2022. The bottle
© Bruce Goodman 14 January 2021
Dale was a keen gardener. Actually, that’s not particularly accurate. He had a love of gladioli and that’s all he had growing in a small patch in his back yard. At least during the relatively short flowering season it got him out of the house for a couple of minutes a couple of times a day, much to the relief of his wife of fifty-two years, Eunice.|
“I never knew that retirement would bring such stress,” declared Eunice not infrequently. “He’s always under my feet.”
“Retirement is such a stressful stage of life,” declared Dale. “It’s why I find solace in my gladioli. It pays to have some sort of hobby.”
Anyway, a strong wind came one early morning and snapped the stem of Dale’s prize gladioli. It was the only one he hadn’t staked. Eunice suggested they put it in a vase and display it inside. Dale agreed, although usually Eunice wasn’t permitted to touch a single stem.
“That’s what every second woman does with a man’s hobby,” said Dale. “No sooner does it flower than they want to cut it off and kill it.”
The problem with a gladioli stem is that it needs a tall vase. It was something, despite fifty-two years of marriage, which Eunice and Dale didn’t possess. Using an empty wine or beer bottle was crass. Something was needed with a touch of style. Eunice said she would get something suitable from the local junk shop. She popped off to the shops, and it didn’t take long before she returned with a deep blue bottle with a cork. It wasn’t too fancy, and it wasn’t too plain.
“The first thing we’ve got to do,” suggested Dale, “is to pull out the cork and rinse the bottle. You never know what that bottle’s had in it.”
He pulled the cork off and out popped a genie. (If you think, dear Reader, that this is a sudden and stupid turn in the narrative, know that it’s exactly where the plot has been heading the whole time).
“You have one wish!” pronounced the genie. “It rests within my power to bring back to life one dead person you name.”
What excitement! Who shall it be? Eunice and Dale began to argue whether it should be Aunt May or Uncle Vince.
Meanwhile, much has happened. The gladioli has withered, Dale and Eunice have divorced, and the genie (tired of waiting) scampered off in search of a brandy bottle in need of emptying.
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