Friday 29 May 2020

Holly and the Jinn

by Mason Bushell

Earl grey tea

Evening service was due to start within the Workhouse Restaurant. Holly Ward took a breath, tightened her glossy black ponytail and focused on the space around her. A few students from the college were dining at the teak tables by the brown-framed windows. Holly smiled at a group of boys who were chatting about her, among other things. That was nothing new for her, she always just smiled or laughed off the attention. Pausing at the hostess stand she printed a dinner check. With it on a Workhouse diamond saucer baring mints, she took it to a couple of girls in the bar corner.
“Here we are. That’s twenty-one-pounds-thirty, please.”
“Thanks, those Workhouse Burgers are so good,” said one of the ladies looking to her blonde friend. “Harmony, are you sure you’re okay paying for everything?”  
“I told you, it was my treat, Amy. Had you not helped me get rid of that slime ball Terry at Halloween, I’d still be miserable and we wouldn’t be friends.” Harmony handed Holly some money. “Thanks, that was a delicious meal.”
“I’m glad, you enjoyed everything. Let me fetch you some change.” Holly beamed and swiftly went to the till to cash out the order. Coming back, she found the girls stood and ready to leave. “Here’s your change. Thank you for coming, and we hope to see you again soon.”
“Thanks, we’ll definitely be back soon.” Amy smiled. “Right, Harmony lets go and see the film next, shall we?”
Holly set about cleaning the table, “Have a good evening, ladies.” she called while polishing the diamond embossed surface. Straightening, her eye caught the light glinting off an object. A large silver coin lay on the seat Amy had been occupying. Holly took it into her fingers and looked for the girls. They were already gone. “Better, put this in the lost property then, I guess,” she said to herself. It was then piano music emanated from the stage. Holly gave pianist Tom Bowman a cheery wave and headed for the bar.
“Hello Holly. I’m really sorry, I’m late. I got held up in my damned lecture.” Waitress Tierney Williams had come out from the back looking immaculate in her chocolate brown Workhouse apron over black blouse and trousers. She looked a little flustered and strained from being late.
“Hello, Tee. Its no problem. Thanks for calling to let me know, though. Everyone’s fed and happy in here, so don’t worry, okay?” Holly gave her shoulder a squeeze.
“Thanks, Holly. I’ll get us ready for service.”
“Great, I’m going to fill out a lost property form, then I’m coming back to steal that cute dove hairclip you’re wearing.” Holly really did think the white bird clip looked stunning in her friend’s chestnut ponytailed hair.
“Then I’ll be keeping my eye on you.” Tierney narrowed her eyes. Both girls were giggling as they parted.

Holly shot into the office for the form and decided to have some tea whilst filling it in. She entered the staff lounge and made herself a cup of Earl Grey. The Ward family ladies, rarely drank anything else as was tradition. Sitting at the little round table, she flicked the coin on to the surface with the form. As it settled, she noticed it was etched with a horned demon surrounded with flames.
“So, what are you?” Holly picked out the inscription around the demon. “Evocatus illuc auxilium. Excitandum ditans guttura. Largítor votum meum et vocavi te.”
“Pardon?” said a deep, rich voice.
Holly looked up and smiled at the restaurants Congolese bartender stood in the doorway. “Hello, Masego. That’s Latin. If I remember my granddad’s teachings, it means: Summoned to help. Evoked to empower. Wish granter, I summon thee… So, this must be a talisman.”
“Be careful then. You might summon a demon.” Masego winked and left with a chuckle.

