She rolled her eyes as another one of her cabin mates tried to stifle sobs. She couldn’t believe she had to stay at this horrible camp all summer! Her stomach growled. As she stepped toward her trunk for a forbidden snack, she tripped on a loose board. Curious, she leaned over to peek between the cracks, and saw…

(Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.)

Laila rolled her eyes as her cabin mate choked on stifled sobs. She couldn’t believe she had stayed at this horrible camp all summer! As she stepped toward her trunk for a forbidden snack, she tripped on a loose board. Curious, she peeked between the cracks, and saw an old bottle of wine and a small scroll tied with a ribbon and fixed with a wax seal. On the ribbon was printed simply, “For the Unfortunate.”

Laila opened the scroll and read it. She could feel her face flush as the meaning of the words sunk in. It was too good to be true.

“What is it?” asked her bunk mate, wiping the tears from her face.

“I don’t know. Just a piece of garbage, I guess.” Laila tucked the scroll into her pocket and thought, For the Unfortunate…that definitely fits me right now!

“Why are you crying, anyway? It’s the last night. Tomorrow we get sent out”

“I don’t want to be a Genie,” the girl stated simply.

“Who does?” Laila pulled out the bottle of wine. “So…should we at least have a little fun on our last night?”

“Oh, I couldn’t…”

“Really? Come on, Amala, let’s toast our departure!” Laila said, popping the cork on the wine and inhaling deeply. “I think this is some pretty good stuff and we never really did get to know one another.”

Laila handed a glass to Amala before plopping down on the foot of her bed.

“How did you end up here?” asked Amala.

“Love,” said Laila.

“Not a…”

“Yep. A mortal. Jack, and he’s perfect. We’d sneak off late at night and meet down by the shore. Sometimes we’d just sit on the beach and talk and sometimes we’d go diving for pearls. Once, we even kissed under the water next to an old sunken fishing boat that always has clams around it.”

Amala cut in.

“Certainly you could find someone more suitable. You’re so beautiful! Are you skilled?”

“Yes, I can fling a spell or two. More than that actually, but I don’t like it. I just want Jack and if that means no magic, then I would take it. He’s just…a good man. What about you? What are you in for?”

“Being a disappointment,” Amala said.

“Harsh. I mean, Genie camp is for delinquents like me. Screw up too many times and you’re on the bus to Lamp Camp. Then we get trained as Genies, locked up in a tiny lamp condo and hidden somewhere out in the world just so a mortal can find us and make us his personal magic slave. I get why I’m here, but not you.”

Laila filled Amala’s cup again and smiled at her. She noted that Amala’s eyes were quite pretty even if the rest of her was a bit lumpy.

“I’m not good at magic. I’m not beautiful like you and…” Amala reached up and took the clip off of her hair, letting it fall down her shoulders. Amongst the typical silky black hair of their kind were streaks of strawberry red.”

“Amala…,” said Laila. “It’s beautiful!”

“No it’s not! It’s different…and therefore forbidden in my parents’ eyes. I’ll be sent somewhere where my lamp will never be found, and if it is, look at me! No man is going to want me near him, even if I can grant a couple of minor wishes.”

“Not all men are like that…” Laila didn’t know what to say. Jack would find her.

Laila finished her cup and stood up. She had faith in Jack and she could do this. She needed to do this.

“Amala, I have a gift for you.”

She held out the scroll and watched as Amala took in the words and then slowly, the meaning.

“Is this real? I could actually do this?”

Laila nodded.

“Yes. With that spell, you can direct your sending, your lamp, to any specific spot on Earth. You won’t go to an ice cave in the artic. You can be sent near family or friends or wherever you’ve dreamed of going!”

“Why give this to me? What about you? The spell says it can only work once.”

“Jack will find me. I know it. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be okay. I’m…”

“Beautiful and talented” said Amala, “You’re right. Thank you.”

The pair hugged and then cried themselves to sleep.

The next morning a chorus of bells rang out through the camp. The sound was beautiful but haunting as it called the camp residents to their final gathering.

One by one, they stood on the stage, received their lamp, said the magic words and poured into their new homes in a stream of smoke. Then, the camp director would close his eyes, say a few final words and, with a flicker of light, they were gone.

Laila chewed her bottom lip nervously as her turn arose, but moments later it was smoke and then light and she and her lamp settled in a bank of ferns deep in the Amazon jungle.

Amala stepped up to the stage, said the right words and streamed into her lamp. Once inside, she muttered her newest spell. A gift. Such a rare gift. A flash of light popped and, with a splash, Amala’s lamp sunk slowly into the water, past a small, sunken fishing boat, and settled in among a treasure of clams.