I had called my group of friends over to my place. My parents wouldn’t mind. They never minded. I’m lucky that way. I can get away with nearly anything. Nearly, but not everything.
My friends were all from school. James and Denise lived on the same block as I do. Brent and Robert each live about a quarter mile away, but not in the same direction. Then there’s Aaron, who lives on the other side of town, but always comes over when invited.
I wanted to have a little fun. Some fun that involved my friends. I had a game that I wanted to play. It was a mental exercise for my friends. It would be fun to find out their answers the the question of the evening. It was one we’d played many times over the years.
“What is the game,” you ask?
The game is “What would you wish for if you had one wish?” There are some simple rules. No wishing for someone to come to harm; no wishing for immortality; no wishes that defy the natural order of the world; and no wishes to become anything like a ruler of any thing from the lowest village to the entire world.
James arrived first, which was quite usual for him. He was that kind of person. Always on time, which for him was at least 15 minutes early. Denise arrived with Aaron. She’d given him a ride from school back home and then to my place. We’re all good friends, and this was normal for her. She liked helping others and Aaron wasn’t the kind of person to turn down a ride. He wasn’t prideful in that way. Brent showed up on his 250cc Kawasaki. He’d been riding a motorcycle since he got his license with motorcycle endorsement. Thankfully, he was not a show-boater. He road motocross and did fairly well, but when on the street he was always a good and thoughtful rider and was mindful of everything around him. Last to arrive was Robert, who walked. He could have had Denise pick him up, but he liked to walk. He said it helped him think.
So, we were all at my place. I had some burgers cooking and ready to go when they had all arrived. Everyone grabbed a plate and made their burgers the way they liked them. There were plenty of beverage choices, I knew all their preferences. Single serving bags of chips of various types were there to be had, too. We all got settled in with food and drink and sat down at the gaming table in the basement.
Being that it was my place, and I invited everyone, I started things off.
“Okay, we’ve done this before, but it’s been a while. I was wondering how we’ve all changed in terms of what we’d wish for. Same rules as always apply. So, think it over as you eat. Then we’ll all take a note pad and pencil and see what we come up with and and discuss our wishes.”
I got razzed a little. Denise teased me about having thought I’d decided on spin the bottle, and then having chickened out. The others teased me as well, but it was all in good fun. We actually enjoyed this game and usually we did something else afterwards for fun to follow it up. I was hoping tonight would be different.
After we’d all finished our burgers, everyone grabbed a pad and pencil and started writing. This was how we went about our wish creation. Writing it down made it easier to get our thoughts out clearly.
After about 15 minutes everyone seemed to have gotten their thoughts down.
“A single wish. Let’s start with you Arron.”
“Honestly, if I were possible, I would wish for an end to racism. You’re all great, and treat me well, but too many out there look at anyone like me and all they see is a stereo type. We’ve discussed this kind of wish and it’s not possible. So ... my wish would be to be in a position to help prevent unnecessary violence. I don’t know what form it would take, but it sure would feel good to know I was able to do something positive like that.”
Denise looked at him and smiled, “You’re a great person, Aaron. That’s a great wish, too. May I go next?” She looked around the table and got the nod from all of us.
“Thanks, guys. As a young woman, I have a wish that cannot be used in this game. A wish that all abusers and rapists would always get caught and found guilty of their crimes and do appropriate sentences. That’s too broad though. It would affect the world. So, my wish would have to be something more personal; more meaningful to me. I want to do something meaningful with my life. I don’t know what it would be, so my wish would be that I always find my way to the most meaningful direction within my life and abilities, so as to do the most good I am capable of.”
I looked at Denise with a little surprise. Her wish was not specific, but could lead to great things. “Wow, that’s quite the wish. You’d never know where you were headed, for sure, but you’d always end up doing good; the most good possible, for you, bu that wish. Nice!”
“I thought about it. I could wish to be a great lawyer, or something like that, but would it actually place me in a position to do the most good? I don’t know. So, I made my wish something more open, with more possibilities. Glad you like it.”
There were words of agreement from the rest of the group. We were all good people. We liked helping others. Some of us tutored kids in need of help after school. Others spent time doing various activities like going to the Humane Society and helping take care of the animals and walking them. I could go on, but that’s not the point of this story, now is it?
