*This was a story that was written for entry into the May Storytelling Sessions conducted by Ekari and her team. More about her at http://www.ekariwrites.com or on Facebook @ Ekari Mbvundula – The Writer. This is the unedited version of the story*
When his mother had told him that Father had called him out for a walk Kanu knew it was for something serious. But he didn’t expect Father to reveal his arm.
Father always smiled and even when he did not, he had a joy that was contagious. Kanu knew it wasn’t because of the stuff he owned. If it was father would be that red-faced emoji.
But whenever father said “let’s go for a walk” he got serious and it was time to listen. Kanu expected this on his last night home. But he did not expect this but he eagerly looked on as Father revealed his ever-concealed arm.
The scar was dark, jagged and sunken. It looked like someone had taken a hot iron to his skin and taken it from elbow to wrist. But what was really interesting was the patterns that glowed like broken charcoal embers whenever the moonlight touched the skin.
Kanu gawked for a little bit and naturally brought out his phone. Father snatched it and switched it off. “This is not for social media, Kanu. This is a story between Father and son. Of how a boy becomes a man. About angels, demons, sacrifice, myslef, your mother and your Uncle Terrence.”
“You mean rich uncle Terry?” Kanu said with a scowl. “The one who wouldn’t pay for school, or help out with Grandma, or even help his only twin brother when you struggled?”
“Yes. The same.” Genuinely hurt by the look on his son’s face, Kanu immediately put it away.
“Why do you always protect him? He treats you like you don’t exist.”
“You know how I always tell you to say your prayers and believe that angels watch over you? I think you are old enough to hear why I believe.”
It was on a night like this. A full moon. I was much younger and Terrence and myself were beyond twins, we were friends, if you can imagine that. We stood at the crossroads with the fermented wine and swine bone at our celebrating feet. We couldn’t believe we had summoned a Djinn.
“Don’t you mean a genie?”, Kanu asked.
“That’s what we thought. Three wishes and you are done. We found out that this was different when the suit clad being had us encircled in a seething hot circle made of dancing blue flames. But at one side where the circle should have closed there was another man blocking the only way out.
“Oh. You have more than three wishes, lads.” The Djinn said, “You have an unlimited well of wishes, right here.” He pointed at his chest proudly. “I guess you could call me the man of your dreams.” He looked over at the guy blocking the escape, he gave no acknowledgement of his witty statement.
As long as you have this stone. You can have whatever you like…. At a cost, of course. He said as he touched the dagger sheathed at his waist.
“All you have to do is agree to the three wishes I make of you right now. Negotiable, of course.”
And negotiate we did.
In the middle of that flaming circle the Djinn made his wishes.
The first was easy. He proposed that we give him a 20% cut of all monthly profits we make from then on. We got him down to 10.6% before taxe. We were to place the stone on the earnings and they would get to him.
The second was more sinister. He said whenever we made a wish a relative of ours would have to die. We argued about it for a while. The value of life was the only issue Terrence had with this wish. But one thing made us finally agree. So I said something I am not proud of.
“They took everything away from us when dad died we see no reason why this would be a problem. As long as you agree to leave our mother and sister alone.”
He shook both our hands again and the flames grew hotter, the stone glowed in Terrence’s hand but the other being still stood in the escape.
He made his last wish.
“I want the life of Rita.”
The Djinn looked right at me when he said that. My heart stopped as images of Rita rushed through my head. Her smile. The way she laughed while trying to explain things. The way she cared for mother in ways only a lady could. How long she had been by my side through it all.
“Agreed.” I heard a voice say.
I was shocked at Terrence’s response.
He shook the Djinn’s hand. The Djinn laughed.
“But you both have to agree. After all you are your brother’s keeper.”
Terrence turned to me.
“This is our chance bro. Unlimited wishes for the rest of our lives. We don’t have to live like this anymore. Don’t let one girl get in the way of our success. We can give mum everything she needs and more.
His words bore into my chest. All the possibilities ran though my mind. Unlimited dreams achieved. Success on a silver platter at the cost of his heart. She had been nothing but good to him to the entire family and the only reason I wanted to be a better man.
I smacked away the Djinn’s hand and turned to Terrence.
“Give me the stone!”
Terrence gripped the stone in his fist and brought it to his chest.
The fight that followed was dirty and bloody. Punches were rapidly exchanged to the face. Kicks to the torso. Uppercuts. Blows that floored each one of us in turns. Grappling with each other for what seemed like hours. But I finally stomped on his wrist while he was on the floor, forcing him to let go of the stone.
Just as I was about to toss it into the flaming wall that surrounded us. Terrence pleaded with the Djinn.
“Djinn! Get that stone for me and I will give you more than three wishes. I will give you what you give me limitless wishes as long as I live.”
The Djinn smiled insidiously, stepped over to me with speed that almost seemed like teleportation, grabbed my arm, drew out his dagger.
The blade tore into my arm like it was butter. Both its edges were serrated like a bread knife and the blade made the sound like clattering bones as it vibrated of its own volition. The pain was worse than anything I had ever felt. It was like having a fever and having the breath ripped out of me as he drew the blade down from wrist to elbow.
All I could whisper was, “Help me.”
Then that hand intervened.
The being that had been blocking the escape held the Djinn’s arm stiff from going any further up my arm.
“You know the deal by which you are bound, Djinn.” He said sternly. “You cannot go against free will. You have no right to kill him nor to force him to submit. You can have the other one but this one has chosen the good.”
The Djinn almost seemed sheepish and then smirked. “He still has the stone.”
The being looked at me and sure enough in my bloody hand there was the stone still in my loose grip.
He looked me dead in the eye as he said.
“I know they took everything from you. And that you continued to pray to Our Master and it seemed that He did not hear you. But He has heard you and He has great plans for you. Not just on this earth and not just for a season. There is more to this life than material success and you know this. You know the value of love. You know that the things of value are not the things that are seen.”
Images of Rita flashed in my mind again.
I dropped the stone.
Terrence grabbed the bloody stone and cowered away behind the Djinn.
The being whisked me out of the flaming circle. The last time I saw your Uncle Terrence was on that night with a flaming wall between the two of us and that stone in his hand.
“The angel healed my hand and brought me home but this scar serves as a reminder that there is more to life. I may not be rich. I may not have all the things people desire but I have had peace, comfort and a protection that goes beyond what I can understand.”
He reached out his hand to his son.
“My son. I have nothing to give you. I am not rich. Actually we work extra hard to get by and we have had to deny ourselves of much. But this I give to you and never see it as a weakness.
I offer you the ability to let go. To let go of the hurt others cause you and to trade it for peace. I offer you the ability to let go of the double edged dagger of grudges and revenge and replace it with the shield of faith. I offer you the ability to let go of the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of love. You always have a choice. There is always a way out and I offer you the ability to let go of the easy way and seek the best way.”
The runic writing glowed in the moonlight as Kanu reached out his hand to grasp the hand of the man who had chosen to love, Rita, his mother, over everything that he could dream for himself.
You could almost see the glow transfer from father to son.