Susan squirmed beneath a thick layer of make-up on Oprah’s couch. Her mouth felt dry as a bone and she wasn’t sure what to do with her hands in front of the studio audience. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder as she looked up at the face she’d always admired.
“Are you okay?” Oprah asked quietly, sitting a glass of water her. Susan nodded quickly, grabbing for the water.
“Just nervous.” She said, trying to put on a smile. Oprah patted her shoulder.
“You’ll do fine, don’t worry.” She said, taking her seat as the camera man counted down on his fingers. The audience clapped as the red sign over her head illuminated.
“And we’re back, with Susan DeClaret, author of best-selling book, My Only Wish.” Oprah announced in a cheerful voice.
“Now Susan, I was captivated by your description of Cynthia as she found the genie’s lantern in a thrift store. It was such an intense moment when she rubbed that lamp, desperately hoping for a miracle. Can you describe your thought process in that scene?”
Susan licked her dry lips, rubbing her sweaty palms against her black skirt.
“Well, Oprah, I think everyone knows that feeling some days, where you’re praying for a miracle, knowing just how unlikely it is. Sometimes I feel like I’ve found my own miracle with the success of this book.” The audience laughed appreciatively, Oprah laughing along with them.
“Well Susan, after reading your book, I happened to be walking through a thrift store myself, and you’ll never guess what I found.” Oprah reached into a bag beside her, drawing forth an old oil lamp, resembling the one described in Susan’s book. The audience gave an appreciative gasp. “And well, I thought I just had to bring it along, and see if you can summon a bit of magic here for us.”
The audience tittered as Susan took the magic lamp playfully. “I don’t know Oprah, genies are notoriously shy.” She said, rubbing the lamp to play along. “I’m sure nothing will-“
With a clap of thunder, green smoke began to pour out of the spout of the lamp, roiling up into a great cloud that formed itself into the shape of a man. The man stared down on Susan, who had dropped the lamp and pressed herself into the couch. The audience was in a panic as the genie boomed.
In the calm that followed, the genie’s gaze bore down on Susan, his sapphire boring a hole into her.
“Speak your wish, mortal.” He demanded. Susan stared up, her tongue twisting in her mouth. A wish? For what? Fame and fortune? No, not on live TV, she’d look greedy, and she was already on her way. No, something altruistic. Images of dying crops and starving children bombarded her as she thought of all the wrongs in the world. Her mind raced, finally grabbing at the first thought that came to her. She fumbled the words out of her mouth, too nervous to even speak straight.