Monday, August 13, 2018

Is Magic Real?

It started a few weeks ago. 'Mama? Is magic real?'

'Yes,' I said too quickly and instantly felt guilty. 'You're magic,' I continued. 'So it must be real.'

'No,' she said, sitting up in the bath. 'I mean real magic.'

'Like what?' Please don't ask about the tooth fairy. Please don't ask about Santa.

'Like the magic witches do.'

'Well,' I floundered. 'I'm not sure that there's real magic. There's energy. Like - if you think things. Like - when you walk into a room and you can feel someone has just been there. There are fields. Nothing is sure...'

Who am I to say whether magic is real or not? At our friend's wedding a close magic guy joined three friends' rings together - POUF!, then put them in Matt's hand and got him to close and open it - POUF! They were unjoined. 'Magic!' I shouted, and believed it. David Copperfield made the statue of liberty disappear. Once I had a lucky penny on an unbreakable cord around my wrist that disappeared the moment I got an au pair job in Paris. The cord was unbroken, the penny simply gone. POUF! 

She didn't bring up magic for a few days. Her bottom right tooth wobbled.

Then, after lights were out: 'Mum? Is the Switch Witch real?'

I had overheard one of her friends recently talking about a witch who comes in the night and turns your toys to rocks.

'No,' I said. 'Definitely not.'

To my surprise she started to cry.

'Why, did you want her to be real? She's mean!'

'You leave out stones in the night and she turns them into lollies!'

'No,' I gritted my teeth. 'That's just the parents doing that.'

'Then what about the tooth fairy?'

Fuckfuckfuck. 'She's real,' I said. Didn't think. Fuck!

'What about other witches?' she asked.

'Which witches? The ones that fly through the sky on broomsticks?'


'No, they're not real,' I said, thinking this would console her.

She started to cry. Really cry.

'What, did you think there were really witches flying around out there right now on broomsticks? 

She nodded and kept crying a heartbroken cry.

'You want there to be?'

More nods.

'I don't understand love, why are you crying so hard?'

She just kept crying, like someone had died.

'Well,' I said finally, 'There are witches. Not ones that fly around in the sky. Ones that live on the ground and dress up in cool clothes and put on lots of makeup and do spells and stuff.'

She stopped crying a bit.

'I have a friend called Kate. In the day she works in a call centre. Then at night she is a witch and she has witchy friends and they get dressed up and do spells and all kinds of things together.' This was true. In 1999. But still, true. Kate also had this amazing eye that swelled right up in its socket when she was drunk.

'Can I be a witch? I think I have powers.'

'Of course you can.'

This consoled her, for a few days. The tooth came out and the tooth fairy came without so much as a query.

But then this weekend, the witch was back. At my cousin's 40th there were helium balloons attached to the floor with little weights.

She tapped me on the thigh. 

'What is it love?' I bent down with my wine glass.

'This is the best day of my LIFE!'

'Really? Why?'

'I am magic. Look!'

Focussing all her energy into her little fingertips pointed towards the balloon, she began to vibrate all over.

'Rise!' she commanded. The balloon didn't rise. 'Lower!' she said. The balloon didn't lower. She focused harder. The balloon swayed a little in time with her movement.

'Wow!' I said.

'I can't WAIT to tell dad,' she said with a serious tone.

The next day she mixed a potion. 'I'm going to go through the mirror in the loungeroom, and enter Lollyland,' she said. 'For this. I need feather of bird. Leaf of tree. And, one lolly. I must drink the potion. Is this acceptable?'

'I don't know how I feel about you drinking feather of bird. The pigeons out there are pretty manky. Can you just dip your fingers in it?'

She nodded and went about collecting the objects. 

A few hours later, in the lounge room, I couldn't look. 

I put the clothes in the dryer to block out her sobs for a moment while I gathered my thoughts. Am I a terrible mother to let her go on believing? Do I have the right to burst her bubble? Is it my responsibility to break it? 

I gathered her sobbing, crumpled body in my arms. 

'It didn't work!'

'I know sweetie. But did you think it would work first go? No witch's spell works first time.' Fuck, what are you saying? 'You have to practise the witchy arts. They take time and skill.'

'I just so wanted to go to Lollyland!'

'Why did you want to go to Lollyland so much?'

'To eat some lollies!'

'Well I have some in the cupboard. Let's just eat those and watch Spy Kids 2. Then you can practise again later.'

The time is coming. Oh, yes, it's near. But I refuse to be the one to tell her magic isn't real. That David Copperfield just moved his audience slightly to the left. Because what about the penny? What about so many things?

I refuse to even believe it. 

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