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Authors: Deborah Kreiser

Three Wishes (22 page)

BOOK: Three Wishes
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At last, I give him one more kiss and start to get out of the car, but he runs around to my side so he can walk me to the door. “I know you weren't feeling yourself earlier.” He lets me go with a quick hug around the waist, and I watch him walk away as I stand in the open front door.

“You're letting the bugs in!” I hear from behind me.
Too bad.
I wait till Pete drives off before I close the door and walk into the living room. Papa's doing inventory at the store tonight, so it's only my grandmother. “Have a good time?” Mamère asks, and I nod with a big yawn. “Finish your homework?” I start to nod again then shake my head, because I don't have any homework, for once. I tell her so and then prepare to go upstairs.

“Genie, I, uh…”

“What, Mamère?” I pause on the steps.

She's quiet for a moment. “Listen, sweetheart, you and Pete seem to be getting, um, intense, and I want to make sure you're, you know, being careful.”

“Huh?” I've never heard my grandmother sound so uncertain, and I'm confused.

“You know we expect you to make good choices, Genie. If you and Pete are getting, uh, physical—”

“Um, yeah, totally. Don't worry.”
We're not having this conversation. No, really.
I don't even wait for her reaction before fleeing up to my room. The only good news is the discussion has woken me up. I didn't want to go to bed by 8:00 p.m., but I was so tired I had thought I was going to have to drag myself under the covers.

Now I'm wide awake, with no homework and no friends to talk to on the phone. I don't feel like dealing with the computer right now, so I flop down on my bed to try to review today's encounter with Dr. Morocco with my mother's diary. To my surprise, words fill the page as soon as I open it up.

It's been a while.

“What happened? It's been weeks!”

I'm sorry. I've been… unavailable. But I'm back now. And have you yet found your first master?

I let an annoyed breath out through my teeth. “It's — it's Pete, okay? It'll be Pete.”
Just get off my back!
“But anyway, I had an interesting experience with Dr. Morocco again today.” I tell her everything that happened. It's a relief to get it all out, and my mother is duly impressed by my powers.

C'est ma fille!
I'm so proud
.
You have surpassed your mother's abilities. But please, stay cautious around Dr. Morocco. I still do not trust her.

I'm not sure if I trust Dr. Morocco, either. At times, she seems like a friend. At others, like an adversary. But I don't want to let on to my mom that I feel any doubt. I like the idea of being more powerful than she. Still, I promise to be careful around Dr. Morocco. Then I remember. “Mom, I have to ask you about when you got close to your eighteenth birthday. Did you feel… well,
moody
, and, like,
hormonal
as your powers grew stronger?”

I can't say I know what you mean,
ma chérie.

I then explain, in part, what had happened with Kaydee. Glossing over the context and her comment, I focus on how I was so ready to wish her ill, and how I had trouble keeping my emotions in check.

No response.
Great, she's disappeared again.
“Mom?”

I swear, it seems like the diary sighs.

I must tell you something, Eugénie.

“Um, okay.”

I had hoped to avoid it, but now I see you must know the whole truth. When I said earlier it was difficult to break apart my agreement with Guy, it was an understatement. I didn't know I could not trust him, so I planned to have him over one evening while my mother was out.

It had been months since we had last seen one another, but still he assumed intimacy with me, holding me close and smothering me with his kisses. I was uncomfortable and regretted deciding to see him alone, but it was too late. I can still see his eyes, feverish with desire. His twenty-first birthday — genie males mature three years after us — was mere weeks away, and I should have known better. My mother had warned me the Marocs were unpredictable at the best of times, and this was when he would be at his most volatile.

After several false starts, while he kept pawing at me, I pushed him away and told him there was something I needed to say.

“I'm in love with someone else, and I cannot keep my promise to you.”

At first, he scoffed, but then saw I was serious. “I don't think so, Geneviève. No other djinni would dare steal you from me.”

