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Kalila slipped out of her bottle in a silver mist, poured herself out of the building through gaps in the seal around a door, and drifted into an office park courtyard, where she curled around one of the painted steel spires of a modern sculpture representing the concept of liberty. Or perhaps it was just a rat. Even the humans themselves weren’t sure, and Kalila had no desire to try to figure it out. The sun had warmed the red-lacquered steel and she settled into a comfortable position so she could think.
Sunday brunch with Ricky and his mother. There were so many things wrong with the idea that it would’ve hurt her head to think about it, had she been in human form. For starters, she didn’t care for human food, although she could tolerate it if she had to. But this “meeting Mom” thing was another matter. Although she wasn’t sure of the precise social ramifications, she suspected it would be taken as a sign that she was a girlfriend of sorts, and that simply wouldn’t do.
For Ricky to have suggested it at all was an outrage. She should find him and give him a piece of her mind; make him abandon the ridiculous notion by force if she had to. There was a time not so long ago when she would’ve done just that, but something made her balk, and this new indecisiveness worried her. That she cared what a human might think was puzzle enough, but not wanting to disappoint Ricky was downright un-djinn-like.
She sighed and drifted over backward, elongating herself like a rope and swaying back and forth on the breeze while she tried to bring her scattered thoughts to order. One didn’t spend over two thousand years knocking around the planet without learning how to handle a situation or two. The correct thing would be to track Ricky down and punish him. Severely. The problem was that she wasn’t angry. Instead, she felt oddly excited. No one had ever invited her to meet their mother before. She shouldn’t care, of course, since it was just another human, but the strange feeling of pleasure persisted and she gradually stopped her swinging to contemplate it for a bit.
The twittering of a group of sparrows tussling over a bit of trash brought her back to her senses. Djinns didn’t get emotional. She gathered herself together and slid down the sculpture, drifting past the birds without their noticing. When she reached a service door hidden from view by hedges, she conjured herself into human form, comfortably dressed in jeans, boots, and a natty black jacket. Then she went to the sidewalk and mentally summoned a cab. She would go to Ricky and explain. No brunch. It was simply impossible. Or if she did go, it would have to be a very short brunch, at someplace expensive that served mimosas. And no matter what, he couldn’t introduce her as his girlfriend. Not now, not ever.
A djinn might find humans acceptable company from time to time, but one had to draw the line somewhere.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you enjoyed this story, you can now buy the book in print and Kindle versions from Amazon and e-book format from Fictionwise!.