Ever since she was a little girl, all Chloe Michaels wanted in life was to be beautiful, which was unfortunate because as she grew up she developed into a very ugly person, both inside and out. As she became a teenager she did not turn into the model she assumed she’d become, and instead her lanky hair and shape stayed plain and dull, just like everything else about her. During her free time she would dream about when she’d be older and could afford all the plastic surgery in the world. The first thing she wanted to change about herself was her nose. It was much too big.
By the time she reached eighth grade, the new reason Chloe so badly wanted to be beautiful was so she could be better than her classmate and nemesis, Brielle Sykes.
“I just want to be better than my classmate and nemesis, Brielle Sykes,” Chloe would say to her mother every night over dinner, the only person who would listen to her.
“Mhmm,” her mother would reply back, preoccupied with watching television, which she kept over Chloe’s seat at the table.
“Every day when she comes up to me in class and says in that stupid-fake voice ‘Hi Chloe! How was your night? Did you catch that episode of The Bachelor? I know how big a fan you are of Chris Harrison,’ all I want to do is grab her by that hideous hair of hers and push her out the window!” Chloe would rant. Realizing what she’d said, she’d backtrack and quickly add “She’d probably be fine. She’s so fat she’d just bounce when she hits the parking lot. It’s not that big of a fall even. Only like three stories.”
Her mother wasn’t listening to her anyway.
Though Chloe steadily developed a fondness for ranting about Brielle to people who would potentially listen to her, inside the classroom was a different story. Chloe knew that she was the better of the two, so as a showing she decided that she would be the one to take the high road and try to keep things civil between them. Brielle was relentless though, and would torment her endlessly to the point that Chloe would often fantasize about flinging herself off the roof of the school just to escape from the bullying.
“Good morning, Chloe!” Brielle said on a particular morning when Chloe walked into their classroom. “Are you doing alright?”
God, Brielle, why are you so obsessed with me?! Chloe longed to yell at her. She knew she’d get in trouble for it, but imagining Brielle’s face crumbling from the attack put her in a good enough mood that she was feeling gracious and decided against it. “Fine,” she mumbled instead, walking carefully around her to get to her seat. She plopped her backpack on her desk and folded her arms. Waiting for Mr. Peterson to arrive, she spent the remainder of her free time thinking of clever ways she’d get back at Brielle if she was invisible. The other kids spent their time laughing and joking with each other, some discussing their plans for after the school day ended. Chloe thought they were stupid.
During a break halfway through the day, Chloe was sitting alone at her desk as she usually did, when she noticed Jake O’Brien sniggering in a corner of the classroom with Caleb Down. Chloe hated many people in the world, but Jake was surprisingly not one of them. Feeling brave, she stood up and walked over to them. Caleb noticed her coming, and he nudged Jake in the ribs.
“Hey guys,” Chloe said to them, staring hard at Caleb. “What did you think of that lesson? Boring, right?”
“I actually liked it,” Jake said.
“Me too,” Caleb added. “I found it particularly interesting how Mr. Peterson explained the critical junction between literature and communism, specifically when it comes to-”
“Can I talk to you for a second, Jake?” Chloe interrupted.
Jake and Caleb exchanged looks. “Aren’t we talking now?” Caleb asked.
Chloe suddenly realized she really didn’t like Caleb. “Alone, please,” she said.
Caleb shrugged and walked away.
“So Jake,” Chloe said, now trying hard to smile like actresses do for unwanted paparazzi pictures they don’t know are being taken. “What’s going on?”
“Well, Caleb and I were discussing-”
“Listen, I have a really important question I wanted to ask you,” Chloe said. “What do you think about… about…”
Her confidence waving, out of the corner of her eye Chloe noticed Caleb now talking to Brielle. They were both smiling and looking happy. This filled Chloe with such rage, that she figured if she could inflict pain on people just by saying their name-
“Brielle,” Chloe mumbled, though it was loud enough for Jake to hear.
“Oh, she’s awesome!” Jake said, his face lighting up. “I really like that she cares about her appearance. She’s like the only girl in class that really makes an effort, you know?” Struck with an idea, Jake leaned in and spoke in a hushed voice. “You seem friendly with her,” he said. “Do you think you could ask her if she feels the same way about me?”
Chloe stared at him. She was suddenly struck with the brilliant idea of kicking Jake as hard as she could in the groin.
“So what was that question you wanted to ask me?” Jake said.
“Nothing,” Chloe said in a small voice. She started walking away so he wouldn’t see the tears starting to form in her eyes. “Forget it.”