Holly started filling in the form, never realising the kitchenette counter was glowing orange behind her. The splintering crash of a mug slamming into the floor, followed by a volley of swearing caused her to flinch in fright.
“That’s it, go on obliterate everything, Jinni! You’re supposed to help people when they summon you, not cost them a fortune.” Came a low female voice.
“Ahh, shut up, Doris,” answered a deeper male voice.
Holly jumped off her chair and found her feet surrounded by the remains of a broken mug. She focused on the coffee machine and felt her mouth drop open. There stood a five-inch tall man. He was wearing smart black shorts and sunglasses shaped like a bowtie. The rest of his bare body was fiery red and granite-like with muscles.
“Sorry about the mug. Anyway, you summoned me?”
“Of course, she did. Nobody else could have.”
The waitress looked for the owner of the shrill voice and discovered an overweight fairy with grey hair. She stood no taller than the red-skinned man. She was wearing a daisy patterned dress and a displeased scowl.
“Doris, darling. I told you, that talisman summons me all over the place. That means, I have to check that I found my summoner to prevent me from granting wishes to the wrong people and getting trapped on Earth.” The Jinn sighed and looked up at Holly who was now stood shaking in shock while absently smoothing her ponytail. “Sorry about this. Doris was holding my hand when you summoned me.”
“Its- It’s okay. I…” Holly thought she was an intelligent girl. Seeing these two little fantastical beings in the staff lounge, had her feeling otherwise. Logic told her that either they were real, or she was going insane. “Erm, so the talisman summoned you, right?”
“Yeah, that’s it, girl. You summoned my Jinni using that talisman. Now you have to tell him what you want, so we can go home,” Doris answered.
“Thank you, Doris. I’m quite capable of doing my job.” The Jinn rolled his eyes as he began causing the mug remnants to levitate and glue themselves back together.  
“Well. do it then!” The fairy folded her arms and nodded up at the waitress. “I don’t know about human men but Jinn’s are lazy boars, you know that?”
Holly giggled at the grumpy fairy. “Aw, I bet Jinni does a lot more than you realise.”
“Huh, you’re supposed to be on my side as a fellow female.”
“Sorry, I—”
“It’s alright, dear. Jinni makes me mad, that’s all. For example, I have to ask him a thousand times to do the laundry.”
“But I have six pairs of shorts in the basket to your fifty-two dresses. It’s hardly fair.” The Jinn set the repaired mug on the counter, then slapped his hips with his hands in frustration.
“Don’t you start with the fairness bit, Jinni. I—”
“Hey, that’s enough! Both of you hush.” Holly gave them both a stern look. “Let’s not argue and be friends, please.”
“Thank you.” The Jinn gave Doris a cheeky smile. “So, have you decided what I can do for you?”
“Yes, you must have wanted something when you summoned him. Or he wouldn’t have come,” Doris added.
Holly looked at the strange couple on the counter and shook her head. “I don’t want anything, thank you.”  
“There must be something you want.” The Jinn glanced up at Holly while scratching his chin. “You’re a waitress. How’s about help getting a better job?”
“No, I love working here for my mum, and with my team of friends. We’re like a happy successful family, here.”
“Well, that’s lovely. How about a hunky boyfriend? Jinni, might be able to help with that.” Doris gave a hopeful flutter of her eyebrows.
“Nope, I’m very happy with my darling footballer, Sam. thank you.” Holly couldn’t help a smile as she thought about him.
“Did I hear my name?” answered a voice edged with huskiness.
Holly felt arms come around and hug her from behind. “Hey, Sam. You did. Are you okay?” she asked as she turned her head to share a kiss with him.
“Hmm. My training went well, thank you, my precious. Who were you talking taah!” Samuel yelped having seen the Jinn and fairy on the counter. “Are they… What are… What's going on?” 
“Ooh, he is rather cute and handsome in a sporty way, isn’t he?” Doris made kissy lips toward the footballer.
Holly narrowed her eyes at the fairy but never got to retort.
“And I’m not, I suppose.” The Jinn struck a muscular pose.
Doris rolled her eyes at him. “You’re so muscly, it’s like jumping into bed with a wall.”
“I can’t believe you just said that. I—”
“Jinn, Doris, stop arguing, please!” Holly groaned. Although the feeling of Samuel smoothing her silky ponytail left her relaxed and content. “I think were safe, Sam. I apparently summoned these two by reading that talisman on the table.”
“Really? They don’t get on well, do they?” Samuel remarked. 
“Like two hurricanes fighting over ownership of the Florida Keys.” Holly giggled and nestled close to her footballer. “I’m glad we don’t have that problem.”
“Me too, I love how we can talk about things.” Samuel looked to the Jinn. “You should adopt that philosophy, both of you.”
“We’ve been trying, believe me.” The Jinn grinned and snapped his fingers. “She doesn’t wish for anything. Do you want something?”
Samuel made a musing noise. “I know- the flower shop was shut. Can you magic Holly some flowers, for me?”
“Sure, which kind? Marigolds…” the Jinn made an orange bloom appear before him.
“Yeah, there's a pair of those under the sink. You can do the dishes with them, when we get home,” Doris ordered.
“Whatever, darling.” The Jinn pulled a face and sighed. “Where were we… ah, maybe you liked some, chrysanthemums, peonies or sunflowers.” The Jinn made each appear as he named it. “Perhaps some anemones, daisies or caedes flowers —ow!”
Doris had slapped him for conjuring the vicious toothy-looking black flower. “Idiot! He wants to profess his love to Holly, not have her eaten by a carnivorous plant!”
Holly saw the fearsome plant lick its petals before the Jinn vanished it.
“Sorry! I was having a little fun with that one,” he said. “What about these?” The Jinn waved his hands and made some stunning Asiatic lilies.
Holly sneezed violently. Less than a second later she sneezed again.
“Jinn, get them gone quick!” Samuel demanded having grabbed some kitchen roll for her.
“Whoops, allergies. My apologies.” The Jinn vanished the lilies with a guilty look at Holly, who looked most uncomfortable just then.
“It’s okay, you didn’t know about my silly nose.” Holly said nasally as she took the tissue and blew her nose.
“I’m still sorry. Right, Sam. Try these.” The Jinn conjured a bouquet of beautiful red and pink roses.
“Those are perfect.” Samuel took them out of the air. “A magical bouquet for the enchanted lady who holds my heart.”
“Aw, thank you, sweetheart.” Holly accepted them and brushed her nose against his as they shared a kiss.
“Ahh, so romantic.” Doris knitted her fingers before her. Looking to the Jinn her enamoured look vanished. “Why don’t I get roses like that, huh?”
The Jinn created a matching smaller bouquet. “There you go darling.”
“Aw, thank you, Jinni.” The fairy dived on and assaulted him with kisses.
“Bloody hell, woman. I knew there was a reason why I didn’t get you flowers.” The Jinn shook free and smiled at her. “You are welcome though.”
“That’s much better you two.” Holly smiled at them.
“Thanks. The Jinn looked at himself. He wasn’t glowing. “You have to wish for something or I can’t go home.”  
   “I can’t.” Holly moved to put her roses in a vase. “I don’t want anything. What do you wish for Jinn?”
The Jinn sucked in a breath and blinked at her. “Who me? Nobody, ever asked me that before. Hmm…” The Jinn glanced at Doris who was looking expectant, then at Holly who nodded; urging him to say something. “I’d like a week with no summonses, that I can spend in Fairy Wonderland with my darling Doris.”
“Aww, that’s sweet.” Holly beamed.
“Would you really do that?” Doris gave the Jinn an interrogating look.
“If I could, yes,” The Jinn put an arm around her. “Seriously, Holly. I need a wish from you.”
“Okay, I wish for an apple custard Danish pastry for Sam. Some millionaire’s shortbread, for me….” Holly put her roses on the table and hugged Samuel again. “And a free week in Fairy Wonderland for you.”
“Fantastic! Consider it done.” The Jinn took Doris by the hand and snapped his fingers. “Thanks for the freedom, goodbye my friends,” he said as he and Doris glowed red and vanished in a cloud of glitter. A pair of thuds on the table caught Holly’s attention. There waiting for her were two huge plates; one loaded with Danish pastries, the other stacked with millionaire’s shortbread.
“Hmm, snack time,” she said.
“I think my football trainer is about to get annoyed with me.” Samuel gave Holly’s ribs a tickle making her squeal, then danced away from her. He picked up a Danish and bit into it. “Hmm, thanks for wishing for these.”
“My pleasure, sweetheart.” Holly tried a shortbread. “Wow, these are delicious.”

