Joanne & The Genie

A sassy, sarcastic twelve year old girl rubs an old copper kettle and releases a genie in a black suit with way too much hair gel. He isn't like the cliché 'genies' she might have expected. He doesn't even use a magic carpet for one thing, and only offers her one wish...

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1. Chapter 1 - The Copper Kettle

"So," he said, "you get one wish. What's it going to be?"

"I thought genies were meant to grant three wishes?"

"Listen here little girl -"

"I'm twelve actually," she interrupted, "and my name is Joanne. Don't patronise me."

"Whatever," the genie replied, "we've been through this. You rubbed the magic lamp and -"

"It was a kettle."

"What?"

"An old copper kettle, the kind someone's great-grandmother might put on the stove to make tea. You see, not stupid after all."

The genie frowned and looked at the 'lamp', it was indeed in the shape of a copper kettle.

"Hmm," mused the genie, "ok yes, it changes shape from time to time in an attempt to fit in with it's surroundings."

"Most people wouldn't know what a copper stove kettle is in England these days. An electric kettle would have blended in a bit better. Although, in America it might pass, most people there still use them".

The genie starred blankly at the girl.

"Little known fact."

"Interesting" he said flatly.

"I pay attention during movies. You just wait 'til you watch an American movie next and they go to make a cup of tea or coffee, they'll use the stove and you'll be like 'ooh yeah, she was right'."

"Right. Thanks for that. Look -"

"I'm sorry! Ok! It's not everyday you rub so old piece of junk and a genie pops out in a puff of purple smoke and offers you one wish!

"I'll ignore the junk comment."

"And what is with your outfit anyway? You look like something out of 'Men In Black' or 'The Matrix' or something. That haircut looks like Brad Pitt circa 1991 -"

"Does anyone actually say 'circa' -"

"Don't interrupt," she snapped back.

"It's all you've done so far!"

"One wish. One wish?! I find this all highly suspect Mr."

"Just make the wish. Nothing suspect about it. As for the number of wishes you get and the appearance of the genie, well, have you ever met a 'real' genie before?"

"No. I've also never met Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy -" a startled look came over her face, "are 'they' real as well?!"

This amused the genie and he tried to hide his smile by rubbing his nose with his hand.

"I think I need to sit down" she said exasperated and sat on the nearest chair at the kitchen table.

"My parents will be home soon" she reasoned, "they will probably think you are a burglar, or a... you know."

"Door to door insurance salesman?"

"Do people still do that?"

"Well I don't really have a door, so -"

"You know full well what I mean. A weirdo. Besides, I'm still not sure you're not just some trickster or magician type. This could all be done with mirrors or something."

"I don't think you'd be sitting here if that's what you really believed, if you believed any of the more unsavoury thoughts you've just expressed."

"I could be distressed!"

"I'm not a weirdo, a magician, a door to door salesman or anything else. I'm a genie."

Joanne watched the genie let out a sigh as he turned back into a wisp of purple smoke and flew through the air back into the copper kettle. It was as much an eyebrow raising experience as it had been the first time. She shot up and ran to the kettle, grabbed it and pulled off the lid, it appeared empty. Grabbing a spoon and banging it around inside only made it look even more ordinary.

The genies disembodied voice boomed, "Stop that! Have you any idea how annoying that noise is?"

"How are you doing that?"

"Funny enough, that would be because I'm a genie! You didn't think you'd just be able to see me sitting on a tiny comfy sofa with a tiny cup of tea in my hand?"

Joanne put the lid back on the kettle and put it back on the stove. Magic wasn't real was it? You're taught to believe a certain way, and 'this' happens.

"Okay" she said, "I believe you, come back out, but we 'will' be talking about this logically and analytically".

The genie laughed as he whizzed through the air and rematerialised.

"Who says analytically? Are you thirty-five or something?"

"Just trying to be mature about this" said Joanne. "Right, let's sit down and have a chat, I'm sure you understand this is all a bit much."

They sat down at the kitchen table facing off.

"First question" said Joanne, "what's your name?

"Is this interview going to take long, I mean, you did say your parents would be home soon."

"'Soon' is a relative term, answer the question.'

The genie pondered, "call me Jim."

"Hmm" said Joanne with open suspicion, "why one wish instead of three?"

"I'm not as powerful as other genies."

"Why not?"

"I haven't passed my genie exam yet."

"Don't mock me Mr."

"Are you going to call me Mr. every time you are annoyed?"

"Expect to hear it a lot... Mr." she thought for a second, "what do you get out of this?"

"Well, it's just the way it is, I grant you a wish and go back to my lamp. Then eventually someone else finds the lamp and I grant them a wish. Genies are magical ancient creatures, not human, from a time before angels."

This answer clearly had not satisfied Joanne so she simply repeated herself, "so, what do you get out of it?"

"I'm compelled to obey you" the genie amused himself, "it's in my DNA, if you like."

"I suppose I can't wish for more wishes?"

"Correct."

"Hmm, just so we are clear. What else can't I wish for?"

"You can't wish anyone dead, and you can't wish to be as powerful as God or the devil or any creature overtly powerful like that."

"How do I know I can trust you? I've seen genies in films. Everybody knows the wishes a genie grants always end up backfiring on the person doing the wishing."

"Like an ironic kind of thing? Yeah that's not going to happen to you. Genies are like people in some respects, they can be good or evil or something in between, like you. So I guess the answer is less of one of trust in people and more of one of faith in them."

Joanne thought on that last comment a moment and said, "do I have to make a wish right now?"

"No, I could go back into the lamp and you do it another day. You could wait until you're eighty and rub the lamp again, for example."

Joanne drummed her fingers on the table, deep in thought.

"Now" ventured the genie, "let me ask you a question. What do you really want? What is your desire? What is your wish?"

"Well" she thought out loud, "I could ask for money, but my father is a general practitioner and my mother a teacher, not at the same school as me thank God, and so, we're not rich but we're ok on that score. We have a nice house with a garden and a relatively happy life."

"How about world peace?"

"Surely that would require changing human nature in some way or having everybody under some sort of totalitarian regime that controls a persons every move in order to maintain peace. Humanity always finds an excuse for war whether it be race, religion, sexuality, resources, money or land."

"I don't think any wars have been fought over sexuality."

"Well no, I'm no expert, I just know there will always be war because human nature is twisted. If I try and wish it away then this is how I end up with one of those ironic genie wishes we were talking about. I'd probably end up in 'room 101' with a rat trap on my head and some secret service bod saying to me 'at least we have world peace'."

The genie laughed, "Hah!"

"I could wish to be immortal, but like the Queen song says 'who wants to live forever?' I wouldn't want to live when my friends and family are long dead. Besides, I'd probably be a thousand years old on a hospital bed, in pain, hooked up to a drip with you saying 'at least you get to live forever!'"

"A rather bleak outlook for one so young."

"I'm just trying to be realistic."

"There must be something you want, and let me promise you now there will be no twist or ironic quality to your wish."

Joanne drummed her fingers on the table again, she said "I get bored sometimes. I read books like Narnia, Harry Potter or Alice In Wonderland and often wish I could have an amazing adventure like that. Do places like that exist?"

"Any reality you care to imagine is possible for us to visit."

"Visit yes, I wouldn't want to stay there, and if we leave now, for example, however long we stay there only a few seconds would have passed here. I don't want people to miss me or worry about me and all that."

"That can be arranged" he replied, "any other conditions you want to put on this?"

"I want to have an adventure where we meet new and exiting friendly people, in amazing fantasy lands, where we change something for the better, like defeat an evil witch or something, and back here in time for tea. I want to meet talking animals and have the time of my life. You must protect me. No dodgy genie business, as I've already said, or I'll be complaining to your manager."

"Ok, you have to say 'I wish'" replied the genie, "we can go right now if you like?"

"Why not" she replied excited and a bit scared, "I wish for an adventure in a fantasy world where we change something for the better, like defeat an evil witch and make the people happy, and return home in time for tea."

"Your wish" said the genie, "is my command."

They sat there looking at each other silently for a moment. "So now what? Don't you have a magic carpet or something to get us there?"

"I'm not very good with magic carpets, I use something else."

"Now he gets mysterious" Joanne complained to herself, "like what?"

He pointed to the closed kitchen door and said "all we have to do is open that door and a world of magic and fantasy awaits you."

Even now Joanne didn't entirely believe what was happening to her. She got up from the kitchen table and walked gingerly towards the door. She turned back to the genie who was now standing up "how will we get back?"

"The same way we came, the door."

"And you'll be there to protect me on this adventure?"

"Yes, I have a duty to you until your wish is completely fulfilled."

"Meaning me back here in time for tea?"

"Yes" he smiled patiently as he walked forward, clasped the doorknob, twisted it and flung the door wide open.

Joanne didn't realise her mouth had dropped open, she was too busy looking out into the fantasy world before her. She surveyed the landscape, they were on a small hill without many trees. Below this hill continent spanning jungles spanned out in all directions, far off in the distance she could see a snow covered mountain and beside it a seashore. She could smell sweet rose petals or some other flower with a similar scent. A gentle breeze blew in a leaf into the kitchen.

"The weather looks fine" said the genie, "shall we?"

"Yes" a slightly stunned Joanne replied, "let's go."

"Ah" replied the genie, "don't forget the lamp we need to take it with us."

Joanna went and got the copper kettle from the stove, "what if we need something else?"

"I will provide it, all you will have to do is rub the lamp if I'm not around. Come on, I can already feel this is one of the better wishes I've granted. Let's go adventure."

"'Adventure' is not a verb."

"It can be" he replied, "if you 'believe'."

He stood in the kitchen doorframe and held out his hand to her with a infectious smile on his face.

With the kettle hanging down in her right hand she smiled broadly and grabbed his hand with her left, and stepped with him into the magical land.

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