. Maybe it was blue once, It had a handle that looked as if it were barely keeping the lid closed and wouldn’t move if an attempt were made.

The boy turns to look and slowly doubles back, curious.

“What do you think’s inside?”

“A new life,” Melvin mumbles, but the boy looks at him in his sad little way and the father smiles as if he were joking. Hurting his boy feels like losing his wife all over again.

“Can I open it?”

“If you can.”

The handle twists easily and the lid pops open. Expecting an empty box, or one with a fifty-year-old lunch inside, the explosion of blue smoke is startling.

“Yes, my master,” the Jinn says to the boy and Melvin knows it will be two for one on wishes today.

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