That evening Holly was driving her and Samuel home in her sky-blue and black trimmed Mini Cooper. She pulled over by the park.
“Why are we stopping?” Samuel asked.
“I have to pass this talisman on. I realise that the girl didn’t lose it. Magic coins like this, never stay with one owner.” Holly climbed from the car and entered the dark park beneath the velvety starscape, holding her footballer’s hand.
“Shouldn’t you try to keep it. I mean to be able to summon a Jinn and make wishes is a great tool, isn’t it?” Samuel looked at Holly in her Workhouse uniform. He’d fallen in love with her wearing that in this very park a couple of years ago.
“It sure is.” Holly lead him to the wishing fountain in the centre of the park. She glanced at all the pennies reflected in the lights beneath the shimmery water and smiled. “Yes, this is where is needs to go.”
“You sure? What if you need more millionaire’s shortbread and Danish though? What if you need the Jinn for something else?”
“I don't need the Jinn, Sam. I have my family, my friends, a lovely restaurant and most of all, you, sweetheart.” Holly turned her back, closed her eyes and flipped the coin over her shoulder. It splashed into the water behind her. “I dont wish for or need anything else to be happy.” she added while watching the coin sink through the rippling water of the fountain.
“Hmm, so long as I have you, I’ll always be happy too.” Samuel wrapped her in his arms. “You did wish for something before throwing the coin though, didn’t you?”
“I did. I wished for the coin to find its way to somebody who really deserves and needs it.” Holly felt truly content as she returned to her car and drove them home that evening. As for the talisman. We’ll soon see where it ends up next. You will join the Jinn to find out, wont you?

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