“Well, okay,” Jake said after her. “Please don’t forget to ask her!”
Chloe sat at her desk and talked to no one for the rest of the school day. She didn’t pay attention to Mr. Peterson’s lesson, and instead spent the time trying to convince herself that she’d forgotten Jake’s request. No one saw her cry though, so when the bell went off and she left school she considered the day a success.
It began to drizzle as she was passing the school’s gates. To get home, Chloe usually took a straight path down the local streets, but due to the rain she decided to take a shortcut she knew of through the nearby woods. Walking at a brisk pace as the rain quickly turned into a thunderstorm, she entered the woods and prayed that Brielle, Jake, and Caleb would all get struck by lightning. Thinking happily about what the three would look like with their newfound electrical aspects, by the time Chloe was halfway home she’d forgotten to keep an eye out for where she was stepping.
And then she tripped.
“Mother…” she moaned, gripping her knee that she’d fallen on. She glanced over at the rock that tripped her. Except it wasn’t a rock, but a lamp.
Her knee still throbbing in pain, Chloe got to her feet and walked over to the lamp. She picked it up. Though it was dirty with muck and wet from the rain, it wasn’t an ugly lamp. It was small, and looked like one of the lamps she’d seen in the Israeli Shuk on her vacation last July. With a little cleaning it might make for a nice souvenir.
Chloe rubbed it.
Smoke began percolating from the mouth of the lamp. Then it began to throb. Soon it was shaking so violently that Chloe dropped it. Confused and scared, she started to back away, but tripped on a real rock this time, falling hard on her butt.
With a loud “poof” a beast burst from the lamp. It was tall, whatever it was, and had orange fur that sprouted from its body like feathers on a bird. Curiously, it was also wearing a bowtie.
The beast landed on the floor and turned to face Chloe, who was staring at it with a mix of terror and curiosity. It bowed low, then stood up tall.
“Greetings!” it said cheerfully. “And congratulations on being the first one to claim my lamp!”
Her senses returning to her, Chloe screamed.
“No, no, no,” the beast said calmly with a grimace. It snapped its fingers and Chloe’s mouth shut. The worst punishment imaginable for her, she now couldn’t open it. She instead decided to run.
The beast grabbed her before she could take two steps. He leaned down so that they were eye-level. “As I was saying,” it said. “You just claimed my lamp! I am now yours to command, and I offer you three wishes. Whatever they are, no matter what they are, I will make it come true.”
The beast snapped its fingers again, and Chloe found she could open her mouth. Staring at the beast, Chloe couldn’t believe her luck. She could think of quite a few things she’d like to do with those wishes.
“Any wish?” she said. “Any wish and you’ll grant it?”
“Any wish,” the beast said with another bow. “Just say the word, and it will be done.” The beast suddenly blushed. “You know, this is kinda a big deal for me. I can’t believe this is really happening. This is actually my first time at this gig since I got fired from my nightmare monster job, and I’m really-”
“I WISH I WAS BEAUTIFUL!” Chloe blurted out.
The beast stared at her. “Well that was quick,” it said.
“More specifically, I wish I was more beautiful than my classmate and nemesis, Brielle Sykes,” Chloe clarified.
The beast turned to the shadows of the woods and pointed at Brielle with its thumb. “You know I said any wish, right?” it said. “Any. Wish. Literally anything in the world. World peace, the new iPhone, spoilers for next season of Game Of Thrones. None of that sounds appealing to you?”
Chloe shook her head.
The beast shrugged. “Whatever, kid,” it said. It snapped its fingers.
In a flash of light, Chloe felt her entire body change. The rain had stopped by now, and she ran to a nearby puddle to look at herself in the reflection. Her wish had come true! Her face and body now looked completely different. Gone was her big nose, and in its place was a normal, elegant sniffer. Her form had also changed, filling out and giving her a less scrawny look. She was even wearing different clothes, and the gown she was now in was fitting of something to wear to only the most snootiest of parties.
“So how about you use the next wish for world peace, and then the last one for Game Of Thrones spoilers,” the beast said. “I’m kinda a big fan myself, and I figure you could sell the spoilers for a lot of money. If you word the wish right, I can even get you the full season on video. I’m sure that’d be valuable.”
Chloe wasn’t listening to him. Her dreams since she was a girl had suddenly come true, and the emotions of that realization was too much for her small brain. The best part of now being beautiful: she was finally better than Brielle! She couldn’t wait to see her face when she walked into class tomorrow.
