I say it all the time now: Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it. I used to think that was so dumb. Why wouldn't you want to get something you wished for? That was before I had a djinn for a friend. With Omniar, I get reminded all the the time to be careful what I wish for.
Take the other day. I was at the cafeteria, trying to get my sixth grade math homework done before next hour began, and Ronny Kirby was annoying me. "Hey Kevin, check out this cool coin I found outside!" he said. I dropped everything I was doing, though I should have known better.
"So what? It's an Indiana quarter. Those have been out for a long time." I went back to doing my homework.
"But it's got a race car on it! And..."
"I wish you'd get lost," I told him, and went back to my homework. Well, Ronny wasn't in math class when they called roll. I figured he'd gotten sick and gone home, but when I got home, Mom was asking me if I had any idea where Ronny Kirby was. "He didn't come home," she said, "and nobody can find him. His Mom is worried sick!"
I went back to my room. "Omniar!" I called. He appeared a moment later. Omniar is a djinn, not a "genie". He gets mad if I use the "g-word", because he says that genies aren't real, though djinns are. Omniar doesn't look like the blue guy from Aladdin. He's more like a kid my age, except I can see through him, like a ghost. Nobody else can see him or hear him. On the other hand, when I talk to him, nobody can hear ME talking, so there's none of this "Kevin, who are you talking to?" like you see on TV. Maybe they can see my lips move, but no one can overhear my conversations with Omniar, which is good. If they could hear me talking, they would think I really was crazy. As it is, people think I'm kind of weird.
"What is it, master?" Omniar asked.
"Do you know where Ronny Kirby is?" I asked.
"Of course I do not."
"Oh. Okay then, " I began, and Omniar continued, "....because Ronny Kirby indeed is lost. You asked that I make it so."
"What? Where is he?"
"Master, your exact words to him were 'I wish you'd get lost' and so did I make it. Even I do not know where he has been cast, so lost is he."
"Where he has been 'cast'? That doesn't sound good. Omniar, you have to bring him back!"
"You know how to do that, Master."
Yes, I knew. That meant reaching up on the top shelf of my bedroom closet, bringing down the lockbox, opening the combination lock and pulling out the ring. There it was-- the ring, too big to fit comfortably, way too heavy, and really ugly. I slipped the ring on my finger and said, "I wish that Ronny Kirby would come home safe and sound," cancelling out my earlier wish. I knew that the problem was solved. Ronny would come back, maybe a bit shaken up from his experience, but okay. I also knew that after I took the ring back off my finger, it wouldn't be long before Omniar would mess up something else.
You see, not only do you get to make wishes with the ring on, after you take it off, you get what I call a "bonus wish" the next day. The trouble is, Omniar does a really lousy job at granting wishes. He's my best friend, and my biggest headache. Omniar has amazing abilities, but "really smart" isn't one of them. I have never seen him grant a wish right. The bonus wish-- the one you get the day after you remove the ring-- is the worst of all. If Omniar hears anything that sounds like a wish, he grants the wish, without even thinking about what he's done, and I can't undo the damage without getting the ring back out of my "safe". Of course, once I take the ring back off, I get another bonus wish, and it starts over.
If I had ANY sense, I would begin each day wishing for something unimportant so that I wouldn't have to worry about accidentally getting something I didn't want. There are lots of reasons why I don't do that. First, I forget most of the time. Second, it's kind of fun to see what Omniar can do. Finally, I keep hoping that he might learn how to use his magic right. So far, Omniar hasn't learned much, and I guess I haven't either.
I've given up on making wishes on purpose. One time, I wished for straight A's on my report card. When the report cards came out, mine was covered with A's, so that even the name Kevin O'Bryan came out as Aaaaa A'Aaaaa. The school had to ask each teacher for my real grades, and my parents heard about all sorts of things that they would have missed if I had just gotten a regular report card with B's, C's and D's.
