Genie in a Bottle
By Nancy Scott
It was the end of a successful writers’ group meeting. “Goodbye”s and “Good luck”s circled the room.
I’d come with Karen, and we were “goodbye-ing” and “good writing” toward the door when Karen stopped to ask Sandy about her necklace. “What is it? What’s it made of? I’ve been watching it all afternoon and wondering.”
Sandy showed us the tiny bottle on a chain saying that it was “some kind of shell.” Karen watched as Sandy allowed me to fondle the finely carved bottle top that actually opened.
“I thought there was something in there,” Karen declared triumphantly. “And I’ve been imagining something really exotic, like water from the Mediterranean.”
“No,” Sandy replied. “It’s dandelion seed. Someone sent it in a birthday card once. Dandelion seeds are for good luck.”
“There’s a story in there,” I immediately chimed in. “Someone should write it. In fact, all three of us could write our own version of the bottle and its story.”
We laughed and went on our ways with one last farewell and with the hope to come to the next meeting, but Karen and I continued talking in the car.
“Dandelion seed?” Karen was perhaps disappointed. “That’s not exotic at all.”
I smiled. “Maybe not exotic is the point,” I said.
Then there was a rain shower and a wrong one-way street and a coupon for a new restaurant we wanted to try. Distraction? Time to wait the idea out and see just how strong the pull was?
For me, the bottle and its contents grew more fascinating. The fact that something so ordinary could render good luck was wonderful. And who sent her the card with the seed in the first place? She didn’t tell us, so it must be someone important and magical. Did Sandy buy the bottle to hold the dandelion near her heart or did the bottle attract her first and and its purpose came later? Why did Sandy, an energetic and caring writer, feel she needed good luck?
The genie in the bottle has a different, but no less compelling, story for every person who would uncork the telling. My story would be caring and maybe romance. My story would be faith and magic.
Karen’s story would be the color and texture of the shell and how she wanted the waters of a far-away sea to be what Sandy chained near her heart.
And Sandy’s story? Part of me really wants to know, but part of me likes my story and would hate to have it spoiled by a possible mundane truth. I know my story is right, no matter what Sandy’s tale is. After all, I’m writing it.
This is the real magic— the genie in the bottle with which every writer crafts truths and wishes. Love and magic? Mediterranean water or dandelion seed? A poem or a novel? Braille, audio, or print? Who knows what each one of us could make real.
Nancy Scott, of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, is a poet and essayist who is blind from birth and fascinated, or perhaps obsessed with, the NASA program. Scott’s over 650 essays and poems have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies, newspapers, and as audio commentaries. She has a new chapbook, The Almost Abecedarian (on Amazon), and won First Prize in the 2009 International Onkyo Braille Essay Contest. Recent work appears in Breath and Shadow, Braille Forum, Disabilities Studies Quarterly, Philadelphia Stories, and Wordgathering.