I wrote an Aladdin story! And no, that is the fairy tale Aladdin, not the movie Aladdin, which, from my understanding, is pretty different. (I’ve somehow lived my life without watching the Aladdin movie, which is something I need to fix as soon as possible.) Fairy Tale Central is covering this fairy tale this month, and Arielle posted this prompt on her personal blog:
Rereading the fairy tale, I realized that the princess seriously goes through a lot. First Aladdin magically wrecks her marriage (yes, she was very briefly married), then she gets kidnapped by an evil magician, and seriously, so many bad things happen to her. I also realized that Aladdin and I don’t exactly get along. I do love his larger-than-life attitude, but…he magically wrecks her marriage. He does all these things and never seems to think about the consequences or how that will affect people, and he never seems to get any consequences, either. And my question was, ‘How easy would someone like Aladdin actually be to live with?’ And that was what inspired this story. It’s a bit of a sequel to the original fairy tale, I guess.
I’ve actually been avoiding writing non-novel related things lately, because I used to have the worst problem with switching stories mid-way through and never getting back to the story I was working on originally, and I was afraid of that happening, especially since I’ve been having trouble with my novel lately. But I think working on this short story helped me! I feel a little more confident with my characterization now, and more ready to get back to work on my novel.
And of course, the obligatory Pinterest board, because apparently I need one for a seven page story…
One last thing: ‘Jinni’ is the exact same thing as ‘genie’, just spelled in a different way. ‘Genie’ is the exact same thing as ‘jinn,’ except ‘jinn’ is the plural of the word. So hopefully that clears up any confusion. That could have been something everyone knew except me, but I didn’t know it until I started getting into The Arabian Nights at age fifteen and read the wiki article on jinn. So.
One last last thing: Plagiarism is absolutely not okay, do not steal, etc. It’s not nice. Though that is assuming anyone would want to steal this story XD
Sepideh sat on the balcony overlooking the garden, turning a lamp around in her hands. It was sunset, with a wash of red and gold in the sky, and a gold hue cast over the garden. The warm evening wind rustled the leaves of the orange tree and lulled her into a tired stupor. She had stolen the lamp in a kind of furtive desperation. Aladdin was not home, and thus could not walk in on her out here. She was alone.
This is not a good idea, the one still-sane part of her brain whispered as she rubbed the lamp. It was an ugly, rusted, tiny oil lamp that did not look at all magical. But she knew better. “Jinni,” she whispered. She had seen Aladdin do this before, when he thought she wasn’t looking. “Jinni, I am unhappy.” He did this, too, crooning to it as he polished the lamp, and she mimicked him almost without realizing it.
A trail of fire leaked out of the mouth of the lamp and snaked through the air, forming a body. The jinni looked like a human woman, but…it was so wrong. Her skin had a greyish undertone to it, and her hair was dried out, and she looked like she had died in a cave. But that was not what made Sepideh stare. It was her eyes. There was something ancient and savage to them, and Sepideh could not look away.
This was not her true form. Her true form was probably even stranger, even more great and terrible. Sepideh could not fathom something more great and terrible than those eyes.
“You are not Aladdin,” the jinni said, stating the obvious. Sepideh said nothing, staring at her face. The jinni waited for a while and got no response. “What I meant was, would you explain why I am here?” she demanded. Sepideh jumped. She straightened her shoulders and swallowed hard, but she still found her face so hard to look at. Why had she expected a jinni to look human?
“I—” Her voice did not come out at full volume. She swallowed. She—she couldn’t. She was faced with the solution to her problems, and she couldn’t reach out and grab it. She was afraid. Maybe being afraid was rational, and a solution involving magic and a jinni had been a horrible idea in the first place. But all she could think was, bloody coward. “It was an accident,” she whispered. She’d just give the lamp back to Aladdin when he got home, and he’d tease her a bit and not ask why. And they’d never speak of it again. “I was polishing the lamp. I’m sorry.” She reached for the lamp, but the jinni pushed it away with her foot. It fell over, clanging against the floor.
