At our meetings, we often do 5-minute exercises using 3-5 words to create a short-short story. Sometimes, those stories are continuous from exercise to exercise. Here’s one of those from JM PAQUETTE!
• Graham cracker
I looked down at my hands, then back up at the djinni. “Are you sure?” I asked it.
The creature nodded sagely, gesturing to my hands, “You must choose your reward for freeing me,” it repeated.
“What about my three wishes?” I asked.
“Wishes?” it repeated, clearly confused.
“Yeah,” I pointed at the newly shined lamp sitting on the counter in front of me. “That’s the deal with a djinni. I rub the lamp; I get the wishes. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with either of these.”
I looked down at my hands: my right held what appeared to be an ancient bookmark, the material glorious against my skin, and lovely with scroll work, but still just a scrap of fabric.
My left land held a stack of three perfectly shaped graham crackers, the bottom now feeling a bit limp as it absorbed the sweat from my palm.
“I offer you wondrous treasures,” the djinni explained. “So great that you cannot have both. You must decide which you will have.”
“Crackers and a place to mark my page?” I asked. “I don’t know what kind of world you’re from, but I can get crackers from my cabinet right now, three different varieties, and I have bookmarks stashed in every book I own.”
“They are not merely food and markers,” it snapped, looking annoyed. “Clearly, the old tales have faded during my time away.” A ghostly hand gestured to the bookmark. “That marks the page of any book you wish to read in the world.”
“Like any book?”
The djinni nodded. “Is there a book in the world or the history of the world you’d like to read? Think of it, and that so-called scrap of material will bring it to you for as long as you wish.” I held it more carefully in my hand after that.
“And these?” I looked at the crackers.
“The finest food to be found in the world,” the djinni declared. “Think of it, and it shall be yours.”
I took a sip of my tea, the liquid tasty and satisfying, but there was a moment where I wondered if it would be better if I had chosen the crackers and had the best food in the world. Then again, considering the loopholes I had discovered, it probably wouldn’t apply to drinks anyway–just food. And then I’d have great food and disappointing-in-comparison drinks.
No, I had made the right choice with the book mark.
I stared at the book on the table before me, the slight smell of sulphur wafting from the pages. I wondered where it had been stored to smell like this. I didn’t think the Pearl poet would have been making deals with demons, but I could never be sure. I frowned before touching it. I was fairly sure that the Lost Tales of the Pearl poet hadn’t been hidden away in some museum archive, but I did not want a repeat of the last fiasco when I’d been happily reading the First Shakespeare Folio to be interrupted by a news story about a theft at the British Museum. Luckily, no one thought to search the house of a simple barista in Chicago for the stolen manuscript, but if they had, I didn’t know how I would explain how the book got here.
I looked at the post-it note stuck the wall above the table, reached out, and put a check mark next to the Pearl poet. Eventually, I’d work my way through all of the pre-Christian Dark Ages and move on to the Middle Ages.
All that French, though, I thought. Good thing the bookmark lets me understand the book, no matter the language it was written in. I was having fun with the Old English names in Pearl, no doubt butchering the pronunciation enough to make Tolkien roll over in his grave. One of these names would conjure a demon if I wasn’t careful.