Steve smiled self-consciously at Yasmina, the Mediterranean beauty sitting across from him. He wasn’t sure why he’d asked her out, or why she’d accepted, but that didn’t matter. He was here, she was here, the burgers were here, and most importantly she was here. A while later he would be spending time in a dark theatre with a romantic movie and her.
“I wish I knew what I said to make you go out with me. I figured you were totally out of my league.”
“I am. I’m going out with you because you wished it. You were granted three wishes as a birthday gift, and that was one of them. This explanation is the second.”
“I have wishes? I wish I’d … never mind that sentence, okay. So is this all fake then?”
“After a fashion, yes. Your wishes can manipulate actions, not emotions. Even genies have their limits. You’re a nice guy but I usually don’t date ephemerals; you’re literally not in my league.”
“So if I wished to live forever …”
“Don’t. Immortality sucks. Everyone who asks for it leaves out some important condition and ends up in eternal misery. Consumer goods work best, as long as they’re not too ridiculous.”
“And you’ll stick around until all three wishes are made?”
“Yes, but you only have three days to make all three wishes.”
Steve smiled at that. Clever ideas were not really his specialty, but he’d just had one.
“Are you crazy, Jenny? Giving Steve three wishes is like giving a nuke to a five-year old!”
“Calm down, Tim. I’ve known Yasmina for years. She won’t let him do anything too stupid. Anyway, he used his first wish to get a date with her and his second to get an explanation. How bad can the third one be?”
“Knowing Steve, pretty bad. I’m surprised he didn’t wish to get her in bed.”
“He didn’t have to. Yas thinks he’s cute in a mortal kind of way, and she’s definitely old enough to choose her own partners. Anyway, he only has until seven tonight to make his third wish. He’s managed to string this out the full three days; I’m impressed.”
“Steve, it’s 6:55 p.m. You only have five more minutes to make your wish.”
“What happens if I don’t make that third wish?”
“Then my supervisor comes down and hits you with a monkey’s paw. It’s like a wish but it ALWAYS goes wrong in a brutally ironic way. You don’t want to go there.”
“Oh.” So much for Plan A; time for the backup plan.
“Do you like me, Yas?”
She suddenly looked dubious. “Ye-ess. You’re nice, and I have to admit I’ve enjoyed these last three days more than anything in a century or more. Why?”
“I wish I had a perfect memory of everything that happened, that I felt, from when I first met you until 7:00 pm.”
She tried to acknowledge him, but her lips were busy until 6:59 and forty-eight seconds.