Energy flows all around us all the time. Learning how to manipulate that energy to work in your favor is an art and what some might refer to as magic. Anyone can do it, but I have a special gift. Energy responds faster to me than anyone else. Even the elements have been known to obey my thoughts and commands.
If I was ever given the choice between doing good for the world and creating complete and utter chaos, I never thought I would hesitate at the choice. Seems like doing the greater good is, in fact, the only choice a kind and decent human being would choose… but it wasn’t that easy. Too much had happened that caused me to question everything about absolutely everything. I stared at the powerful demon in front of me hell bent on destroying him before the demon beside me could attack.
It had suddenly begun to rain as I walked home. There had been nothing in the weather reports that suggested the sudden waterfall. There weren’t any clouds or thunder either. It wasn’t unusual, really. Sudden cloudless downpours were common during the rainy season in the desert, but the fact of the matter was that I was trapped outside in it without any kind of protection from getting soaked. That’s when I saw a little store. I ran up to the awning and saw it was a metaphysical store. I’ve never been one to believe in magic and the idea of an entire store loaded up with trinkets dedicated to its practice filled me with so much anxiety, but I couldn’t very well stay outside under the waterfall.
I took a deep breath to settle the butterflies before walking into the odd store. A tiny bell on the glass door chimed and I was greeted with a strange smell. The modest store was cramped with cases both filled with and covered with stones on pewter sticks, statues, and gems. The only statue I recognized was a small gold colored Buddha on the case nearest the door welcoming me with a smile and a wave.
I carefully made my way around a tower of greeting cards hoping not to hit my purse on anything only to tap my knee on a display of rocks in a variety of colors. Each set of rocks had its own little enclosure and a label. I recognized the rose quartz right away. I had gotten a heart shaped one as a gift once that still held a place on my dresser. No surprise that the label said one of its uses was for love. The solid green aventurine rock was new to me. The label had said one of its uses was for money.
I continued around the store. There was a shelf full of books on magick (spelled with a K), Wicca and Witchcraft, magical herbs, and tarot cards. A particularly large white book labeled Encyclopedia of Spells caught my eye. I huffed at the selection and moved on seeing yet another glass case, this one with a cash register on top. The case was filled with odd shaped pendants that each held a different colored stone wrapped and framed in silver and there were beautiful bracelets with similar themes. There was another interesting silver looking piece that had seven stones, each stone a different color of the rainbow. Something about it just sort of held me to it for a moment.
“It is called a chakra wand.” An older woman with white streaks in her black hair stood behind the case and smiled at me. She had a strange sort of accent, like English was her second language. Maybe she was from Columbia or something.
“Ah.” I nodded and continued looking around.
There was a smoking little stick stuck into a long slab of wood next to the register. At least I found the source of the odd smell.
“Can I help you find something?” the lady asked.
“No,” I quickly replied. I realized that my statement may have come out harsh and revised. “I mean no thank-you. I only came inside to escape the rain, you see.”
“Yes, I see.” She smiled and nodded sweetly. “Please feel free to look around as much as you like.” She spoke slowly and pronounced every word carefully so I would understand. “Girls your age tend to come in looking for love spells,” she pointed to a room behind me. “So I created a display right back there if you are interested.” Her R sounds rolled fluidly from her tongue.
“Um, thank you.” I gave her a sort of bow—I don’t even know why—and backed away from her. I saw her smile before returning to the back.
The store wasn’t exactly what I expected. I suppose I thought there would be a cauldron with some potion brewing and a black cat with large yellow eyes watching my every move. I definitely didn’t expect such a sweet looking woman. It was pretty much just a regular store that had more product than space and sold to a particular clientele. I let out a deep sigh and started breathing normally. There was nothing to fear and I felt stupid for thinking there was.
I stepped down into the room and saw a turning display of candles also in different colors and sizes. I wondered if the pink candle was like the rose quartz and was used in love spells. It would make more sense if the red candle was used. I started thinking about the colors of Valentine’s Day. Red and pink are both used.