“No,” she said loudly. She gripped Sepideh’s shoulder, her claws pricking her. Sepideh’s shoulders went rigid, but she didn’t pull away. Her face. She was not human at all. “You’re lying. Who are you?” Her voice was too loud, too hoarse.
This had been such a stupid decision. What did she know of dealing with jinn? “I am Aladdin’s wife,” she said, her voice shaking a little. “Who are you?”
The jinni’s eyes widened, and she let go of her shoulder and sat down on the floor with a practiced flop. She leaned back on her elbow and crossed one leg over the other. She was a muscular, hardened-looking woman, and she had the confidence of an empress. “Did you just ask for my name?” she asked, her voice a little disbelieving.
“I—I’m sorry—” Sepideh said, unsure what her point was but apologizing anyway.
She held up a hand. Her hands looked like bird-feet, withered and bony, with long claws on the ends of her fingers. “Don’t,” she said. “I was only commenting on the fact that it is unusual among selfish adventurers, who are usually the sorts of people to find my lamp. My name is Roshanak. Do go on with what you were saying.” Was ‘selfish adventurer’ an insult to Aladdin? Or was she overthinking?
“I…I’m not happy,” she said. She swallowed. She had already said this. Roshanak nodded, her eyes shut, and waved at her to continue. “I married the vizier’s son, and I wasn’t happy then. But at least I understood why I had to. Behnam and I had been expected to marry each other, ever since we were children. It was something I knew would happen eventually. And then Aladdin shows up and en—enchants him—” She paused. “And Behnam calls off the marriage and Aladdin dances away with a palace and a princess. And…I’ve never loved him a day in my life.” She said the last sentence in a rushed, quiet voice.
“I sympathize,” she said, waving her hand again. “Go on.”
Sepideh looked up at her. “That was all I had to say,” she said, her brow furrowed.
Roshanak tilted her head back and sighed. “Nothing else?” Roshanak asked. Her claws drummed on the blue floor tiles, making a clitter-clatter noise. “Do you want your problems solved? Because if you’re hoping I can make Aladdin think of someone other than himself for once, the answer is no. I can make palaces, but I can’t change anyone’s heart.”
That had been what she was hoping. That Roshanak could make them fall in love, or that she could make Aladdin think of someone besides himself or his mother. Or something. Anything would have been nice, really.
“Oh,” she said quietly. “I should have known. Thank you.” She swallowed. “Do you—do you think I could run away?” she mumbled. She’d never have asked this question to anyone except a jinni. She was a bit surprised at herself for having asked that question to a jinni.
She’d been wondering this for the past year, looking out at the garden wall and wishing. But she knew nothing would ever come of it. It didn’t matter how many jinn she asked for advice. It wouldn’t change the fact that she was such a coward. “I don’t think he’d understand if I asked for a divorce.” Roshanak snorted, probably because it was a ridiculous understatement. Aladdin had never even realized she was unhappy. Aladdin was remarkably good at not noticing things he didn’t want to.
“You could,” she said, sitting up. “But dear, don’t you know the old saying? If you are saved from the lion, don’t be greedy and hunt it. And both poverty and adventure are worse than lions.” She looked down at her claws, looking remarkably pleased with herself for summing that up. “Consider yourself blessed that you’ve never had to experience them…well, one of them,” she amended. Sepideh had already had an adventure. But she had never called it that. Sepideh called it a horrible and traumatic time.
Roshanak laid her hands in her lap. Would Roshanak have ever experienced poverty or adventure? Had she lived her whole life inside the lamp, or had she actually gone through those things? Either way, her attitude was unbearable.
