What happened to all the magic? I’m not talking about tricks of light or sleight of hand, I’m talking about real magic. We all used to know it – from the 43-year old businessman who sits in his office working until twilight, to the tired taxi driver who grows sick of looking at the same route, to the young twitching woman who drinks to while away sadness, to me, to you. You think I’m kidding, but if you think about it, I’m sure you can remember.
Magic powered your cape as you flew from couch to couch. Magic made it rain after every rain-dance. Magic transformed banging pots and wooden spoons into a wild rock band. Magic made everything just a bit more awesome. But somewhere in this confusing space of elusive time and hurried youth, we forgot it. The infinite universes we once believed in turned small, planned and tamed into neat sections. We traded in our capes and rain and rock band for laminated schedules and respectable haircuts. But I have hope! Because magic is re-learnable; we just need to tap into it. For me, I like to hop in my time machine.
I’ll admit that I was not the most punctual 7th grader. Luckily, Oishee wasn’t either. On the first day of school, I ran into Mrs. Sismondo’s English class nearly ten minutes late. Oishee rushed in a few seconds later. By now, the class had already been seated. Because we were late, Mrs. Sismondo assigned us to the pair of seats in the back corner. We introduced ourselves in that awkward middle-school fashion and sat down in silence. When class finished early, Ms. Sismondo would let us have free time. I was reading Charlie Bone and the Hidden King when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Oishee smiled and slipped a piece of scrap paper towards me, “You read Charlie Bone too?” I smiled back and the rest was history.
From then on, Oishee and I continued our correspondence—scraps of paper here and there. We made our own stories about Charlie and his gang and swapped them with each other. Every week, I’d expect whimsical stories about Gabriel Silk and a mysterious velvet coat or about Lysander Sage’s enchanted grey parrot or about Emma Tolly’s excursion to an invisible castle. Sometimes, Oishee would write stories completely of her own fancy. She always wrote on loose-leaf paper, so parts of her stories would be as wrinkly as the raisins we shared at lunch. I decided it was high time she collected her stories into a proper notebook, so I gave her one in which to write her dreams.
Oishee finished the entire notebook within weeks of receiving it. She handed it back to me, now covered in green and purple script and doodles in orange highlighter. To this day, that notebook remains one the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. Inside the thin covers were delightful reveries of dancing crickets, laughing beasts and maidens-made-rebels. By the end of 8th grade, we began to write stories together about a spunky pair of best friends named Cheery O and Poison Ivy. For when we felt boldness, Cheery O and Poison Ivy would be spy partners fighting against evil ostrich-stealing bandits. For calmness, Cheery O and Poison Ivy would sit on the tops of Mount Everest to look at the stars. For transcendence, Cheery O and Poison Ivy would become a pair of birds flying toward an unknowable destination. With the help of Oishee, I became a magician in my own right.
The time machine hums and cools, and I’m back. I’m a bit lightheaded from crossing the dimensions of time and space, but it feels good. Curious warmth circulates from the tips of my toes to my pulsing veins to my bones. I say it’s magic.