I glanced up and met my reflection in a mirror. My rich brown skin glistened in the fluorescent lighting and my deep brown hair—that once was straightened to perfection—waved from the moisture and had begun to frizz in the places where it was dry. My mascara had run a little around my large round eyes. I looked like a drowned rat and was glad this wasn’t a full sized mirror. I darted my hand into my bag and tried to look somewhat presentable cleaning the make-up with a tissue.
“I have not seen you here before.” The sound of the old woman’s voice behind me made me jump.
“I…I don’t normally walk this way home.” I found a hair tie in my purse and started pulling my hair back into a high bun.
She smiled at me. “I have something for you.” It was strange how she said that particular line of words. Different. Lilting.
I reluctantly followed her back to the case with the register trying not to breath in the smoke from the stick. She went into the back for a moment and returned with a wooden box the size of a shoebox. She placed it on the counter and I saw a star inside of a circle burned into the lid. I traced the lines.
“The pentacle,” she said. It was as if she could sense my confusion.
She opened the box and showed me a small book—maybe a five by seven size—that had a hard wooden cover and filled with old looking pages. I felt my hand get warm when I touched it. My heart started to race and I quickly released it with a soft thud. Next to the book was a little black pouch. The woman grabbed the pouch and opened it to reveal a triangular silver pendant with a polished white stone in the center. She smiled before placing it beside the box and shoving them in my direction.
“What?” I looked back at her confused but she simply put the lid back on the box and stared at me. “Wait, I can’t take these without paying.”
“You do not have to pay for something that is yours,” she said sweetly.
“What do you mean? Mine? I don’t have anything like that.”
“You are not going to make an old woman beg, are you?” She pouted.
“But….” I dropped my head in defeat.
She picked up the necklace and reached over the counter sliding it carefully over my head. “This will protect you.”
I held up the pendant and looked at its perfectly polished surface. “This is too extravagant. I can’t accept it.”
“It belongs to you,” she insisted. “I am only returning what is yours.”
“Well, then maybe you have me confused with somebody else.”
“In a way,” she laughed. “This belongs to you. It has always belonged to you and will continue to be yours until the end of time. You are the next custodian.”
“Custodian? What do you mean, like a janitor?”
“A protector of the magical world.”
I scoffed. “I don’t even believe in such a thing! I don’t have any magic. Nobody has magic. The very idea is just ludicrous!” I could feel my heart punching inside of me with total fear. Even though it would appear I didn’t believe a word she was saying, everything inside of me was screaming that she was telling the truth.
“Please, calm down.” She led me around the case to the back room and into a chair. “Just breathe.”
“Just absolutely crazy, just crazy,” I said mostly to myself.
She gently rubbed my shoulder. “Surely you knew this of yourself.”
“You have to be lying to me. You just have to.” I grabbed the pendant ripping it and the chain from my neck tossing it to the ground. “You’re insane! There’s no such thing.” I was shouting. I could still feel it was true no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise.
I jumped up and started to run out. When I reached the door, I turned back to look at her still smiling face. I felt a little better knowing my shouting and sudden movements didn’t give her a heart attack. She didn’t seem the least bit fazed. She just waved at me as I shoved through the door to leave.
The rain had stopped sometime while I was inside, but the ground didn’t show any signs that there ever was a storm. I couldn’t even smell it in the air. I just kept moving as quickly as I could until I reached home.
I walked through my front door going through my usual home routine. I placed my bag on the floor next to sink and poured a glass of cold water from the fridge. I drank it quickly hoping the brain freeze would help me forget about the incident. I had no such luck. A cold shiver ran through me as the water made its way through my body, or maybe it was the wet clothes. I stared out the window in the kitchen with the empty glass in hand. What was that old woman talking about? How could she believe so much in magic? It didn’t exist, right?
