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A Genie in a Jam

by Oonah V. Joslin

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DJ, an irresponsible young Djinn, wants to be a Genie. Despite the opposition of Obsidian, his old teacher, he persuades the Elders to allow him to take a position with a company selling jam.

DJ finds it’s no easy thing granting wishes, but humans and their vices fascinate him. Naively he blunders from job to job until at last he is called upon to answer some serious accusations. He faces a sentence of hard labour or worse. Just when things seem blackest, DJ realises how sweet life can be.

Genie, by Jerry Wright

Chapter 15: An Impossible Jam

Sakura greeted DJ with a beaming smile of welcome that warmed his heart. He produced a little black satin box from behind his back and presented it to her. She opened the lid. Inside was a piece of rose quartz that fitted perfectly into the palm of her hand. It was unlike anything she had ever seen before. This was no mere rock. Its heart was still warm and its colour breathed and changed; glowed with an inner pulse and emanated a healing sense of calm and purity that seemed to fill the room. This was a living crystal, fresh from the gem mines, with its life-force still intact that would endure for millennia. DJ had risked all to get it.

Sakura glowed with pleasure. ‘This is alive like a cherry blossom,’ she said. ‘I have never seen such a beautiful stone. Thank you, DJ. I shall treasure it always.’ She leaned over and brushed his cheek with her lips as if it was the most natural thing in the world and DJ’s heart skipped and fluttered so, he felt as if he was phasing in and out of Earth space. ‘Please, come and sit,’ she said, noticing his discomfort and she took his arm.

A small table was laid for two, with an array of square and rectangular dishes in many shades of black, grey and red. They contained bite-sized foods, nibbles such as DJ had not seen before. He was filled with wonder at how artistically appealing this Earth food could be.

In the centre of the table was a small glass flask inside a larger vessel that contained hot water.

‘What is this?’ he asked.

‘Sake,’ replied Sakura. ‘It is a traditional drink of rice wine. I know your fondness for fiery drinks and I think you will like this. It looks like water but it’s much different.’ As she said this she took the flask and dried it with a small cloth. She poured some wine into a tiny white cup for DJ. It smelt of spirit but tasted warm and sweet — fresh as autumn apple juice, yet strong as flame.

‘Exquisite,’ said DJ, and Sakura blushed knowing that he meant her, too.

She poured some more and then lit three candles as a centerpiece. ‘I have prepared small dishes from my culture which I thought you would enjoy, DJ, for their heat. These are tempura and sushi. You can dip them into the sauces.’

There was a selection of hot and sweet dipping sauces and pink pickled ginger, soy with chilies sweet and sour, teriyaki and green ginger paste, and rice white as the pearls of the great salt caverns.

DJ tried everything with everything and found that what he liked best was fresh pineapple and chicken dipped into a hot sauce. It reminded him of jerky. ‘Pineapple would make wonderful jam,’ he remarked.

‘I don’t know, DJ. It might be an impossible jam,’ said Sakura. ‘You see pineapple, kiwi, other exotic fruits contain an enzyme that destroys pectin; but if you wish, I will try to make you some pineapple jam.’

DJ was impressed by her knowledge of chemistry as well as her culinary ability. ‘Mama Winston would say nothing is impossible. What do you think, Sakura?’

Sakura blushed. She began to tell him about her family and the cherry blossom festivals of her childhood when the valleys were full of dancing feet and singing and soft, tinted blossom.

DJ wanted to listen forever.

As they ended their meal the moon rose and shone through the cherry tree now in bloom outside her window and they went over to view it, holding hands, standing with moonlight before them and candle light behind. DJ thought he had never felt so warm or close to anyone. For the first time, he felt perfectly happy and very much at home in Earth space. Their lips met.

* * *

All at once DJ stood once more in the Great Council Chamber, bewildered and this time in disgrace. Those candle flames must have been Obsidian’s spies! DJ knew nothing about enzymes but he could tell at once that this was an impossible jam. No Djinn was ever brought summarily and against his will to the Council Chamber — unless he was on trial. He flickered visibly amid the transcendent opulence of that hall in which the Djinn Elders now gathered to judge him.

‘You know of what you are accused?’ boomed Topaz from the central throne.

DJ knew the procedure. In order to demonstrate his cognizance of their displeasure, he had to speak his own charges as relayed to him telepathically by the council. His little voice echoed thinly through the chamber as they relayed their thought. ‘I am accused of willful insubordination to the company board of Jeanie’s Jams and to the Djinn Council of Elders, failure to execute my duties to the satisfaction of the Great Council, and experimentation with certain human vices.’

Obsidian, who looked even blacker than usual, growled and Topaz flashed at him to hold his peace — for now.

‘We will hear you, DJ,’ interrupted the sweet voice of Jade. ‘You need not be afraid if you are guiltless.’

DJ dared not look around that awesome company. He was speechless.

‘It would appear you failed on many occasions to grant even the most basic human wishes?’ prompted Jasper.

‘Your eminences,’ said DJ finding his voice, ‘oftentimes humans don’t know what they want.’

‘You have been taught this since infancy,’ said Obsidian scathingly. ‘Humans are creatures of water, gas and ash. We are not alike. They have no inner flame by which to live.’

‘But they have! Indeed they do!’ This impertinent affirmation surprised even DJ himself. He had never dared contradict Obsidian in all his life. He flickered terribly and nearly went out.

‘Begging your eminent pardons’ — he bowed — ‘but I have lived among them now and I know they have warmth and... and passion. They even burn with desire.’ At once, DJ lowered his tone as it struck him that he might be asked to explain how he knew that. ‘And many of them seek as much light as they can,’ he ended.

‘Indeed DJ, you seem to love them as much as your own kind,’ puzzled Onyx.

To DJ, Obsidian looked almost bright with triumph.

DJ felt the hot gaze of the Elders and could think of little but the punishment awaiting him in the gem mines, and the even greater punishment of never seeing his beloved Sakura again if they found him guilty of willful misconduct, as he was sure they would. He was too miserable now to care about the consequences. ‘There is one whom I love,’ he said, and his voice was strong but not defiant, ‘more than any other creature in this world or that.’

Sparks of consternation flew between the council members. They had never before heard such a speech.

‘You have fallen in love?’ Jade’s voice betrayed dismay.

DJ looked around the Elders for some other reaction. All was lost now anyway. It was the mines for him. Jasper’s flame had become dark red and subdued. Onyx was wavering. Topaz had dulled to tobacco brown. This news had struck deep and cold at their hearts. It was a weighty matter. Last of all DJ looked at Obsidian. To his surprise there was no hint of triumph in his demeanour. He had taken on a heavy appearance. His flame slumped. He looked grave.

Then Obsidian drew himself up and addressed the Council. ‘We will hear all the witnesses in your defense, DJ.’

So... that was his game: he merely wished to prolong the agony of the trial. ‘I have none to be heard, sir,’ said DJ, bowing low.

Ignoring him, Obsidian boomed, ‘Call the first witnesses.’

Copyright © 2010 by Oonah V. Joslin

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