I looked down in my lap. “He's not a djinni,” I said.

“Speak up.”

“He's a human,” I told him, facing him despite my fear.

He drew himself up, eyes blazing, though his voice remained controlled. “Do you mean, you are breaking our agreement for a man? A common, ordinary, useless man? How dare you, Geneviève? How dare he?” He began to pace, one hand punching into the other.

“He doesn't know! It's not his fault. You can be angry with me.”

“Oh, yes, I can, and I am.” He wheeled to look at me. “Because you say it's over doesn't mean it's over, you know.”

As he approached, I tried backing away, but he had me cornered. As I began stammering a wish, he beat me to it, and wished me frozen in place. His powers, several months ahead of mine, were stronger, and there was nothing I could do.

“Oh, Geneviève, I wish you'd forget everything I am about to do.”

From that point on, my memory is blank. His power so far surpassed mine there was no way I could regain the memories he wished away. I told my mother, who made Guy confess in full. He said he hadn't done anything to me, but he gave me a sly smile as he spoke. To this day, I don't know what happened that night.

All I know is how I felt. Physically fine, but degraded, betrayed, and ashamed. Those were such human feelings that I craved some human love. I sought out Matt, but told him nothing, except I had broken it off with Guy. He thought my tears were because I was breaking also with my family and tried comforting me by taking me in his arms.

The next thing I knew, our bodies were entwined. I felt the rush of power, and I became an animal, nearly out of control with lust. Matt responded, but hesitated at the last moment, wanting to make sure of my intentions. I nodded to him, thinking what we were about to do would erase any last worries about my meeting with Guy.

It was a magical night, and it did help settle my feelings about Guy. But I was shocked, and at first dismayed, to realize two months later I was pregnant. Not yet eighteen, and right on the cusp of my full powers, I was unprepared for this change.

Still, I was already in love with the idea of being a mother. I worried about what this would mean for me, and for my relationship with Matt. I worried, too, that Guy's self-satisfied smirk meant Matt might not be the father, though my instincts told me that was unlikely. I began wishing that he was, and that my beautiful baby would have Matt's distinct green eyes. When I told Matt the news, he was over the moon with excitement, and wanted to get married right away and move back to his hometown. This was not what I had expected.

“And? Mom?”

No response. Was this too much for her to share? It was almost too much for me to take.

“Are you going to finish this story?”

Still nothing.

I am overwhelmed by this new information, and the thought of what my mother went through at my age leaves me sick with disgust and angry at Guy. I run into the bathroom, hunched over, stomach roiling.
There's no way.
Straightening up, I look into the mirror at my sea-green eyes like my dad's. It brings me comfort, though I still feel awful for my mom.

I wonder…
does Dr. Morocco know my mom thought there was a chance Guy might be my father? Do my grandparents know?
They couldn't. My head is awhirl with this new information, and I know I'll never get to sleep.
How many surprises am I going to have before I'm eighteen?

I lie back on my bed and stare out my skylight, seeking answers among the stars. I know I'm a Lowry, through and through. I can't believe anything else. Then I see a shooting star, and it gives me comfort. I fall into sleep, and dream of absolutely nothing.

Chapter Twenty

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are still alive. — George Eliot

This time, I'm not at all shocked when I see Dr. Morocco in calculus class, a mere week after our last encounter. With my birthday on the horizon, she seems to have put my training on her front burner. Resigned to another session with her, I barely pay attention to the AP test preparation she's offering. Given my stellar grades, I'm not too concerned about how I'll do on the test, which is this coming weekend.

After the bell rings, she looks at me, and I nod back in understanding
. Here we go again.
A few of the other students examine me, curious. I guess they've noticed our after-school meetings. “Extra test prep,” I mutter to get them off my back.

I make my way through the rest of my classes. My mood drifts downward when I spot Leia and Joel eating lunch together, but I try harder to forget about them and surround myself with Pete's friends. Seeing Pete again in English briefly lifts my mood, but he's also puzzled by this third meeting with Dr. Morocco.