I let my mind wander to escape my ordeal remembering a time one winter as a child when all I wanted was for it to snow. It was unseasonably warm and felt more like spring in the middle of December. My Dad had told me there was no moisture of any kind in the forecast and to stop letting it get to me, but I was convinced that if I wanted it bad enough, it would happen. The next morning, my front yard was covered in snow, but no one else’s. It was melted by the end of the day, but the point was that it snowed. I was convinced then that I had powers, but my Dad practically beat that idea out of me. They never wanted me even thinking about things like fairies and unicorns let alone telling people I had powers.
Looking out the window with the memory intact, a few flakes fell from the sky. At first I thought it was just the cottonwood puffs being blown from their trees by the wind as so often happened (though not always lasting to the end August), but after closer inspection saw the large white flakes float to the ground and actually stick without melting.
I jumped back from the window dropping my glass, the crash vaguely resonating in my ear. “That’s not possible.”
I ran outside around to the side of the house to a pile of gathering snow and put my hands in it. Sure enough it was cold and melted in my hands. A few cool flakes touched my neck and melted down my back.
“That’s not possible!”
“What’s not possible?”
I turned quickly toward the sound of the voice. Ricardo Ortega stood by the corner in his stupid T-shirt and stupid jeans both too big for his frame with his stupid uncombed black hair flapping in the breeze. I had forgotten he was coming over to help me with a Science worksheet. I hated needing his help, but he was the only person who knew how to explain things in a way I fully understood. I suppose I could’ve just settled for a B in the class, but I hated those more than I hated him.
“Is that snow?” he asked.
I wanted it to disappear so bad I could taste it. I held my hands over it trying to hide the pile from him not knowing what to do about the stuff falling.
“Why would it be snowing? It’s like eighty degrees outside.”
“What are you hiding?”
“Hiding? Why would I be hiding anything?”
He walked over and moved my hands. The pile was gone and the only things falling were normal white puffs from the cottonwoods, something far more believable than snow.
“See,” I said. “Not hiding anything.”
He tilted his head slightly scrutinizing my movements. “You look like hell.”
I rolled my eyes. “Like you should talk.”
He offered his hand to help me up, but I slapped it away. “Well, whatever. Let’s just get this done.”
Rick followed me inside. He stood in the front hall with his hands in his pockets scanning the décor. “Nice house. You live like a princess.” He lifted a statue from the hall table and examined it before putting it back.
“I am not a princess.” The comment came out sharp. I adjusted the statue until it was in its exact proper place and took in a deep breath. “Would you like something to drink or a snack?”
“Uh yeah, a soda if you got it. Some chips would be nice too.” He followed me into the kitchen, the first opening on the right.
“I was thinking more along the lines of carrot sticks and water.”
He scoffed. “Well why didn’t you just ask me if I wanted rabbit food then?” He really did get on my nerves.
“I have orange soda if that’s okay.” I gestured to the table for him to sit. “My step-mother is quite fond of it.”
“Sure, sure. Hey, what’s with all the glass over there?” He pointed to the floor.
I jumped and grabbed a kitchen towel to help gather the pieces into a pile. “Don’t worry about it. Had a case of clumsy hands, is all.” I worked frantically to clean the mess. “Just sit down. I can handle it.”
He stood over me watching me work. “A perfect princess like you having an accident? I don’t believe it.”
I growled to myself before pushing by him to the sink. I opened the cabinet underneath and removed the blue recycle bin and dustpan combo.
“Why are you wet? Did you get into a fight with the sprinkler?”
I rushed by him again to the mess and down to the ground without saying a word.
“I can help if you want. You seem seriously rattled.”
“I’m fine!” I snapped tossing bits of glass into the bin and shaking out the towel. I reached all around the area with the towel until I was satisfied it was clean and then swept the smaller pieces with the little hand broom. I would have to give the entire kitchen floor a proper cleaning before dinner.
