"Ali Miller!'' boomed a loud voice. ''Stop right there!"
Ali nearly jumped out of her summer-tan skin. She spun around and saw a huge stone statue of a woman holding a vase. It sounded as if the voice had come from the statue itself. ''Buy me now, Ali," the voice boomed again. ''Pleeease take me home with you!"
"Oh, Gran!" Ali groaned as she suddenly recognized the speaker. She turned bright red when she saw that people were staring at her. ''Everyone's looking!"
Ali's grandma popped her head out from behind the statue. ''Isn't this great?'' she said, a grin on her face. ''Don't worry, I'm not going to buy her. She'd never fit in my car!"
Ali laughed. She called Gran the Junk Queen. Gran's house was full of old stuff she'd collected at garage sales and flea markets, Just like the one they were at now. Although Ali didn't like it when her grandma did something embarrassing, like wearing that awful floppy hat or hiding behind statues, she really looked forward to their Saturday bargain-hunting trips.
Sometimes the things people didn't want were really weird! And what was even weirder was that other people wanted to buy them! Today Gran had already bought a smelly one-eyed teddy bear, a cracked china teapot, and a carton of musty old books. ''Saturday treasures," she called them.
Ali hadn't bought anything. She still had two dollars tucked inside her flower-shaped change purse. She'd been hoping to find some cool barrettes or maybe a poster of her favorite band, BoyFrenzy. So far, she'd had no luck.
Gran moved on to the next stall and started poking around in some cardboard boxes. Ali hurried after her. It was so hot! Maybe after this Gran would find a nice lemonade stand.
"Look at this, Ali!" Gran smiled. ''Isn't it wonderful?''
Ali stared at the dusty, dirty object her gran was holding. It didn't look that wonderful to her.
"It's a Lava lamp," Gran explained.
"Well, it looks pretty ancient,'' Ali said. She'd seen Lava lamps at the mall.When the lamp heated up, the colored wax inside moved and stretched itself into fantastic shapes. But this lamp looked as if it had given up long ago. The wax looked hard as rock. The liquid surrounding it was a murky blue, and what had once been bright pink was now the color of old bubble gum.
''That's because it's an original model," Gran said, brushing off some of the dirt. She peered at the bottom of the lamp. "I bet it's from the sixties.''
That did sound pretty ancient. But Ali didn't want to point that out to Gran.
"And you know what?" Gran said, her blue eyes twinkling. ''My first boyfriend gave me one exactly like this for my seventeenth birthday!''
Ali grinned. She loved looking at photos of her gran when she was a teenager, with her black eye makeup, miniskirts, and big hair. Suddenly the dirty old lamp seemed much more interesting.
"Who was your first boyfriend, Gran?'' Ali asked. She couldn't picture her with anyone but Gramps. And Gramps sure didn't look like a boyfriend.
"Oh, I had so many, I can't remember!"
Gran winked at Ali. ''Actually, it was Eddie Norris, who lived next door to us."
''What happened to your lamp, Gran?" Ali wondered out loud. Then she gasped. "Maybe this is the very same one Eddie Norris gave you all those years ago!''
"No, it can't be." Gran shook her head. ''My lamp got broken when your mother decided to play soccer in the living room."
Ali stared at the lamp and then felt for her flower change purse. It would be great to have something from the sixties that reminded her of Gran. And if she cleaned it up, it would look really cool. She could put it on the desk in her bedroom.
Gran saw the look on Ali's face.
''Would you like it, love?" she asked.
Ali's face lit up. ''Oh yes, please, Gran!"
Gran beckoned to the man who was working in the stall. ''Excuse me,'' she said, holding up the lamp. "How much do you want for this?"
The man looked surprised. ''That old lamp? It doesn't work, you know.''
Ali felt a bit disappointed. She'd been looking forward to trying the lamp out when she got home.
"But it's an original," the man went on hastily. "A bargain at six bucks.''
Gran raised an eyebrow at him. "Three?'' she said very sweetly.
The man thought it over. ''Okay, three.''
''Then we'll take it," said Gran. She whipped out her purse. ''Don't worry, love,'' she said to Ali. ''Your mom might be able to fix it.''
Gran was always bringing her fleamarket treasures over to the Millers' house and asking Ali's mom to make them work.
''Or Jake might be able to break it," Ali pointed out. There was no way she was letting her little brother–otherwise known as Bulldozer–touch the lamp.
Gran handed the man three dollar bills. ''You know I'm no good at fixing things,'' she went on, wrapping up the cord and giving the lamp to All. "Did I ever tell you about the time I took my grandfather clock apart? When I put it all back together again, the hands went backward instead of forward!"
Ali took the lamp and stroked the cold, dusty glass with her hand. She really hoped her mom would be able to get it to work. A Lava lamp that didn't light up wasn't nearly as cool as one that did.
Then again, it had only cost three dollars. "You get what you pay for," Gramps was always saying.
"Looks like you're my Saturday treasure," Ali said to the lamp as Gran took her hand and they wove through the crowded flea market, pulling their treasures in a metal cart behind them. If only they could find a lemonade stand, Ali decided, things would be perfect.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Little Genie: Make a Wish by Miranda Jones. Copyright © 2004 by Miranda Jones. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.