A deal with a genie
This story is the response to another prompt at Blackship Books. If you like it, drop me an email!
When Benny was six, he made a deal with a genie. During the next twenty years, he sometimes wondered if the incident had really happened, or if it was just the result of a child's fevered imagination. But he still thought very carefully about how to complete the deal.
A few days after his sixth birthday, his grandmother had taken him to an antiques fair. They were both interested in old things and loved nothing more than rooting around in cardboard boxes filled with bric-a-brac or browsing the shelves of a second-hand book shop. An entire fair's worth of stalls loaded with clothes, ornaments, vinyl records, and pictures was their idea of heaven.
Benny was up, dressed and ready to go a full hour before his grandmother was due to arrive to collect him. The time they had arranged came and went. By the time she was half-an-hour late, even his mother was getting worried. Just as she was reaching for her 'phone, there was a knock at the door. Benny ran to the door and tore it open.
“Granny, there you are! You're late!”
His grandmother stepped inside the house and ruffled his hair. “It's lovely to see you, too, Benny,” she said with a smile. She waived aside her daughter's concerned questions. “I just took a bit longer getting going this morning, that's all. I had one of my headaches yesterday and it left me tired this morning. No, I haven't seen the doctor; what would be the point? Now Benny, let's get to the fair before all the good stuff has gone!”
The fair was beyond all of Benny's expectations. When they had explored about half of it, they sat down for some refreshment. Benny noticed that his grandmother took two little white pills with her tea.
“Do you still have your headache, Granny?” he asked.
“Very slightly, Benny. But it's nothing for you to worry about,” she replied, patting his hand.
The next stall they visited was selling old oil lamps.
“Look, Granny!” he exclaimed, pointing at one especially dirty example. “Let's take it home and clean it!”
“Do you think there's a genie hiding inside?” she asked him with a wink.
He was bursting with excitement and all he could do was nod. She turned to the stall-holder and negotiated a price for the lamp. The stall-holder wrapped it in brown paper and handed it to him. They completed their circuit of the fair and made a few more purchases and then went home.
When he got up the next morning, his father told him that his mother was in the hospital with his grandmother. Benny felt a cold shiver go down his spine.
“Is Granny going to be OK?” he demanded.
His father answered slowly. “We don't know yet, Benny-boy. She had a fall in the night and the doctors say it has something to do with those headaches she's been having.”
“Can I go and see her?”
“Maybe later. Mummy's going to give us a call when she knows what's going on. Now, why don't you go and play? It'll help take your mind off it.”
But Benny really didn't want to play. He went up to his room but none of his toys or books could hold his attention. Just as he was about to switch on his television, the brown paper parcel caught his eye. The lamp! Of course. Cleaning that would distract him. He asked his father for some cleaning materials and set to work.
After two hours hard work, the grime had been removed and he felt it was time to give it a final polish. He took the dry, soft cloth that his father had given him and began to rub. When a thin stream of pale turquoise smoke began to issue out of the lamp he was startled but not really surprised. By the time it had formed itself into a very solid looking man with turquoise skin and a bright pink turban, he had already formed his first wish.
“Oh Master of the Lamp!” intoned the genie. “You have freed me from this prison in which I have been bound for... two thousand, three hundred and er... five years! As a mark of my gratitude, I will now grant you three wishes! What is your first wish?”
“I wish that my grandmother was well again!” answered Benny, promplty.
The genie looked at him properly for the first time. “That's it? I would have thought a prodigious amount of chocolate or a lake of lemonade would be more your style,” he said.
Benny shook his head, then paused. “Well, maybe for my second wish... But my first is for my grandmother to be well,” he said.
The genie yawned. “Very well, it is done. Now what were you saying about your second...” but he was interrupted by the sound of the telephone.
Benny ran downstairs and stared anxiously at his father. “Hello, love,” he said into the 'phone. “How's it going? She has? Oh, that's great! I'll tell Benny; he's just itching to come and visit. This afternoon? Fine, we'll be there.”
He talked for a few more minutes and then put the 'phone down. “Benny, Granny's going to be fine. They've done loads of tests and she's definitely going to make a full recovery. We can go and visit her after lunch, OK?”
Benny nodded happily and hurried back upstairs. “OK, the first wish worked. Thank you very much, Mr Genie.”
“It was nothing, really. Now, your second wish – that lake of lemonade, was it?”
Benny shook his head. “No, thank you. I want to receive a bar of my favourite chocolate every day for the rest of my life.”
The genie narrowed his eyes. “How old are you?” he asked, suspiciously.
“Six. I've read lots of stories where people waste their wishes. I want to make sure mine keep on going.”
“So I see. Very well; at exactly six pm every night, a bar of chocolate will appear under your pillow. Will that do?”
“That sounds excellent. Thank you, Mr Genie.”
“OK, OK, don't go over board. Now what about your third wish.”
“Do I have to use it now?”
“Well, I was just thinking, I might ask for something now but in say... twenty years... I might think of something better. So, would you mind waiting for another twenty years for me to have my third wish?”
The genie clicked his fingers and a book appeared entitled 'Genie Union Rule Book'. He flicked through it then closed it with a snap. “I can't see a rule against it,” he admitted with a sigh.
“Good. Then please return to your lamp and I'll see you in twenty years,” said Benny.
And now, twenty years later, he stood in front of the lamp anxiously smoothing his lapels. His briefcase lay on the bed ready for him to take it to work. But first, he had a deal to close with a genie.