Sepideh’s hands clenched into a soft fist in her lap. She just—that was the equivalent of giving her a nice pat on the shoulder and telling her to have a good day. A jinni was apparently no different from everyone else. “But jinni,” she said. She was barely aware of what she was saying. “Don’t you know the saying, ‘if a wind blows, ride it’? Are you incapable of being my wind? Or simply unwilling?” Her hands were shaking. As if she couldn’t do it. Well, Roshanak could watch her. Why had she expected Roshanak to tell her anything different from all the other people she’d asked help from?
A flock of white birds flew out of the tree next to the balcony, their wings beating a harsh drumbeat against the wind. Roshanak sat up, eyeing her appreciatively. “I am not necessarily incapable or unwilling.” She watched her. “Anger suits you,” she mused. “You should be angry more often.” Sepideh didn’t know what to say to that. “It isn’t as if you’re inept,” she added. “You’ve been kidnapped and you killed a man, and I’m sure you can handle other things.” Sepideh flinched a little at the memory. There was an ugly side of her, a side she didn’t want to face, a side of her that had been vengeful and satisfied when a man’s eyes went empty. She hated being reminded of that. “That was very nicely done, I might add.” Roshanak’s voice was cheerful. Sepideh blinked at the ground, hard. So a jinni approved of her murdering skills. How…gratifying.
“That’s true,” she said quietly. “I’ve had that kind of adventure.”
“I was only pointing out that you might find it a little harder to do it on your own than you might think.” Roshanak leaned back again, looking out toward the sunset. “But I like you,” she said, with the air of someone making a generous concession. “You’re the first to ask my name in a while. I can’t change Aladdin’s heart. But I can make you a palace. Didn’t I say that?” She didn’t exactly smile, but her eyes crinkled.
This conversation had…Sepideh had lost track of this conversation. That didn’t usually happen to her. “What?” she asked, her head coming up.
Roshanak waved her hand at her again, more emphatically this time. “I said to ask for something! Make a wish! Come on! Make it crazy and stupid and fun!” Sepideh took a deep breath. That was a sudden change in attitude.
Sepideh had dreamed and dreamed of one thing until it became an almost obsessive thought, and then she got married and dreamed of it more.
She could not bear others’ company anymore. She could not bear Aladdin, who tricked her husband into a divorce, she could not bear her father, who put her in that situation to begin with, and the only person she had ever sort of loved was her mother, and she was beginning to not be able to bear her, either. And she had no other friends, people who would listen without judging or being bored. And so her dream was to be alone. Completely and utterly alone.
This is a horrible decision and how do you even know she has your best interests at heart, a small part of her screamed. But she looked into those savage, sharp eyes and forgot all common sense. “Then I want a palace,” she said, her voice soft and flat. The cold floor pressed into her ankles. “I want a palace in the middle of the desert where no one ever comes. And I want big, grand gardens and fountains wherever you turn, and I want to live there alone, with no one to hurt me or misunderstand me. Is that too much to ask?”
“It’s not too much to ask,” Roshanak said. “If you’re sure you want it. But you wouldn’t ask if you weren’t sure.” She said that with a breezy confidence Sepideh did not share. Sepideh was not entirely sure she wouldn’t scream at herself in the morning.
“I suppose I wouldn’t,” she said softly. “And…is there anything you want?” She did not know what she could do for an immortal. But she asked anyway. She hated owing people, and she didn’t particularly want to be in debt to one of the jinn. And she would be in debt, and she wouldn’t be surprised if Roshanak knew it.
The jinni stared at her. Sepideh breathed out a little. Well, she hadn’t thought the offer would come to… “Anything I want what?” Roshanak asked blankly.
“Anything…I could do for you,” she said. What was so confusing about that?
“Child,” she said. “You’re the first person to ask me that in five centuries.” That put Sepideh’s problems in perspective a little. Roshanak snapped her fingers at her, making her jump. “There is a lot you can do for me. Will you?” Something in her eyes dared her to back out of the deal.
“Of course,” she mumbled. She meant to say it louder.
