I arrived at the park a few minutes after 10 pm. It was deserted, just as I had hoped. I had to do this away from the house or Mum would probably have a fit – I knew how much she hated the dusty old lamp.
Truth be told, I wasn’t too fond of it myself, but underneath the filthy exterior it held a kind of fascination for me. I had certainly never seen anything like it, and found myself recalling fairy stories from my childhood, in which lamps like these hid magical secrets, only to be revealed through cleaning the object itself. I didn’t know what had come over me – normally I was a very practical, no-nonsense kind of person – but still the curiosity was there. Surely no harm could come from giving it a try. If the lamp was really just a lamp (which, I sternly reminded myself, was the only logical possibility), then I had nothing to fear. With an irrational hesitation that I wouldn’t care to acknowledge even to myself, I cautiously gave the lamp a small rub with the back of my arm.
I knew something had happened when I felt an electric sensation shoot up my arm, making me almost drop the lamp in my hand. As I was recovering from the shock, my eyes fell on a dancing light at the tip. It couldn’t possibly be sparkling… My eyes had to be fooling me.
A second later, the sparks were swept from my mind as I was engulfed in a cloud of purple smoke, a good deal of which I inhaled in an involuntary gasp. Coughing, I chided myself for being so stupid. Of course, this was just some weird chemical reaction. Perhaps someone had deliberately set it up like this for a joke. Maybe it was that woman… Wait… woman?! There definitely hadn’t been anyone in front of my a second ago, where now there stood a distinctly female shape. Where had she come from? She couldn’t be… no, that was impossible. Genies didn’t exist.
“You keep telling yourself that, honey,” said an amused female voice. As the smoke cleared, it revealed the woman standing before me. Clearly, it was she who had spoken, since there was no one else in sight.
I was rendered temporarily speechless as I took in her appearance. Red hair. Pointed ears. Blue skin. An outfit that looked straight out of Arabian Nights. She looked just like a stereotypical-
“Genie?” she supplied, looking more amused that ever. “Funny how that works.”
“W-who… are you?” I managed to stutter. She smiled at me.
“Name’s Danette. First class genie, at your service.” She reached out and shook my limp hand. All I could do was stare.
“So, let’s get down to business, shall we? What’ll it be?”
It took me a moment to realise she had spoken, and was looking at me expectantly. “S-sorry, what?”
“Your wishes, hun. What do you want the most in life?”
“I…” I knew what I wanted, but was she really capable of giving it to me? I had a woman in front of me who claimed to be a genie. I still wasn’t sure I believed it, in spite of her bizarre appearance, but surely nothing bad could come from giving it a try? I decided to trust her, at least for now.
“I want a career in fishing,” I told her. “I already have that, but I want it to be successful. I want a house where I can keep my fish in bowls, and I want a garden with a pond that I can fish from.”
“Fishing, huh?” She stood silent for a moment, clearly deep in thought. Then she spoke. “I think I can do that for you. The career is up to you, but I can give you the stuff you need, and more.”
“Um… thank you.” Was she serious? Could she really provide me with all that, just because I asked?
My thoughts were interrupted as she started to hum. Loudly. And then even more loudly. I looked around nervously, hoping that we were still alone and no one else could see or hear what I could. The genie’s eyes started to glow, as though a blinding light was shining behind them. She opened her mouth, as if in a silent scream, and the same light burst from the opening. I jumped back in shock, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
She rose into the air, her body jerking and arms waving wildly. Without the shining lights, I would have thought she was having a fit.
At the same moment, I felt an unfamiliar tingling in my own body. The sensation was not unpleasant, but it was foreign, and it freaked me out. I looked down at my hands, where the feeling was strongest, and was shocked to see that they were… sparkling. Just like the lamp when I had first rubbed it. What was going on?