After returning the items to their proper place, I took a deep breath trying to compose myself. I returned to the fridge and grabbed a can of soda and a bottle of water before placing them on the table. “Would you like ice?”
He reached out and grabbed my hand. “You cut yourself. Do you even know how to be careful?”
I jerked my hand away and turned back to the sink to clean the wound. “I asked you a question.”
He popped the top on the can and took a loud, deliberate slurp before sitting. “Uh, no. Let’s just get this started.”
We did the worksheet in mostly silence. He loudly crunched the carrots, practically spewing food everywhere from his open gullet and slurped his soda. I was always amazed, however, at how well he knew the material since the notes that were stuffed recklessly in his binder had no sort of order.
“Do you believe in magic?” Rick asked nonchalantly breaking our mostly silence.
I dropped my pencil and looked at him. “W-why would you ask me that?”
“No reason, I guess. It was just a question.” He shoved another entire baby carrot into his mouth and looked back at his paper.
“Why would you ask me that? Questions like that don’t just pop up out of the blue.” I froze in my chair averting my eyes on my pencil like it was going to roll away.
He scrutinized me. I could feel his eyes boring into my skull, judging me for being so apprehensive.
“You sure are jumpy. Kind of stuck up too.”
I glanced at him. He had a smile plastered across his face.
“I am not stuck up!”
“Sorry, Princess, it was just a question.”
There was that word again. “No. I don’t believe in magic.” I picked up my pencil and continued with the worksheet snapping the lead with the pressure.
I heard him clear his throat, most likely trying not to laugh. I glanced up at him, but his face was normal. He caught me staring.
“What is it, Princess? Need help?”
“No. I—I thought…never mind.” I looked away and tried to steady my bouncing knee.
There was a moment of silence.
“You thought I was laughing at you?”
I looked at him again and the corner of his lips lifted to a crooked a smile. I found myself a little flustered.
“Why would you ask that?”
“Does it matter?” he said.
“I wouldn’t have asked if it didn’t matter.”
“Have you ever heard of the beings in the magical world?”
“What like dragons and unicorns and whatnot?”
“Sure. That’s a start. What about the fae, or fairy folk?”
“Where are you going with this?”
He shrugged. “Just making conversation.”
“This isn’t the type of idle conversation that just happens, Ricardo.”
He smirked. “I did have an agenda. I’m just not sure how to tell you about it in a way that won’t upset you or make you think I’m crazy.”
“I already think you’re crazy so just come out with it.”
He took a deep breath and started to say something, but there was a strange sound coming from my bag. I watched as a pointy little green creature emerged with the book I thought I left at that crazy store.
I gasped. “What is that?”
Rick quickly stood. The creature took off with the book tucked away in its pointy elbows and wrapped in its arms. Rick took off after it. The creature laughed showing its pointy teeth as it bounced around the kitchen. Rick was athletic, but there was no way he could possibly catch something so quick and nimble.
“Ashe!” Rick called out. A creature about the size of a cat materialized out of nowhere. It had a long, cat-like body and looked like a white fox with super long tubular bunny-like ears, grayish blue socks on its feet, and the same color on the tip of its fox shaped tail.
The pointy smile left the creature’s face when it saw the white fox cat and took off out of the kitchen and down the hall. The little fox cat took off after it with incredible speed.
“What’s going on?” I said.
Rick ignored me choosing to chase after his fox cat.
There was a crash in one of the upstairs rooms and then Rick started shouting. I ran up to see what broke and heard rustling from my room. When I got through the door, the little creature waved at me, wiggling his pointy fingers, and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
I looked at Rick. He was kneeling and holding his fox cat in his arms. The animal was screeching an ear piercing shrill and its foot was bleeding.
“Give me your hand!” Rick ordered.
“Don’t ask questions just do it!” He grabbed my arm and pulled me to him placing my hand on his fox cat.
“What are you…?”
