Sue Clarke

It was a wet, rainy day in the school holidays. Poppy looked out of the window at the rain and thought about her parents.


They were on a long holiday travelling round the world. They said Poppy was too young to go. So Poppy was staying with her Aunt Bella in her funny old house with lots of rooms and strange noises.

Today Poppy was bored. She was all alone – Aunt Bella was out shopping. It was the third week of the holidays and it had rained all the time. Poppy knew all the parts of the house and garden now. Downstairs there was a big living-room with squashy old chairs and the television. Next to that was the dusty dining-room with its enormous table and chairs. The dining-room was red and there were many old books in the bookcases, but they were not very exciting. The room smelt strange and Poppy didn’t like it. At the back of the house was the kitchen. That room was better – it was warm and full of delicious cooking smells.

Upstairs were the bedrooms. Aunt Bella's room was at the front and Poppy's room was at the back. She could see the garden with its apple trees and flowers. Today it was too wet to play outside. The bedrooms were cold and there wasn't much furniture. In Poppy's room there was only a bed, a small table and a wardrobe for clothes.

At the end of the corridor there were stairs. It was very dark in the corridor but Poppy decided to look upstairs. Maybe there was something interesting in the attic. She felt slowly in the dark and saw a spider hanging in its web. One step, two more steps, then she arrived at the top. There was an old door. Poppy turned the key - it was difficult. She heard a click and the door opened as if by magic. She couldn't believe her eyes.

Poppy stepped into the strangest room she had ever seen. The walls were changing colour and were decorated with sparkly silver and gold stars and moons. First blue, then pink, then purple and gold mixed together. It was like liquid colour.

The furniture was strange too. On the left was a sofa - but it wasn't on the floor! It was hanging in the air and moved around the room. Other chairs and tables moved around or stopped on the ceiling. In the middle of the room was a table and two chairs. They weren't moving very much so Poppy sat down at the table. Immediately the table was covered with delicious food - cakes and jellies and ice-cream. Poppy took a cake and tasted it. Mmmm! Heavenly! A taste out of this world!

The walls changed colour and she watched them. The colour became darker and she switched on the gold lamp next to the table.

As she did she heard a sound 'Whoooosh!' and the room was filled with smoke, so she couldn't see very well. After a minute she saw a person appear, and then she saw it was a boy.

"Hi," he said. "I am the genie of the lamp. Who are you?"
"I'm Poppy," she replied, "but you don't look like a genie."

The boy stood there in front of her. He was wearing a designer T-shirt and jeans, very expensive trainers, and a baseball cap on his head.
'"No," he said, "I suppose I don't. I got bored with all that red and gold stuff, and after two thousand years my clothes were really old, so I got some new ones."

"How do I know you are a real genie?" said Poppy.
The boy looked at her. He muttered a kind of spell.
And then suddenly Poppy was in the air. She flew very fast around the room and then she stood on the ceiling.
"Okay! I believe you," she shouted. "Get me down!"

Poppy floated down to the floor and landed softly.
"So, what's your problem? How many wishes do you want?"
"Me?'" said Poppy. "I haven't got any problems!" But her face was red.

Then she sat on the floating sofa and told the cool genie how lonely she was. She told him about the rain, and feeling sad. She told him about having no friends. The cool genie just nodded his head. Sometimes he muttered some strange words - like 'Solusincanta' - but mostly he just listened. When Poppy finished her story she felt better.

The cool genie stood up and said, "Well, bye - I must go now!"

The smoky cloud appeared again. Then suddenly he was gone. Poppy went out of the room and back down into the house. She looked out of her bedroom window and the sun was shining. She went downstairs and found a postcard from her parents. It said 'Darling Poppy, Miss you, Back next week, Love Mum and Dad.'

Then the front door banged and she heard Aunt Bella arriving with her shopping.

"I've got a surprise for you, Poppy," she said. She gave Poppy a box. A strange noise was coming from inside. Poppy opened the box and found a cute little puppy. He looked at her with big eyes and barked 'hello'. Poppy smiled. She felt so happy. She went out into the garden to play with her new puppy.

The next day Poppy decided to say 'Thank you' to the genie.
She went upstairs towards the attic and opened the door. But there was nothing there except a dark old room with a few boxes. Poppy stared in amazement.
"Oh well," she said. "Who needs magic anyway?"