The lamp didn’t look like much. Verdigris had started its slow spread, beginning with the intricate nooks and crannies that made up the elaborate engravings covering it. The only thing marring it’s antiquated feel and making it stand apart from everything else in the shop where the rows of tiny spikes across it. The end result was as if an antique mall and a trendy fashion and music store at a megamall had decided to get together and collaborate on a product. If that had been the case this lamp had failed miserably at its intended purpose as it was sitting underneath a fine layer of grime in my Grandma’s attic.
I pulled it out and attempted to blow some of the dust and grit from its surface. I was rewarded with a series of sneezing fits as the top layer came free, leaving another patina of dust underneath it. Pulling my handkerchief from my pocket I first blew my nose, getting rid of any errant dust mites that had strayed that way. I then turned my attention to polishing up the lamp I held in my hand. Slowly the grit of years of neglect gave way to the bright gleam of copper.
Carefully working around the spikes I buffed the entire lamp until only brass and verdigris were showing. Now when I looked at the side of the partially restored lamp I noticed that there was a smudge on the side. I carefully licked my thumb and rubbed at the smudge until I heard a slight squeak with each rub. The smudge was removed and I went back to sorting through the things in the attic. A couple hours of moderately motivated work later and the light drifting in through the slats began to shift from the crisp white of the middle of the day to the golden honey of the late afternoon.
Taking this as my cue to finish up, I gathered up an assorted mishmash of trash into a box and turned to take it down to the curb. I turned with box in hand directly into the face of a stereotype of a stereotype. Not expecting to have anyone in my departed grandmother’s attic with me, I feel flat on my ass in front of the pointy shoed genie that stood before me.
“Who are you?” I asked him.
“Genie of the Lamp.” was he replied. The words rolling out of his mouth like honey over a dipper.
“And how long have you been standing there?” I asked as I gathered myself and the contents of the spilled box I had been carrying from the floor. I felt that I was really taking it in stride, all things considered.
“Ever since you cleaned the lamp,” he said. The rich timbre of his voice doing little to temper the smugness of his tone.
“I guess this is the part where you tell me I have three wi-”
“Why just the one?”
“Just the way my magic works.”
“But in the stories everyone gets three.”
“Well, let me just call up the storybook people in charge of my magic. Let me explain to them how they’ve gotten it wrong and you’re supposed to get two more wishes than your Grandpa did. Two more wishes than everyone else who’s ever summoned me.”
“So why only one wish?”
“Gives people less incentive to free a genie from their servitude, doesn’t it?”
“I suppose it does. So why does your lamp have spikes on it?”
“Look, are you going to make a wish or just keep asking questions?”
“Well, I’ll make my wish, but everything about this is just not like the stories.”
“Not like the stories. Not like the stories.” The genies voice became mockingly nasally as he flopped his hands back and forth. “Who cares?”
“Well, I’d just like to know what I’m getting into I guess. If things we more like the stories I’d know what to expect. Probably would have fewer questions, too.”
“Fine. It’s part of the deal with the wishes. You’ll get whatever you wish for, but you’ll also make an enemy. Your grandpa, for example, wished for your grandma to love him, and made his best friend his enemy.”
“Ah. So I wish for fame and some nut who thinks I stole their lucky break has it in for me? That sort of thing?”
“Yep. That’s pretty much how it works.”
“All right then…”
“So your wish?”
“I wish…you were free.”
“Your wish has been granted. By the way. You’re going to want to keep an eye out for powerful wizards the rest of your life now. They’re the ones that enslaved me and they’re not going to be happy you freed me.”
Apropos of: This Prompt