Another time, I saw a cool bike in a catalog, and wished for a bike just like it. It looked great when I saw it, but when I tried to pedal it, it didn't move. It was made out of the same glossy paper in the catalog. It's still interesting to see what Omniar can do with anything else. You've heard about some of those misadventures in my other stories.
For the reasons I've said, I can't wear that big, clunky ring all the time. Besides, I lose things, and I sure don't want to lose that ring. That's why I lock the safe with a combination lock, because I could lose a key real easy. Don't ask me what happened when I wished never to lose anything. Man, was I sick!
The summer before last, when I was ten and a half, we went to the Bahamas for a vacation-- Mom and Dad, and my little sister Lyric. I got sunburned after that first day on the beach, so the rest of the week wasn't fun at all. Before we left, Dad gave me ten dollars to buy a souvenir. Trouble was, he gave me ten Bahamas dollars, which aren't worth as much as ten American dollars. Dad isn' t much more helpful than Omniar, come to think of it. Anyway, I had to buy something, and that's when I spotted that ugly ring. After I bought it, and put it on my finger, I knew it was too big, but the buyer wouldn't let me have my money back. As I walked away, I said, "I wish I hadn't bought that ring." That's when I first met Omniar.
"Thank you for releasing me from the ring," he said, "Now run!" "Run? Why?" I asked. Then I looked down and saw the Bahamas ten dollar bill back in my hand. "Thief! Come back here!" the seller was yelling.
"I don't get it!" I said while running, "I gave him my money." "Yes," said Omniar, "but you wished that you had not bought the ring, and I granted the wish. You did not buy the ring that you are wearing."
"You mean I stole it? All right, 'I wish I hadn't stolen the ring'." With that, my Bahamas $10 bill was gone again, and the seller forgot why he was chasing me. Omniar has been my friend ever since, protecting me from serious harm and getting me into one mess after another.
So how did I get into trouble this time? Monday night, an inch of snow came down on us, and I figured that school would be cancelled. I went snowball fighting and sliding, and I didn't worry about homework, since there would be no school. The next morning, though, Mom woke me up anyway. "I thought school was called off for the snow!" I said. Around here, they call it off a lot because of snow. "No," said Mom, "most of it melted during the night. So get ready."
Lyric was eating her breakfast, all ready for school. She's 8 years old and in third grade, one of those kids who likes school and is good at it. I could barely wake up, even in the shower, and I was still tired after I got dressed, barely able to make breakfast. "Kevin," Lyric asked, "If you're making toast, can you make me some too?"
"Do it yourself." I said, hatefully.
"But you've got the bread out..."
I mocked her, "'But-you've-got-the-bread-out!' So?"
"Never mind," she said, more disappointed than angry. I stood in her way while she tried to reach the toaster, finally moving aside when she called for Mom. I flopped down in a living room chair. I was tired, and I wasn't thinking. "I wish I didn't have to go to school," I said out loud. Big mistake.
A few minutes later, I heard Lyric walking to the door, off to the bus stop, and I started to follow her. Mom's voice suddenly interrupted me. "No, Kevin! You can't follow Lyric!" she said. "But Mom, I'm gonna miss the bus!" I said, and when I heard my voice, I knew something was wrong. I turned around, and had to look up to see her face.
"You don't ride the bus, honey. And anyway, you don't go to school on Tuesdays. Tuesday and Thursday are stay home days. Remember?"
I hadn't noticed any change until then. Usually, there's a flash of light that goes with the wishes, but I guess my eyes had been closed. I noticed the difference now. I was still in my pajamas and slippers, no longer dressed for school. Mom was bigger, and so was everything else. "What happened?" I said aloud.
Omniar answered the question, and for the first time, I had to look up to see him, as I might with a bigger kid. "I granted your wish, Master, so you no longer are required to go to school."
"You made me little?" I asked. I was stunned. "Mom? How old am I?"
"You just turned four last month, honey."