“James, how about you go next? You usually have a good one,” said Aaron.
“Sure, why not. If no one else minds?”
No one disagreed with James going next and so he went.
“I’ve given this some thought. I’ve got a strong desire to join the military. I’m specifically thinking of the US Navy. My wish, with that in mind, is to be the best I can be at any task set before me. Since we’re all Sophomores, that should give me time to get positioned to be selected for Annapolis. It also would affect pretty much every part of my life, in a positive way. What do you think?”
We discussed his wish for a few minutes. It was agreed that his was a pretty good wish, and like Denise’s it was open to many possibilities, but did not intrinsically violate any of the rules.
Brent went next.
“You’ll all think I’m a bit nuts, but I’d like to wish for the ability to always find a way out of a bad situation that does not harm anyone or violate any laws. I mean, say I was about to get into an accident, I’d automatically find the best action to prevent it from either happening, or to reduce the damage to myself and those who would be involved. Or, say I was out on one of my races. You all know how dangerous motocross can be. I’d always be able to avoid wrecks and such. It doesn’t mean I won’t wipe out, but if I did, I would be safe from harm.”
The group agreed that it was a sensible wish. They also commented on how the wishes were so more open than when we last played the game a couple of years ago. I guess we’d matured.
Robert was next and his was probably the most seemingly simple wish of them.
“My wish is that no matter what, I never get lost again.”
“What kind of wish is that,” asked James.
“Yeah,” pipped up Brent. The others murmured agreeing sounds.
“Think about it. Lost doesn’t just mean physically. A person can get spiritually lost. Or lost in loneliness, or many other things. You can even get lost when it comes to understanding something. Haven’t we all said, at one time or another, ‘I feel so lost in that class. It doesn’t make sense!’”
The light grew in all our eyes as we began to understand just how powerful a wish Robert had come up with. It was amazing really. I had some great friends.
Now, all eyes were on me. I was the only one left to make their wish known.
“So, you want to know my wish, now? I guess it is only fair, since you’ve all shared yours with me. But, first, I must tell you a secret. You won’t be able to tell anyone, so that’s not a concern. What is a concern, for me, is how you will think of me after I tell you.
“I am not one of you. I was, a long time ago. So long that there is no record of my tribe left to be found. I was a sacrifice. One that was accepted. Yes, I see the looks of incredulity in your eyes, but hold your thoughts and hear me out, please. As I was saying, I was a sacrifice. My people were in dire straights. It was believed that the only way to end the famine and drought was to make a meaningful sacrifice to the gods. No animal was healthy enough to be such a sacrifice and be accepted. There were no girls who were deemed appropriate, either. The sacrifice had to have meaning, and females were not all that meaningful to my people or most people back then. Women were often treated and traded like cattle. So, the search for a good and proper sacrifice lead to me. By some fluke, I had been born overly healthy. I was strong and intelligent for my age. I was the kind of person that would eventually have become a leader. Maybe that was part of why I was chosen. I would have been a threat to those who were in power, too. So, I became the sacrifice to the Gods.
“I was placed on a solid wooden table with some gems and precious metals. I’d been drugged and tied down. I knew they expected for me to die out there, to be burned as an offering to the Gods. Yet, because of the drugs, I had no fear. In fact, I was joyous. I sang and laughed. I called for the Gods to come take me and save my people from the famine and drought. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and all I knew was no more.
“When I was next aware, I was changed. I had been man, and still looked like man, but I was something else. I quickly learned that I was accepted as a good and proper sacrifice and that I was no longer human. I’d been changed into what you call a Genie, or more properly a Djinni. Those metals and gems became a ring to which I was bound. I’ve served many masters. Some horrible, some wonderful, most just typical. The most wonderful one released me with his dying breath.”
My friends looked at me and started to laugh.
“Wow, that’s quite the story, Nathanial!” Exclaimed James.
“Yeah, what a tale! You tell it so convincingly, too,” responded Denise.
“Man, you really know how to spin a yarn,” was Brent’s reply.
Robert shook his head and said, “Dude, that’s one hell of a story. You going to put that one in the school paper?”