He shushed me. “Just take a deep breath and concentrate on helping Ashe.”
I didn’t understand what he was saying to me, but he was really upset. The howling of the animal made it clear it was in pain. I didn’t like hearing it in pain. I felt helpless and wanted it to be okay. More than anything I wanted it to be okay.
My hand felt warm and little gold colored balls of light came out wrapping around the animal and concentrating in the wound. The screeching started to subside and the creature calmed down. Rick held his face close to it whispering something in its ear. It made a growling sort of a purr sound before squeaking. Rick released my hand and the gold bubbles disappeared.
“Thanks,” he said. He made a sniffle and cuddled the animal close to his face. “She dropped her guard. I haven’t been training her like I should.” The fox cat squeaked and licked his face. She looked up at me and squeaked in my direction.
“You’re welcome…I guess.”
Rick made a low laugh. “I didn’t think you were the compassionate type.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. Forget I brought it up.” He stood up and looked me in the eyes. “Thank you. Ashe is my most dear friend. She means a lot to me.” Ashe jumped up on his shoulder and rested her paws on his head.
“Will you tell me what’s going on now?”
He reached up and scratched Ashe behind one of her giant ears. “All done, Ashe.” She squeaked and did a back flip from his shoulder disappearing in a puff of smoke. He took in a deep breath. “What I was trying to tell you earlier is that I’m your guardian?”
“Your magical guardian, protector, and guide to the magical realm. You are a direct descendant of a seriously powerful witch and the best custodian in human history.”
“Witches? Magical guardian? What are you talking about?”
“I’m trying to explain. How can you not know about your magical roots?”
“My parents never told me about any magical roots. They don’t even like the idea of magical anything at all.”
“Okay. Well a custodian is a protector of the magical world, like the leader of the fae.”
“Fairies, gnomes, you know, the wee folk.”
“Did you hit your head?”
He chuckled. “I knew this would be difficult but I didn’t know you were so ignorant of the magical world.”
“I am not ignorant!”
“Of the magical world,” he stressed. “Did you not hear me say that part?”
I crossed my arms. “So tell me about it.”
“Okay well there’s this evil being who goes by the name of Morlar, leader of the djinn.”
“Djinn? Are they like these wee folk?”
“Uh, no. Just like there’s good and evil among people, so are there good and evil in the magical world.”
“And djinn are evil?”
He let out a sigh. “More mischievous than evil, sort of like Coyote.”
“What does a coyote have to do with anything?”
“Not a coyote. Geez, how do you live out here and not know a single Native American....” He drifted from his thought. “Look, all you need to know right now is that Morlar wants to rule the magical world and he can do so with the information in the book that boggart just stole.”
He ignored my confusion obviously tired by it.
I stared at him. I didn’t believe a word he was saying to me, and yet…. “So, what’s in the book?”
“The book contains a wealth of spells acquired over the years. There are spells to give you more power, one to take them away.” He watched me, gazing my response.
“I don’t have any magic.”
“You just healed my summon creature and earlier today you made it snow.”
I gasped. “I did nothing of the sort.”
He smiled and shook his head.
I looked around my room. Papers had been thrown from my desk and around the floor, books were pushed from the shelves, clothes were haphazardly tossed about, my bed was no longer pristine, and my ceramic cat bookend was smashed to pieces. One sad emerald colored eye stared up at me.
He followed my gaze. “Oh, sorry about that. I’ll help you clean it up. I know you’re a neat freak.”
“Don’t bother.” My voice was breaking.
“Did…did it mean something to you?”
“It was my grandmother’s.”
There was a moment of silence.
“I should’ve been more careful,” he said.
“Yes, you should have.”
He let out a heavy sigh. “I’ll, uh, I’ll leave you to it then and see you tomorrow.”
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“I’ll see myself out.”
I listened to his footsteps head down the stairs and out the door before I slumped into a heap on my floor and cried.