Last night, I dreamed you were in my tea kettle—a gentle vapor of pressurized H2O (plus some other things, namely: sugar, spice, everything nice, perhaps Chemical X?), ready to burst forth from the kettle’s spout to grant my every wish. I waited for you to whistle, then poured you over a local blend named “Strawberry Meadows.” You sprang to life then, drinking up calming green leaves, orange peel, and black currant notes. You absorbed them into you, until you became them.
You told me three: three was the magic number. No wishing for more wishes, no wishing for immortality, and no wishing for love. I looked down at the water in the cup, growing ever brighter and greener by the second, then looked up at you—bubbling incorporeal warmth and steam-bright smile. “Spend twenty-four hours with me,” I said. “That’s all I ask.”
You nodded once and became tangible, touchable, smelling of fresh strawberries. You had a wish of your own, you said, to learn how to be. What had been a large breakfast for one we made into a reasonable meal for two, with bacon and eggs and two warm cups of Strawberry Meadows. I let you use my favorite mug, the one that looked like a Volkswagen RV. My brother gave it to me in August before I moved out.
It wasn’t until we sat at the television and played Mario Kart 8 that I asked for my second wish. Without hesitation, you chose Peach as your main. You leaned in closer to me as you drifted around my puttering Yoshi. You smelled of fresh strawberries. I inhaled. “Give me another twenty-four hours. That’s all I ask.”
And you nodded twice with a twinkle in your eye, shouting with joy as pretty Peach stood atop the first-place podium. Your request this time: teach me more.
We went window shopping at the local mall. I wandered into Earthbound behind you as you stood enraptured by crystal nubs and tarot decks with wildly different designs. You picked one out, so I bought it for you; we spent the rest of the night cross-legged on my bedroom floor, my laptop open to BiddyTarot. You laid out cards and told me my future. I tried my best to return the favor, but every card looked like The Lovers to me.
The first night I gave you my bed and slept on the sofa. The second night you asked me to join you. As we laid down to sleep, you poked me on the nose and asked, Can I make a request for your third wish?
“Sure,” I said.
Is it okay if I stay?
I pulled the covers tighter over us and nodded three times. When I woke from my dream, I was alone in my bed, smelling fresh strawberries and French toast for two sizzling in the kitchen.
Magi Sumpter drafts divorce papers by day and eats them with spinach artichoke dip by night. They are the editor-in-chief of Southchild Lit, and you can find her on Twitter @MagiSumpter.