It was Dad’s birthday. Lincoln helped Mom with Dad’s birthday cake. He was the one to write happy birthday, Dad in green letters that were only a little bit wobbly. Mom lit the candles and let Lincoln carry the little cake to the table while they all sang happy birthday to Dad.
Amanda and Emma were already sitting at the table. Lincoln put the cake on the table in front of Dad and slid into his chair as they finished the song. “Make a wish, Dad,” Lincoln said.
“All right,” Dad said. He closed his eyes for a moment. Then he took a deep breath and blew out all the candles. Then he disappeared.
“Where did he go?” Amanda asked.
“If he wished himself someplace nice, he should have wished us along too,” Emma said. “It’s not fair.”
“I don’t think he has his phone or his wallet,” Amanda said. “What will he do?”
Mom was looking under the table and behind all the chairs. Lincoln looked up. Maybe Dad would be clinging to the ceiling like Spiderman? Nope. Too bad. That would have been an awesome wish. He’d have to remember that one.
Maybe he wished himself invisible? Lincoln went to check Dad’s chair. He swung his hand through the air and patted the blue seat cushion. Dad wasn’t invisible. His fingers brushed against something smooth and cold. There was a little blue bottle on the seat cushion. It was nearly the same color as the cushion.
Lincoln picked up the bottle. “Did Dad wish to be turned into a bottle?” he asked.
Amanda and Emma stopped talking. Mom stopped checking the cupboards. They all rushed over. “Let me see that,” they all said at once. They reached for the bottle.
Lincoln held the bottle closer. “Wait, not all at once,” he said. “What if it falls and we break Dad into pieces like Humpty Dumpty?”
Every one paused. “Let Mom hold the bottle,” Amanda said. Emma nodded. Lincoln carefully handed the bottle over to Mom.
Mom held the bottle up to the light. “Is it a perfume bottle? It’s rather fancy. I can’t see the inside,” she said. She carefully tried to pull the glass stopper out. It didn’t budge.
“Why would Dad want to be a bottle of perfume?” Emma said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
“Maybe it’s not a perfume bottle. Maybe it’s a magic potion,” Lincoln said.
“Dad might want to have a magic potion, but he wouldn’t want to be a potion,” Amanda said.
“None of this makes sense,” Mom said. “Birthday wishes don’t work like this.”
“Yeah,” Emma said. “I still don’t have my pony.”
“Maybe it’s an especially magical birthday,” Amanda said.
“Well, he’s turning 42,” Mom said. “That is supposed to be an important number.”
“There, see?” Amanda said. “Maybe he forgot and wasn’t careful enough with his wishes.”
“Mom, you got frosting on Dad,” Lincoln said. “Look, now he has green smears. What if that makes the bottle slippery and you drop him?”
“That would be bad,” Mom said. “I’ll wipe him off and put him on the table where he’ll be safer.”
Mom wiped the bottle off with her sleeve. Dad appeared, dressed in an odd sparkly costume. He was floating in the air next to his chair. “Do you have a wish?” he asked.
“I want you back to normal,” Mom said.
There was a popping sound. The bottle disappeared, and dad was sitting in his chair in his regular clothes.
“What just happened?” Amanda asked.
“What did you wish, Dad?” Emma asked.
“I wished I could grant wishes. Then I was stuck in that bottle,” Dad said.
“You were a genie,” Mom said.
“Genies give three wishes,” Lincoln said. “We should have wished for other things before wishing him back. I could have had a new bike.”
“Something could have gone wrong, like in the stories,” Emma said.
“What if he was a genie who only gave one wish?” Amanda asked.
“Someone else could have made a wish,” Lincoln said.
“The bottle could have disappeared to a random new location after the wish,” Amanda said.
“We could have asked him the rules,” Lincoln said. He scowled at Amanda. She glared back.
“I’m just glad to have him back,” Mom said. She gave Dad a hug.
“Me too,” Emma said. She jumped up and hugged both Mom and Dad.
“Me too,” Amanda said. She stood hugged Dad from the other side, wrapping an arm around Emma’s back.
“Me too,” Lincoln said. He hugged Dad’s arm that was hugging Mom.
“I’m glad to be back,” Dad said. They all laughed and finally let go.
They all sat back in their chairs. Lincoln frowned. “Dad, you wasted your birthday wish.”
“I had an adventure, and now I have some yummy cake to share with my family. That’s not so bad,” Dad said.
“I guess you’re right,” Lincoln said. “Did you see the writing on the cake? I did that.”
“I bet it’s extra yummy. I can’t wait to eat it,” Dad said.