I felt my feet leave the ground as I rose into the air. What I could only describe as an electric sensation was coursing through my whole body. My movements were no longer under my control. My head tipped back and my arms spread wide as the sparkles swirled in crazy patterns around me. I could no longer tell myself that all this was built up by lies and clever chemicals. Whatever was happening, it was not of this world.
The whole thing stopped as suddenly as it had started. I found myself on my feet again and in control of my own body. When my mind eventually returned to Earth, I realised that the genie was speaking again.
“… Give it five minutes or so and you’ll get your wish. No strings attached, but I can’t take it back. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
I didn’t respond… I was still too shocked to move. I only distantly registered what she was saying.
“If you don’t mind, that was pretty tiring, so I’m going to go catch a bit of a rest. I’ll see you later, perhaps. Have fun.” She winked at me, and clapped her hands.
And she was gone. And I was alone in the park.
I was just about ready to convince myself that everything that had just happened was all some weird dream or hallucination when my phone rang. As I pressed the button to accept the call, I realised that my hands were shaking.
“Is this Miss Bianca Hunter?” The voice on the other end was pleasant and normal. I felt myself relax.
“Hi Bianca, this is Chelsea at the Bridgeport Bank. I’m just calling to let you know that a woman who claims to be a distant relative of yours has just deposited two hundred thousand simoleons into your account.”
I didn’t know what to say. “I-I think there must be a mistake…” I stuttered.
“No mistake, Miss Hunter. I went through the paperwork myself. You are officially two hundred thousand simoleons richer. Congratulations.”
Could this possibly be the work of the genie? Did I want this? Did I deserve it? A thousand questions flitted through my mind, but one fact stood out among the rest. This money could literally make my dream come true. And it was mine, so the woman said. Someone had given it to me. Genie magic or not, I now had two hundred thousand simoleons in my possession. The deposit had been made, no one else was coming to claim it. This money was really mine. How could anyone wrap their head around something like that?
I thanked Chelsea, she wished me a pleasant evening, and I ended the call. Now all I had to do was tell my parents.
Mum and Dad, though puzzled as to where so much money could have come from, took the news a lot better than I had expected. They were both getting old, and I suspected they were looking forward to a bit of luxurious living in their retirement years. The money was more than triple the amount I would need for my own fishing projects, so I was glad to give it to them. I felt that they deserved some kind of reimbursement for all the years they had sacrificed in raising my siblings and me.
The four of us still living in the house moved in with Aidan and Violet a few weeks later, so that the old house could be knocked down and rebuilt to our specifications. The result took full advantage of the enormous block of land we lived on, with a luxuriously large house and a garden to match.
The front gate was a special kind of security gate which was popular among Bridgeport celebrities, intended to keep out everyone except the family and their guests. We had it fitted to stop the paparazzi bothering Mum – both Dad and I felt that she deserved a bit of a break now that she was getting older.
The ground floor was dominated by an open living, kitchen and dining area, with every home comfort the family could wish for. Dad was especially excited by the chess table in the corner and the enormous bookshelf, both of which he had always wanted to own but never had the money for.
The entertainment room next door was where we kept Aidan’s old easel, along with a brand new pool table and television. Some of my brother’s best paintings were framed to decorate the walls.
Cody and I both had our own rooms, but we made sure Mum and Dad got the best one. Theirs had a private balcony, which overlooked most of the garden and offered a spectacular view of the harbour and the city on the opposite shore.
Of course, the best part for me was the pond in the front garden. Finally I had my own private fishing spot… Or at least, I would have one once I had caught enough fish to stock it. For now, it was enough to know it was there.
My display room, however, had to be a close second. I had dedicated an entire ground floor room to the display of my best fish. Thirteen fish bowls were set up on tables around the room, for when I caught the perfect fish to put in them.
My perfect minnow already occupied the first bowl, and she seemed quite happy with her new environment. I still made sure to feed her every day and look after her the best I could. After all, this was my career now… and finally in a home I could truly call my own.
Extra Pictures of the New House: