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Stories by Mail for Children

The Genie’s First Letter

Interested in getting a flavor of the Genie? Here is a slightly shortened version of his first letter to a boy named Sam….

The Lamp of Power

Dark Cobwebby Shelf

Small Sad Junk Shop

Small Sad Town


O Illustrious and Honorable Sam,

I write to you this day with a tale of woe!  You, who have magic in your blood, will understand and help me, a fellow magical creature.  Read my letter, O Compassionate Sam, and consider my plight. 

I am a Genie.  Not just any Genie, you understand, but a Genie of a Lamp.  There are Genies and Genies, but Genies of Lamps are universally known to be the best Genies of all.  We are the brightest, most powerful, most helpful, most magnificent Genies of all Geniedom, and also we have the most stories written about us.  All the centuries of my life I have been proud to be a Genie of a Lamp.

But not anymore.  No! My magnificence has been replaced by squalor.  My pride has been replaced by shame. And why, you ask?  What could destroy my pride in my high calling? This: I have been discarded.  After all my centuries of kindness, helping human after human after human fulfill their wishes, no matter how stupid (and they were almost all stupid, trust me), I have been put in a corner on a dark shelf and forgotten.  Me! My Lamp is sitting behind a pile of broken pots covered in dust and spider webs in a small, sad junk shop in a small, sad town. No one but the spiders has touched it in years. (I would happily grant the spiders’ wishes, but their little feet are too light and delicate to call me out of the Lamp.)

Wise and Intelligent Sam, how can I grant wishes when nobody touches my Lamp?  How can I do the one thing I exist to do when no one summons me to do it? Every time the shop door opens I hope against hope that someone will find me.  But it never happens. Even the shopkeeper hasn’t moved me or dusted me since the first day he stuck me in here. I understand that my Lamp is no longer new. It is tarnished and battered and missing its lid. But where has the human sense of adventure gone? Is there so little magic left in the world that no one is even curious any more?

I am lonely.  It seems strange for a Genie to be lonely.  We live on our own and don’t see other Genies much.  But at least we have conversations with people and we get to do things that have a purpose.  Right now I have nothing and nobody.

I have been abandoned.

There is really only one thing I can do.  I don’t want to do it. It is scary and frightening and terrifying and lots of other things just like that.  But I can’t see any other way. O Brave and Courageous Sam, I have to leave my Lamp.

There, I said it.

I have to go on a quest to find another place to live.  Somewhere where I can be of use. Somewhere I will have value to somebody.

But then I will not be a Genie of a Lamp any longer!  I will be a Lesser Genie, no longer one that is the most written about in stories.  My light will be dimmed, my fame will be lessened. How can I walk away from my Lamp?  Even worse, once I leave my Lamp of my own free will I can never return to it again. The way back will be closed to me.  That is how the magic works.

I don’t think I have a choice, though, not really.  I can stay in my Lamp – my beautiful Lamp, my beloved Lamp – and never grant another wish as long as I live, which may very well be forever.  Or I can go boldly out into the unknown and take up residence in some other receptacle, and have at least the chance to be useful and meaningful again.

What do you think? O Sam, Strong and Farseeing Sam, please help me overcome my fear and take this step into the future.

I am ready. Just knowing you are there strengthens my spirit.  I have packed my toothbrush and my portrait of my mother. (She was a Genie of Immense Magnificence who unfortunately died in the Great Fire of London.  The people fighting the fire didn’t hear her offering to grant their wish. All they saw was smoke, and they put her out with a bucket of water. So sad.)

Now to say farewell to my beloved Lamp.  It hurts to leave it.

But wait! I have an idea!  I could send the Lamp to you!  And so, even though I won’t be living in it any longer, at least someone will take care of it.  It won’t be left to gather dust for the next three thousand years, while customers come and go and buy things like old ironing boards and little plastic kittycats, never noticing the ancient object of power tucked just out of sight on a shelf.  Yes! I will send my Lamp to you. It cannot grant you wishes, since I will not be there, but it is still a Lamp of Power and it will bring good fortune into your life. Huzzah!

I have lived in this Lamp for hundreds of years.  I have never left it before except when someone rubbed it and I appeared to grant a wish.  I have never needed to leave it. Always before I have appeared as a great swirling cloud of purple, green, and orange smoke.  It feels strange, slipping out of the spout in a little gray wisp, trying not to be noticed. The shopkeeper is busy with a customer who is haggling over a second hand electric screwdriver.  Seriously. If she had just picked up my Lamp and given it a little rub I could have renovated her whole house in less than half a minute.

But not any more.

And so I set off on my quest for a new home and a new companion.  O Noble and Generous Sam, keep my Lamp safe. I wish it were possible for my travels to bring me to you, so I could take up residence in my old home again.  What fun we would have! What wishes I would grant! I am sure your wishes would be wise and kind and thoughtful. We could do great things for the world.

I am leaving now.  I have sorrow, but I also have hope.  I will write again very soon, and let you know how my search is going.  Perhaps I will have a new residence, a permanent address in a Receptacle of Extraordinary Wonder.  I can only hope.

Thank you, O Brilliant and Admirable Sam.  I salute you.

Your friend and devoted servant,

The Genie of Who Knows What?