Friday, November 4, 2011

"The Morandini Genie" - "Call and Response" Flash Fiction #1

A couple of weeks back I announced a new series on my blog, "Call and Response" Flash Fiction, where my readers can suggest prompts, and I'll pick my favorite and use it as the basis for a flash fiction.

David Powers King was the first winning "prompter" and below is the story I wrote from his prompt:
"A child finds a candlestick in the gutter on her way home from school."
Saturday, we'll start the cycle up again with my second call for prompts. Can I do this during NaNoWriMo and survive. Stay tuned to find out! :)

Without further ado, based on David's prompt...

"The Morandini Genie"

Susan skipped down the road on her way home from school, but only because no one was looking. At twelve, she felt like she was too old to be skipping, even if it still felt fun.
A glint in the gutter caught her eye and she came to a stop. An old-fashioned candlestick was lying at the edge of the road, in the muck left from the prior night’s rain.
She almost passed it by, but something about it held her attention. She knelt down and touched it. Its warmth surprised her. She glanced around. Still no one was looking. She snatched up the candlestick and shoved it into one of the many partitions of her backpack.
The rest of the way home she ran.
She let herself into the house and thudded up the stairs to her room. Her backpack landed with its own thump as she shrugged it from her shoulders to the floor.
She pulled out the candlestick. It had intricate swirls and loops all along its base. The stem of the thing had a chain-like pattern, criss-crossing back and forth all around. She set it down on her desk. A bit of mud fell off and landed on one of her school papers. Susan grimaced and went for some paper towels.
She rubbed the candlestick with a damp paper towel, cleaning off the grime. As she did, she noticed it was even warmer than before. Suddenly, she felt a zap like static electricity on a winter day. The candlestick clattered to the desk. Beside it stood a tiny creature.
“Whoa! 50 years in a candlestick can give you such a crick in the neck!” it exclaimed.
Susan frowned at the little man-like thing. A tiny inkling at the back of her mind said that maybe she should be uneasy about talking whatsits suddenly appearing in her bedroom, but this thing was so small she couldn’t take the feeling seriously.
He frowned back. “Hey, c’mon, that gets me a laugh, right? Robin Williams? Aladdin?”
“Ummm... I think my parents watched that once.”
He glowered again at Susan and sighed. “Guess I need to freshen up my jokes... Anyway, that’s not why I’m here, right?”
“Why are you here?” she asked him. “For that matter, who are you?”
He made a show of looking himself up and down. “Duh! I’m a genie.”
“I thought genies came in lamps?”
“Eh. That’s a common misconception. Actually, anything bearing illumination can hold a genie. Lamps, candlesticks, flashlights. You name it.”
“You’re pretty small.”
“Thanks. I’d never noticed.”
She rolled her eyes. Was he really going to get into a battle of sarcasm with a twelve-year-old?
“So, now what?” she asked. “I get three wishes?”
“Actually, just one. Like you said, I’m pretty small.”
“I need to make it a good one, then.”
“Well, yes. But... Heh... Not too good. Remember. Small genie.”
She considered this. What would she want, if she could have anything...
“Can you make me smarter than Regan from my class?”
“No, sorry. I can make you smarter than Jesse from your class, though.”
“I already am smarter than Jesse!”
The genie shrugged. “If you say so.”
“Fine, then, make me a better runner than...”
“Lacey Hatler?”
Susan nodded.
“Nope, sorry. Remember, think small!”
“Well what sort of worthless genie are you?”
He pointed to a poster on her wall. “You like baseball, right?” She nodded. “So you know Derek Jeter?”
“Yeah, but how do you know Derek Jeter?”
“Azmoteth hooked me up with wi-fi on my stick a couple of years back. Hey, just because I’m ancient doesn’t mean I’ve got to be behind the times.” He shook his tiny head. “Anyway, like I was saying. Jetes. You know him, he’s a big star, right?”
“OK, you know Mickey Morandini?”
She hesitated.
“Didn’t think so. He was a second baseman, played for the Phillies and Cubs, hit about .270 and had 32 homers in his career. So, he’s a baseball player. He’s a pro baseball player. But he’s no Jeter, right?”
“Yeah, but what does...”
“So, look at me like Mickey Morandini. I’m your Morandini genie. Ain’t going to come up with some big splashy wish for you, but I can still help you out. Just in... You know... Little ways.”
Susan plopped on her bed. It figured that she’d have something special happen to her, something cool and unusual, and it would turn out to be totally weak... What could she wish for that this genie could deliver on?
“If I could suggest something..." he said. "How do you feel about ponies?”
Susan didn’t even give that comment a response. Finally, she sat up. “How about if you tell me what you are good at?”
“Ah! Well, let’s see. I’m good at finding lost articles, I’m a whiz at travel -- maybe you and your parents would like to zip down to the Caribbean?”
A vacation with her parents? No thanks. Susan shook her head.
“Hmm... And... I make a mean ice cream sundae!”
She sat and thought. Finding lost things... Travel... An idea came to her, and she presented it to the genie.
He nodded slowly. “It might take some time, though. Are you sure you don’t mind waiting?”
She said it would be fine and made her wish formal. Her genie zipped into the air and flew out her open window.
In her college dorm room, Susan awoke one morning to see that the candlestick she had hung onto for nine years was missing. Her heart leapt. No one else had been in her room; her roommate was out of town. It could only mean one thing.
She darted outside, still wearing her pajamas. And there it was, stuck under a bench. A big oil lamp, tarnished and dented. A note stuck under it read simply “From your Morandini Genie.”
She hurried her prize inside, eager to clean it off, and see what wonders its genie could perform for her.


  1. This is absolutely brilliant, Michael.

    "Actually, anything bearing illumination can hold a genie. Lamps, candlesticks, flashlights. You name it.”

    You realize you have a MG gem on your hands with that concept alone, right? Run with it.

    Thank you for picking my prompt. Your story turned out better than I imagined. :)

  2. David, I'm very glad that you enjoyed reading the story. That's an interesting point about the root concept, I hadn't thought of it in those terms.

    I enjoyed writing this quite a bit. I've written several shorts recently which were very dialogue heavy and I've enjoyed playing with character voice.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!