"Four?!" I ran to the mirror, and sure enough, I was a little kid. "OMNIAR!!!" I shouted.
"What is it, Master?"
"Omniar, I didn't wish to be four years old!"
"Your exact words were 'I wish I didn't have to go to school'..."
"So why am I a four year old?"
"Because when you were 12, you had to go to school. Even when you were younger, your mom and dad made you go to school, so you still had to go even if it wasn't the law. All I did was turn your age back eight years, to when you didn't 'have to' go to school every day."
"But Lyric is still the same age!"
"Yes. She didn't make the wish. Just you."
"So it's still the same year?"
"You did not wish to go back in time. You wished that you did not have to go to school. That is why you are a preschooler." He acted like it made perfect sense.
"Mom, what year was I born?" I asked my mother.
"In 2000," she said, "Want to see pictures?" Without waiting to hear whether I did, she got out a photo album. On the first pages were pictures of Lyric when she was little, but none of me. Then, when she was a few years old, a photo of Lyric sitting on the sofa and holding a baby wrapped in a blanket. "That's you!" Mom said. Written above the photo was the heading "Kevin Brian O'Bryan: Our Millennial Baby". Yecch. Why do parents write stuff like that? Of course, these are the people who thought it was cute to name their daughter "Lyric Melody O'Bryan" and to give me the middle name "Brian" to go with a differently spelled "O'Bryan".
With each page, it was clear who the bigger kid was. "Lyric is older than I am!" I said.
"That's right, honey. She's your big sister."
I retreated to my bedroom. "Omniar, please tell me I still have that ring."
"Of course master. Still in the lockbox, up on the top shelf of the closet."
He pointed up to the high shelf, way out of my reach. "It doesn't make sense. If I'm just four years old, there's no way I could have been able to buy that ring the summer before last, or even met you. So I shouldn't be four," I said.
"You were 10 when you bought the ring. And you were 12 yesterday. Today, you are four years old in this world."
"And you can't make me big again until I get the ring out of the box," I said.
"That is true."
"Alright, then. I guess I'll have to do this myself." After pushing a chair over to the closet, I climbed up. I was still too short to reach the top shelf. Maybe if I could put some books on the chair....
"Kevin, get down from there! You could get hurt!" It was Mom, pulling me off the chair and lowering me to the ground.
"But Mom, I have to..."
"No exploring, Kevin. I don't want to catch you climbing up here again. You could break your neck!" She pushed me to the door and followed me back out. The rest of the morning was spent watching things like Blue's Clues and Sesame Street, and I had a boring time. You wouldn't expect to be worn out from doing nothing, but I was exhausted. Mom dragged me with her to buy bread and milk, as she does whenever it snows. I refused to sit in the shopping cart, and walked with her all over that store. On the way back, I fell asleep in the car, and when I woke up, it was 3 o'clock. I had gotten my chance to stay home from school today, but tomorrow, I would be too happy to go back. IF I could go back.
Soon, my sister was home. "Hey, Lyric," I asked her. "Can you help me?"
"Mom! Kevin's bothering me again!"
"You just got here!" I said.
"Kevin, I have lots of homework to do. You're lucky. You're too little for that."
She pushed by me. "You have to learn how to play games by yourself."
"C'mon. I just need you to help me get something..."
"Mom!" she hollered again. "Kevin won't stop following me!"
I guess that was payback for the way I normally treated her, but it still hurt.
"Kevin," said Mom, "leave big sister alone. Come in here now, and watch TV."
At least there was stuff to watch on TV, but no sooner had I switched it to Toonami, then Mom changed the channel. "You don't need to watch violent cartoons," she said, and switched it over to PBS, again.