“Then free me from the lamp,” she said, leaning forward and crossing her wrists over each other in her lap. “Will you? I’m sick of being trapped in this lamp, enslaved to selfish humans who think they can conquer the world with my talents.” There was a bitter, hard edge to her voice that Sepideh understood more than she wanted to admit. “I hate it, and I hate them, and I hate the ones who put me here. I want out of my lamp, and I want to take a rest, and then I want revenge after that.” Sounded like a worthy goal. “Will you help me?” Her eyes dared her to back out.
Sepideh looked up and nodded. She didn’t even know if she should. Would this hurt her later? But then, she oughtn’t to be doing any of this, and she had promised. Backing out of a promise had been what had gotten her father in that Aladdin-caused mess in the first place. “Yes,” she said. “I will. What do I have to do?” Roshanak eyed her as if she weren’t quite sure what to make of her.
“Just say it. Say that you want me to be free of the lamp,” she said, and suddenly her voice was uncertain and vulnerable, and Sepideh didn’t know what to make of that either.
“Then I want you to be free of the lamp,” she said. “I want you to be free so you can take a rest and get your revenge. Will we meet again?” Sepideh wanted so badly for her to say yes, and she wasn’t sure why.
Roshanak looked at her for a moment, and then threw her head back with a laugh. She laughed too long, and too loud, until the hairs on the back of Sepideh’s neck stood up. “Why not?” Roshanak said. She swooped in closer to her, a grin on her face. That was another sudden mood change. Sepideh winced but did not move away as she would for most people. She related better to a monster she had had one conversation with than the humans around her, and that summed up her life. “I do like you quite a bit. Should we live together? I said I wanted to rest, and I have to rest somewhere. Why not in a palace? A fine palace with lots of big, grand gardens and fountains wherever you look?” Sepideh stared at her for a moment, and the laugh slowly faded from Roshanak’s eyes. “Or not,” she added, subdued.
Sepideh held up a hand. “No, it’s not that I don’t want to,” she said quickly. She realized what she had said. The ingrained desire to not be rude really was going to kill her one of these days. But for some reason she…She was lonely. She was so, so lonely some days she felt like screaming at the walls just to see if anyone noticed. So…she didn’t want to say no. She didn’t want to reject her even though this was so stupid.
Roshanak’s eyes lit up. “Really?” she said, her voice a low murmur. She got to her feet and held out a hand to Sepideh. “You want me like this? An ugly, unashamed monster?” There was a wicked laugh at the back of her voice.
“I don’t mind you for being a monster,” she said, gripping her hand and pulling herself to her feet. Roshanak’s hand was cold, even though the air was swelteringly warm. “I could not mind you for that.” She had felt too much of a monster at times to ever judge someone else for being monstrous. Not in that way.
Roshanak smiled down at her, and for once her face looked soft and open. Sepideh would not have guessed she could look like that. “Then close your eyes, and I’ll tell you to open them when we get to your palace.”
“And the palace will be magical,” she said, squeezing her eyes shut.
“And it will be magical,” Roshanak agreed.
[Edit: Using the word ‘savage’ to describe a non-white character was not the best choice. Sorry. I find tough girls sexy, but I should have put thought into how I described her. 🤦🏻♀️ God, I can’t believe 17-year-old me didn’t catch that.]
So, a part of me is going, ‘this is the best story eveeerrr!! The whole world will read it and bow in awe of what an amazing writer I am!!’, a part of me is going, ‘noo, it’s so bad,’ and the sane part of me is going, ‘so, you do realize probably only two people are going to read this, right?’
Usually when I write a character, I have the hardest time keeping track of their body language and how I last described them–are they sitting down, or did I say they stood up three paragraphs ago, etc. And actually figuring out how to describe said body language is also hard, but for some reason with Roshanak I always knew where she was in the scene and how to describe that. It was really, really nice.
Eyes show up in my stories as a theme quite a lot. I’m not sure why, but I’m always describing my characters’ ‘hungry eyes’ or ‘cold eyes’ or ‘dead eyes.’ It’s a weird writing quirk. I have no idea why that keeps showing up, but it does. Oh well, I’m here for it.