“What is all of this about, babe?”

I use the same excuse. It is a kind of a test prep, after all.

“Okay,” he says. “Do you want me to wait for you again?”

I give him puppy-dog eyes, and whimper.

He laughs. “How can I resist that?”

But the cute act isn't going to help me with Dr. Morocco. She's waiting for me in the classroom. I've decided this time I'm not going to be afraid; I've already proven myself to her, so I march in and confront her. “What now?”

Her eyes blaze. “You're awfully sure of yourself, for someone who's not yet a full genie.”

I swallow, confidence lost. “Well, I—”

“You know so little about being a genie.” She cuts me off. “You should be grateful to me. I bet you haven't even found a master yet.” She sniffs when she sees my expression. “I knew it. You have so much to learn. Now, here's an important lesson: I wish you to lose your voice.”

I try to talk but cannot even squeak out a sound. I grasp at my throat, my eyes searching for Dr. Morocco. She smiles — cruelly? — and tells me all djinn should know how to make wishes without speaking them aloud. “How else can you keep your intentions secret, if you are under attack?”

She must be able to read my surprise, because she continues. “Did you think all djinn are peace-loving? Not so. You must know how to defend yourself, and this is your best strategy. Now, I'll leave you alone, Eugénie. I'm going to put out the lights and lock the door. I'm wishing no one can hear you if you try making noise. Your only way of escape is by wishing yourself out. Oh, and you may want to bring your voice back, too. Then again, you might be better off without it.” She chuckles — the same dark chuckle I heard from the shadows when I was sledding with Pete in the winter.

As that thought hits me, the door closes with a firm click, and, simultaneously, the lights go out. What
is
her problem, anyway? Has she been stalking me all of this time?

I try to focus on my annoyance with Dr. Morocco to distract me from the panic rising within me. This is like a sensory deprivation chamber. I never noticed before how the blinds block out every bit of light from the windows. Or maybe Dr. Morocco wished for it to be pitch-black to make this experience even more horrifying.

I can hear the sounds of people walking in the halls outside the classroom, but I know they can't hear me. Swallowing a few times, I take ten deep breaths, concentrating on each one, listening to my heartbeat slow itself.
Calm down, calm down,
I'm chanting in my mind. And focus.

It's starting to work.

“Genie?” I hear Pete's voice in the hall. There's a murmured response, but I can't tell who it is. “Well, if you see her, tell her I'm waiting in the parking lot.”

That snaps me out of my focus, and my pulse revs again.
Get me out of here!

Stop, stop, don't panic, Genie. It's dark, and the door is locked, yes. Still, I surprised Dr. Morocco before. I can do the same now.
Another ten deep breaths. Avoid hyperventilating.

I start to use my other senses, giving myself more familiarity with the room. One would think, after having been here every day of high school, I would know this place like the back of my hand, but it's so different in the dark. As I feel around, I confirm there are two rows of desks from where I had been sitting to the door leading into the hallway. Jiggling the handle, I am not surprised to find it won't unlock manually. Dr. Morocco made sure of that. I pat the wall until I find the light switch, but flicking it up and down changes nothing.

And then, like a light bulb going on over my head, I remember my tetrahedron.
Of course.
I don't need to see it; I know right where it is in the inside pocket of my purse. I feel my way back to my seat, and, confidently, I put my hand in and palm the tet. With a sigh of relief, my anxiety lessens.

I sit back down at the desk and close my eyes. Though it is so dark, somehow the act of closing my eyes still helps me to channel my energies. I visualize the internal mechanism of the lock and see the tumblers move together while the latch on the door turns. Still, I don't hear the click indicating it worked. Frustrated, I start over. I suppose I could have first wished for my voice back, but I am determined to master the lesson Dr. Morocco has set for me.

BOOK: Three Wishes
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