Soon, supper was ready. I sat at the table in a booster seat, but I still wasn't much higher than my plate. Mom had cut the food into little pieces for me, and it didn't take much to fill me up. When Lyric went out to play in the snow, I wanted to follow her, and I put on my winter coat and went to join her. She ended that pretty quickly, tugging me by the hand as we went back in the house. "Mom! Kevin followed me out here, without his hood and without even zipping up his coat! I'm going to Erica's, OK?"
Erica left again, and Mom asked, "Who gave you permission to go outside?" I didn't have to ask permission when I was 12. I just went. But at four years old, the rules were different. "Mom!!!" I shouted, and the moment I stomped my foot, her face hardened.
"That's it, young man." She took off my jacket, and sentenced me to "time out", sitting on the sofa for four minutes. It seemed like an eternity.
"Now can I play outside?" I asked.
"You have to stay with your sister... oh, I forgot, she's over at Erica's house. Anyway, it's time for your bath."
Soon, I was in a tub with plastic toys. To make matters worse, Mom was washing my hair, and pouring cups of water over my head to rinse it. "I can dry myself off!" I said.
"I know. You're a big boy. Get dressed now." Mom had laid out pajamas for me-- Spiderman pajamas. I wasn't going to be going anywhere tonight, and I soon learned that bedtime for me was 8 o'clock. Tomorrow, I would be going to school, but just fo rthe afternoon, unless I did something to fix it tonight. When Mom thought I was asleep, she left.
"Omniar, this really sucks," I said.
"However, you did not have to go to school."
"Compared to this, school is a lot of fun. I have to fix this. I can't stand another day of being a four year old. Don't you ever do anything like this again."
"I only try to grant your wishes, Master."
Of course, there would be no wishes until I got that ring, and it was up in the closet. I would wait until Mom and Dad went to bed, then get up in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, and stack up enough stuff to reach the top shelf. If I could make steps out of boxes of different sizes...."
I never got my chance, though. After I fell asleep, I didn't wake up again until the next morning.
Lyric, once again, was annoyed the moment I approached her. "If you help me get something out of the top of the closet, I'll give you a dollar," I offered.
She smiled...then laughed out loud. "A dollar? Where would YOU get any money?"
"C'mon Lyric. I'm too little to climb up there, but if you stood on a chair, you could get the lockbox."
"Stand up on a chair? Me?"
"Okay, how about this. Help me climb up on the shelf and..."
"Mom!! I'm trying to get ready, and Kevin keeps bothering me."
"It's just because he loves you, Lyric," Mom said.
Ecchh! Why do moms say stuff like that? Mom led me away again, while Lyric teased me. "He wanted me to put him on a shelf!" she said, jeering.
"Honey, let your big sister alone. You'll be going to school later today, all right? Let's find Paz the Penguin, OK?"
I could only imagine what Wednesday in kindergarten would be like. What would I be doing? FIngerpainting? Learning how to count to ten? What it meant when the big hand was on the 12? How embarrassing. Mom handed me a juice box and I was off to another morning of watching preschooler TV.
"Omniar," I summoned, "What am I going to do?"
"YOu will get out the ring and you will fix the wish."
"But I'm too short ot get up there, even on a chair."
"Perhaps your mother would get down for you the ring."
I hadn't thought of asking Mom. I waited until she was done getting Lyric to school, and made my first attempt then. "Mom, can you help me get something out of my closet?"
"Not right now, honey. Later." Mom was still working on her coffee, and then she would be taking a shower and getting ready for the day. It was awhile before I got her attention again, but she finally had a moment of peace and I repeated my request.
"OK, what is it you want out of your closet?" she asked.
"I'll SHOW you!"
"Why don't you just tell me?"
I knew better than to tell her-- too easy to say "no"-- so I pulled her by the hand until she followed me upstairs. I slid the closet door open and pointed to the top shelf. "See? It's a box!"
Mom reached up with ease and pulled the lockbox down. I was jumping up and down. Finally! All I had to do now was get the ring out, and I would be able to grow back up to 12 years old! If only it had been that easy....
(TO BE CONTINUED)