Once upon a time, there was a very unhappy young woman named Mirabel, who was trapped in a very difficult living situation. She had two major personality components that were regularly at war in her worldview. She was a student of philosophy with an abiding interest in ethics, and, at heart, very much a romantic. She would find herself imagining a prince rescuing her from her overbearing siblings and helping her to save her poor father who was trapped. Then she would chastise herself for even thinking of taking advantage of the poor prince that way, when he couldn't possibly know her well enough to love her, nor the obligations that rescuing her father would entail.
Still, she was prone to talking to the birds outside her window, to singing to the mice and cats in the house, and to wishing, idly, to herself, that things might be different. Of course, she knew there was no such thing as magic, and this soothed her self-torture about romantic notions. After all, there was no harm to be had in wishing if there were no way for wishes to come true!
So it was that she was very startled one night when an elegant young woman appeared abruptly in her room, just after she had sent her wishes to get away off to the moon, or wherever unanswered wishes might go.
"Who are you?" As soon as she said it, she mentally kicked herself. She did that a lot. "Oh, don't tell me, you're my fairy godmother." And she sighed.
"Close enough,' said the woman. "I'm a marit, a kind of djinn; you rubbed my lamp tonight while you were cleaning the basement for the 4th time this week. Normally, my lamp is out of reach, but one of your sisters moved a box. You can call me Jinny, if you want"
"Oh. Hmm... Why did you wait so long to appear, then?"
"We're not permitted to let anybody but the person whose wishes we are granting see or hear us. I waited until everybody was asleep."
"I see. Well, it doesn't matter anyway. No wishes for me. It would be wrong. It's wrong even to present me with the option."
"Huh?" The marit sat down in a desk chair, quite perplexed."
"It's wrong. Power corrupts. Wishes are a form of almost pure power, with immense ability to either corrupt or destroy lives. I may be a romantic, but I am *not* an idiot! I've read all the stories and tales and fantasies. I know that inevitably I will screw up, even if I manage to avoid sausage nose or the myriad maladies that befall some wishers.
"Even if I wish to get free of my familial obligations, somehow, all I am doing is forcing things on them as they have on me - and my actions are not justified by theirs. And I know well that any personal profit I seek to gain will come from another, often someone I love. So, I will pass on the wishes, thank you."
Jinny just stared at her.
"Don't you get it? You're not wanted here. Go away."
"Is that a wish?" There was a slightly hopeful tone in Jinny's voice.
"No." There was a coldness in Mirabel's voice that dashed any hope that the spirit might have had.
"But what about your wishes? Can't I do *anything* for you?" It was almost a whine.
In exasperation, Mirabel spoke sharply. "I wish you could understand my point of view!"
A big smile crossed the marit's face. "That's one!" Then the smile disappeared. "Oh," was all she said.
Mirabel started cursing. While it was not her normal mode of discourse, she showed amazing affinity for it, having picked up a lot of juicy expressions from her sisters. It was obvious that her anger was self-targeted, not at Jinny at all.
Hesitantly, Jinny spoke up. "It's clear that you cannot just wish for me to lose the ability to understand, because while giving the understanding to me clearly violated my person - I hadn't given you permission, but neither did I understand enough to have been able to give informed consent - clearly to remove my understanding would be to take away knowledge - both an abuse of power in and of itself, and wrong as a destruction of knowledge in the universe. Boy, you are clearly in one stuck place!"
As she talked, Jinny became more confident.
"You're considering just making me return to the lamp, but are unsure of the consequences of that. Let me assure you that there are none for you - but I know now that this is not enough for you. So, yes, if I go back with ungranted wishes, I will suffer pain every moment from return to my bottle until such time as I finally grant the remaining wish or wishes.
"On the other hand, you are still left with what to do with me, what to do about your sisters, and most especially, to you, about your father."
Mirabel jumped up. "Wait. How do you know about my father? I never said anything about him!"
The spirit grinned. "You wished for me to understand your perspective - you didn't specify this argument. But, fortunately, you didn't insist that I *agree* with your perspective! As it happens, I disagree with pretty much all of your conclusions but one.
"You are bound here to service with your sisters because you cannot see a way to leave that won't also abandon your father, which you will not do. And you do not have the resources alone to take him away from this place.
"You've imagined a prince coming, but didn't actually have any interest in a prince at all - even your dreams won't work.
"And to top it off, now you are stuck with an overly analytical djinn."
Mirabel just nodded, disconsolately.
Jinny continued. "Let's start it in reverse. Yes, you are indeed stuck with one overly analytical djinn. *That* means that you are no longer alone, unless you want to be. Further, your djinn is very capable of helping you to muster the resources when you leave here to take care of yourself and your father, if you let her. Your next wish, then, is to assure yourself that this is what I WANT to do, rather than my doing it out of any obligation.
"And finally, Mirabel, I think you'll find that the two of us can have a lot more fun together than you were ever going to have with some stale old prince!"
And so they did.