I love this prompt. It gave me so many ideas it was hard to pick just one. "Jar of Hope," a fantasy, is what I settled on. I hope you like it. Here's the prompt:
Jar of Hope
It was hard for Dross to believe the little stoppered jar could change his world. It sat in the middle of the table while the auctioneer tried to pump up Dross’s preemptive bid.
“Sold! To the young wizard.”
The auctioneer turned to his assistant. “Make sure his gold is real before you give him the phial.”
Dross handed over a coin, which the assistant dutifully bit. Then she smiled flirtatiously at him, her row of cracked teeth a testament to how many had tried to cheat the auctioneer.
The warmth of the roaring fireplace within the stone-walled tower couldn’t reach the balcony where the light of the full moon bathed the dregs of Dross’s dreams lying in the glass phial. This was but the second step of the spell. The first had been a similar bath in the rays of the setting sun. Shivering, he knew he could bear the cold until the sunrise completed the spell.
Despite the cold, or because of a side-effect of the spell, Dross dozed off into restless dreams of hope and soul-crushing despair. When he awoke, the sun floated half-revealed above the flat sea. Its rays had already consumed half the charred residue in the phial, turning it into wisps of pink-tinged smoke.
As the sun rose higher, the last of the flakes someone had scraped from the funeral pyre boiled away and the mist swirled into a tiny maelstrom. Lifting the jar, Dross spoke the words of the spell, and the smoke coalesced into the face of a beautiful woman—a mage herself—whose sacrifice had saved his life and the lives of so many others.
When he spoke the final word, Dross pulled loose the stopper, freeing the swirling smoke from within, and awakening the djinn of his lost lover.