Marianne looked at the thermometer and sighed. “Still feeling under the weather, I see. You’ll need to call in sick again.”
Isaac frowned. “I feel fine.”
“You don’t look fine,” Marianne said. “I can’t remember the last time you were sick. Take one more sick day. It’s what they’re for.”
“Fine,” Isaac said. He collapsed back onto the pillow.
Marianne smiled. “I’m taking Charlie to school and then I’m going to the post office. Do you need anything?”
“No, thank you,” Isaac said.
Marianne patted his shoulder and left the room. A little while later, he heard Charlie yell, “Bye Dad!” The front door slammed.
Isaac called in sick. Then he rolled over and stared at the wall. He was bored already. He kicked off the blankets and wandered down the hall.
He looked in Charlie’s room. Charlie had made a huge blanket fort. Blankets were tied with yarn to his bed and the rod for hanging clothes in the closet and his desk chair. Several blankets were pieced together with safety pins.
“Wow!” Isaac whispered. He crawled inside. He could sit up with room to spare. There were pillows and books grouped around an old turquoise rug. Where did Charlie find that? He stroked the faded rug and left behind a darker stripe of color as he changed the position of the fibers.
Isaac’s grandmother, his Nona, had given him the rug when he was Charlie’s age. Isaac smiled fondly. He lay back on the rug and looked up at the blanket ceiling. There was a paper safety pinned there. In big block letters, it said, “Do you like my tent dad?” Charlie obviously knew him too well.
He started to laugh, which caused him to cough. He continued a weird mix of laughing and coughing until the rug unexpectedly lifted itself, and Isaac too, into the air a few inches. Isaac stopped laughing and coughing and the rug silently popped them both to somewhere else.
The somewhere else was a cave. Torches along the far wall did their best to light the cave, but shadows lurked everywhere. Around the edges of the room, there were piles of things that gleamed in the dim light. In the center of the room there was a pedestal. On the pedestal, there was a small, shiny oil lamp.
Isaac was thrilled. He cautiously rolled up the rug and stuck it under his arm. He listened and looked around the room again. He was alone. Watching where he stepped, he approached the pedestal. Isaac picked up the lamp and rubbed it on his sleeve.
A tall young man appeared next to him. He looked at Isaac and scowled. “Well?”
“Are you a genie?” Isaac asked. He wasn’t dressed like a genie. He looked like a normal teenager.
“Djinni,” the young man said, sounding bored.
“Do you grant wishes?” Isaac asked.
The young man looked at him. “Hmmm. You can have two.”
“Not three?” Isaac asked.
“Inflation,” the young man said.
“Could you take me home?” Isaac asked.
“Yes,” the young man said. He rolled his eyes.
“Please may…I mean, I wish for you to take me home,” Isaac said. Everything blurred around him for a second, and then he found himself in his living room, holding the rug and lamp.
“One more wish,” the young man said.
Isaac looked around. He looked at the djinni that looked like a teenager. “Would you like to be free from the lamp?” he asked.
“Of course I would,” the young man said.
“Then I wish for your freedom,” Isaac said. There was a flash of light and the lamp and young man disappeared. Isaac smiled. He took Nona’s rug back to his room and hid it on the top shelf of his closet.
He took the rug out of the bathroom. It was fluffy and had red and white stripes. It reminded him of candy canes. He arranged it in the blanket fort and then took a pen from the mug on Charlie’s desk.
He wrote, “I love it!” on Charlie’s note and added a smiley face. Then he decided to take a nap. It had been a busy morning, and maybe he was feeling a little under the weather after all.