Isn’t it just something, the way the light sparkles through it? I remember the day Pap brought that jar home, corked tight against a cold driving rain. A sailor down the docks had given it to him for the packet of meat Pap’d just bought in exchange for Mam’s butter money, and wasn’t it fine?
Mam glowered at him, the firelight casting shadows in the hollows of her cheeks. Mam wasn’t a fan of Pap’s deals, and this one was the worst. He was a dreamer, Pap was. He told Mam that this time he was sure his jar was worth every penny twice over of the meat he’d traded, and that we could eat leek and taters for a week until she made more butter to trade.
The glint in her eye was fierce indeed.
Pap was excited, and not much could contain him when he got like that. He told us the sailor said the jar held a djinn and that if we popped the cork on that jar it would shoot out jammering and granting wishes like crazy.
None of us kids were much on imagination, being that hunger will take that from a person quicker than a beating will, but something about Pap this night was infectious. Soon we were shouting out our wishes, how wouldn’t it be wonderful for Mam to have a new dress, and one for the baby too before we buried her, and how Pap could get that pipe back from the pawner. We kept the jar corked while our dreams flew, and our hopes warmed us as the fire died.
The next morning that jar was in the window, shining grand. Mam said we were not to open it, for our needs were not yet great enough for a spirit from the east. So, we used our newfound imaginations, got the baby a dress from the dollmaker’s trash, buried her ourselves in the churchyard near a spindly yew, and set about to making our wishes real on our own.
Mam and Pap and us made do for years without opening the djinn jar. Pap got a job, Mam got too old to have more babies, we bought our own cow and chickens. The need to uncork that jar just about died over time.
The night Pap was pitched over the dock by a storm wave though, was the night we finally picked the jar off the shelf. Mam twisted the cork open, we were eager to wish Pap back, but all that came out was a musty smell.
Djinns, clearly, don’t take kindly to waiting. It was gone, and so then was our Pap.
We grieved, but don’t you know those years of boostrapping had taught us that making your own dreams come true is pretty powerful stuff. We kept that jar to remind us of Pap, and kept on making the best of things.
Nowadays, that djinn jar is full of our family’s dreams. They’re what make it sparkle so.
For the Wordsmiths.