Funny stories in under 500 words.

Three Wishes

Paige sat at his computer, making no progress. He stretched and got up. In the kitchen he grabbed some chips and opened a jar of cheese dip. Along with the gasp of the vacuum-packed seal breaking, a stream of gold sparkles and purple pixie dust arced out of the jar, coalescing into a genie.

With a big smile and swinging her arms like a Vegas lounge act, the genie sang:

Tables, chairs, and dirty dishes

Today's the day you get three wishes

Paige said nothing. He peered into the jar of cheese. He sniffed. It smelled fine.

The genie explained, "Hi, I'm a genie. But you can call me, Jeanie."

Paige stared, but remained silent.

Jeanie tried again. "Yes, I'm a genie. And you," she pointed at Paige for emphasis, "get three wishes. Anything at all. Wealth, power, or" - in a deeper voice - "love," and she winked.

Paige shook his head. "Look, I've heard enough genie fairy tales to know that this never works out for the wisher. You guys always take the wish literally or interpret it in a way no rational person would ever consider. If I say I want a larger penis, you'll send me one in the mail. If I say no, I want it attached, you'll put it on my forehead. If I say no, I want it attached down here, you'll attach it, but leave the original. And then I have a problem, because I'm out of wishes.

"You're not fooling anyone. We all know this is just a parable to chronicle man's insatiable greed. The game is rigged. Nobody ever gets what they want. The best possible outcome is that by wish number two things have gone so far off the rails that the obvious choice for wish three is to set everything back the way it was. However it plays out, the only sure result is a chastened human and a smug genie."

Jeanie responded, but the chirpiness was gone. "You're right. Everything you said is true. But I don't do this for fun. It's a job and I have quarterly targets to meet. If I don't teach a human a lesson, or endanger him, I get docked. Can't you just play along? Ask for one or two small things, then like you said, we'll set it all straight at the end."

Paige rolled his eyes and went back to work. Dejected, and unsure what to do, Jeanie watched him type, click, and drag.

Paige appeared productive, but the mutterings and obscenities under his breath increased in frequency and volume. Exasperated, his irritation carried him through a mouse-click he didn't mean to make. He stopped, and looked at Jeanie. She shrugged and raised her arm. "Close enough. And, thanks."

Paige turned back to the monitor in disbelief. The screen had already reset, but the message was seared into Paige's memory and he read it one last time before he departed:

Are you sure you wish to permanently delete this page?

This story was written by Todd Wells, father of three and husband of one, Todd Wells runs marathons, hosts international visitors through US Department of State exchange programs, and enjoys standing in line for airport security at Midway and O'Hare. He writes about all of those things at


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