“So…” the beast went on. “World peace?”
Chloe walked back to the lamp. She picked it up. “Nah,” she said. “I’m gonna save the other two for later. Go back into the lamp now so I can take it home.”
The beast rolled its eyes. In a flash, it turned into an orange mist that retreated back into the lamp. Excited, Chloe dropped it into her bag and skipped the rest of the way home. Her mother wasn’t in the house, as she usually stayed out late attending her Scientology meetings. For once Chloe didn’t mind, and she went right to bed, giddy for the following day.
In the morning, Chloe had to continually check in the mirror and pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. As she dressed, she made sure to put on an oversized hoodie that would hide her newfound good looks. She didn’t want anyone to see her until a time where she could maximize the attention she’d get. Double checking that the lamp was still in her bag as she’d left it the night before, she grabbed a quick breakfast from her kitchen and walked out the door.
Skipping her way to school, Chloe made sure to arrive early and went straight to the girl’s bathroom near her classroom. For her grand entrance, she decided she wanted all of her classmates to be in class, but still in their free time before Mr. Peterson arrived. When that time came, she took off her hoodie and confidently strutted to the room and flung the door open with such force, that it loudly banged against the wall. The noise made all of her classmates turn to look at her. They stared. Then they began to whisper. Jake was the first one to start sniggering. Something was wrong.
Chloe looked down at her gown. It was gone, and in its place were rags, ugly and gray. She touched her nose and could tell that it had reverted to its original huge size. Her eyes widening with terror, she ran from the room back to the bathroom, furious tears of blind rage cascading down her cheeks. Once there, she ripped open her bag and rubbed the lamp again. It began to vibrate, and soon the beast popped out of it again. He was eating a sandwich and looked surprise to see her.
“I guess I forgot to mention that I’m only on call from 10 to 6,” he said looking at her, mouth full of sandwich. “Geez, this is awkward.”
“Why the hell did you do that?!” Chloe yelled.
The beast swallowed his mouthful of food. “Why did I do what?”
“You made me ugly again!”
The beast stared at her curiously. “That’s strange,” it said. “I don’t know why that happened.”
“Well make me beautiful again!” Chloe cried.
“I’m guessing we’re ditching world peace then.”
“Fine,” the beast said with a shrug. “But you’re going to have to use another wish to-”
“I WISH I WAS MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN BRIELLE!” Chloe bellowed.
The beast rolled its eyes and snapped his fingers. Chloe quickly felt her body change again. She turned to a nearby mirror. She was back to being beautiful again! Relieved, she marched back to the classroom and flung the door open again. Everyone stared at her again, only this time they were laughing. Jake and Caleb were laughing the hardest. Chloe looked down and saw that she was back to being in rags again. Furious, she marched back to the bathroom. The beast was still there, and was drawing faces in a mirror with his breath.
“Why are you doing this to me?” she asked.
“I’m not doing anything!” the beast insisted. “I don’t know why this is happening.”
Chloe stared at the beast, then was struck with an idea. “I wish Brielle became ugly,” she said with a smirk. “So ugly, that no one would ever want to be associated her. So that everyone will forever know her as ‘that ugly girl.’”
The beast looked at her, almost with concern. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Obviously,” she said. “Do it.”
The beast shrugged and snapped its fingers.
With nothing happening, after an awkward pause Chloe asked, “So now when I go back to class she’ll be ugly?”
“Should be,” the beast said.
Satisfied, Chloe started walking towards the exit. “I’m surprised you used all of your wishes so quickly,” the beast said after her. “My previous master only used one so far.”
Chloe turned around. “Wait,” she said. “You said I was your first master!”
“Yeah, that’s what my first master told me to tell you,” the beast said with a shrug. “She said to grant all of your wishes, and then reverse them at a time that would cause you optimal embarrassment.”
Chloe stared at the beast. Then she understood. She walked out of the bathroom and back to her classroom, not even bothering to change out of the rags. When she got there, she scanned the room. Brielle was smiling at her when she found her. She was wearing the same gown that Chloe had on after her first two wishes.
“That’s what you get!” Brielle yelled, her eyes alive with malice. “That’s what you get for trying to be better than me!”
Chloe glared at her and crossed the room to her desk. She sat down in her seat and pouted as the rest of the class stared at her, confused at what just happened. By the time Mr. Peterson arrived a few minutes later, Chloe was already hard at work coming up with ideas in her head for how she would get revenge.