Genie Lamps and Bridges

He’s 6 years old. For the first time in his life, he’s seen R rated movies, two horror films back to back on the same night. Now, laying in his bed…

Dear Lord, I pray that you won’t let Chucky stab me in my sleep. And I pray that arachnophobias won’t crawl on me. Amen

He sleeps on his back for 2 years. He won’t sleep facing the door because he’s afraid Chucky will walk into his room. He won’t sleep facing the wall because he’s afraid spiders will crawl up and bite him. So he sleeps on his back, like a stiff board facing the only safe space, up, toward the top bunk where his little sister sleeps like an angel.

He’s 8 years old and his prayers have become selfless.

Dear God, please let my mom and my dad and my sister and my grandma live to be 150 years old. And I pray that you let me live to 100. Amen.

He doesn’t dare ask for more than 150. He knows he’s pushing it already and he doesn’t want to make God impatient. I mean, he doesn’t want to seem greedy because greed is a sin and he wants to make sure that his prayers are answered.

He’s 16 years old. He begins to covet and feel remorse.

Dear God, help me focus on my school work so I can get into a good college. Help me to get an A on tomorrow’s calculus test. And please forgive me for that one thing I did. You saw it. I’m sorry. Amen.

At 16, we’re a bit short-sighted, our ambitions included.

He’s 24 years old. He’s standing on a bridge and his lungs struggle to keep up with the sharp intakes of cold night air pouring into him like fire. He begins to compromise.

Whatever she has, put it into me. I’ll take it. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. I want it. Don’t let her suffer. Put it into me.

Soon he finds that it’s gone out of her. The color returns to her skin and she begins to gain the weight back. He’s left to wonder if his prayer led to a miracle. Then he became terrified of God. No Chucky doll or spider had killed him in his sleep. He got an A on that calculus test (actually A-) and his mom and his dad and his sister, now even his grandmother, were well on their way to 150. And the last one…she was better, it was gone, what did this mean for him?

Wishes and prayers, genie lamps and bridges. In one, you ask for what you want. In the other, you do the exact opposite.

And he remains terrified.


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