Also, Roshanak’s name is similar to the name of another character I have, but I don’t care. It’s a nice name. (It’s the only female ancient Persian name I could find during a quick google search.) Fun fact, I actually misspelled Sepideh’s name all throughout the first draft of this? It was only when I googled the name one more time just to make sure I was spelling it correctly that I realized I’d been misspelling it. Thank God for google, people.
17 thoughts on “Sepideh and the Jinni–An Aladdin short story”
I loveeee this! The new take on this is brilliant. If I could give this 5 likes I would! I also loved how Sepideh and Roshanok became friends and maybe just maybe they could become more than friends? You’re thr author, you decide!
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Ahh adjksfl thank you so much you’re so nice
Seriously, this comment made me smile so much.
And yeah, I think there definitely was something hinting toward that direction. There was probably a little more of that in the first draft, but I cut some of it, because I write slow burn and those two are NOT allowed to just fall in love when they first meet because I find insta-love a little bit weird XD
(But yes I think they may end up being more than just friends. Who knows. 🙂 )
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Haha I’m glad! 😊 This is amazing!
Ooh perfecto 😉 ahh yes I see that. I loooovee slow burn so I forgive you! But SepidehxRoshanok… maybe Rosheh? EEK SO CUTEEE. And yh, insta-love makes no sense!
(Ahh yay! Please continue this story! I shall continue to ship Rosheh!)
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Thank you! I ship them too, I’ll definitely admit it. And I LOVE THE SHIP NAME.
I do have a lot of other stories I’m working on right now, so I probably won’t be able to write more of this story currently ;_; I do want to continue this, though! Maybe I’ll just let it rest for a while and see if I come up with any ideas.
YASS. ROSHEH 😀❤
Ooh ok. I hope you revisit it, though! That’s a great idea 😄 and I’m excited to see future posts! You should do a writing tips post. I’d find that very useful!
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I LOVED THIS
My heart really hurt for Sepideh. Just.
This was amazing.
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Thank you so, so much!
(I am mean to poor Sepideh.)
Wow, I really loved this! Such an original look at the story. I’ve always wanted to see a version where the princess uses the lamp as well! Great job!
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Thank you so much!!
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This was great to read! The twist of the princess being unhappy and trying to find a way out is intriguing.
Thank you for participating!
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Thanks! And thank you for the prompt, I needed the writing inspiration!
OH MY GRACIOUS GOODNESS ALIVE. BECKY. DIS STORY. *alllll the heart eyes*
First of all, your writing voice is THE. BEST. THING. I was just soaking it up. The emotion absolutely leapt off the page, and you have such a gorgeous, unique way of describing things. I ADORE IT.
But also THE STORYYYYY. Writing a sequel of sorts to the original tale was brilliant beyond brilliant. Because YES. It probably wasn’t always flowers and sunshine being married to the Aladdin from the original tale. Eheh. And I loooved the idea of the Princess using the lamp. It does seem like she would have figured out Aladdin had a genie eventually. The way you portrayed her felt so REAL.
I JUST LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS SO VERY MUCH. SO SO MUCH. <333
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Oh my goodness, Christine, just…let me go cry right now. Thank you so much. And I am GLAD to hear that you liked the description, because description is one of those things I can have trouble with sometimes. XD Ah my ego is stoked by your words it definitely did not need stoking
And THANK YOU AGAIN. I can definitely see Aladdin and the princess loving each other, but I can also see that marriage being a total wreck, and I chose the latter because I’m a nice person >:-D
Incredible. I can really hear Sepideh’s emotions through your use of dialogue! And what a strange (good strange) take on the mainstream story! Absolutely, wonderfully incredible. Thank you so much for posting this 🙂
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Thank you so much!! I’m glad! And yes, I enjoy writing kind of strange stories the best, lol. Thank you for commenting!
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