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Genie From the Gym

M.K. Hutchins' YA fantasy novel Drift is both a Junior Library Guild Selection and a VOYA Top Shelf Honoree. Her short fiction appears in IGMS and Daily Science Fiction. She studied archaeology at BYU, giving her the opportunity to compile ancient Maya genealogies, excavate in Belize, and work as a faunal analyst. She blogs at www.mkhutchins.com.

First Wish:
I wasn't stupid. Someone had abandoned that lamp in the gym locker room for a reason. I thought about just wishing to lose weight, but the genie might vaporize my arm or something to meet that requirement. So I wished that I could lose weight.
Overnight, chocolate disappeared from the world. Anyone attempting to bake cookies would open their ovens to find cold, crisp slices of cucumber.
Second Wish:
I wished that I could lose weight in a world where chocolate and salt caramel cookies still existed. The genie smiled. I should have known that was a bad sign.
Every food that I touched turned into cucumbers, like I was some botanical King Midas.
Third Wish:
The genie assured me that I'd receive one wish from him for as many days as I kept the lamp. "Feel free to ask frivolously for mighty things," he encouraged me, an evil gleam in his eye.
I though about it for a couple days, then decided to keep it simple. I wished I could lose weight and eat goat cheese dark chocolate brownies.
The genie gave me cancer.
Fourth Wish:
I almost wished cancer didn't exist, but the accursed genie looked so smug when I began talking that I was certain he'd, I don't know, use an asteroid to annihilate the human race and cancer with it.
After a week of debating with myself, I wished to be a disease-free Midas of the Cucumbers again. The genie obliged.
Fifth Wish:
What did I really want? I pondered it for a month. I'd signed up for a gym membership because I was stressed, really. Tired. Overworked. There was always one more task--either at home or at my job. Wouldn't shedding a few pounds help me feel better?
Honestly, shedding some stress would probably help more. Both in terms of feeling better and losing weight.
The genie eyed me all month with his darkly laughing eyes. "Ready to despair and finally abandon me somewhere for another poor mortal to find? Gym rooms are foul; I request the beach or a library. Your imagination for wishes is pathetic."
But by then, I'd figured it out. "I'd like you to clean my clothes, please, and then neatly put them away where they belong."
"I--I--I'm not a washing machine!" he spluttered.
"You're a genie. You can be anything I ask you to be."
I stayed and watched him the first time, but apparently he couldn't come up with something sinister to do with such a simple wish.
After that, I only wished for clean clothes. One less thing for me to stress about. While he took care of the laundry, I went out for a relaxing jog and enjoyed the sunlight.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
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