I have decided to participate in Writers Island. The prompt this week is – MAGIC.
Here is my story:
At night Sarah watched from her bedroom window. The house across the street, where the woman lived. The one they called the Sorceress. She wore woodland colours – moss, plum, walnut. Her hair was an auburn cape. Sarah had never seen her eyes, she was afraid to look in case she became bewitched.
The sorceress lived in quietness in hidden rooms but people came and went at all hours. Sometimes there was laughter, all beauty, plunging headlong into the garden, leaning forward like a child taking his first steps. Sometimes there was the delicate sound of weeping, painful as rampant ecstasy, causing havoc.
Sarah watched in fascination, waiting for secrets to reveal themselves; setting up a camera to tape the goings-on while she was at school. Thoughts rushed as she watched the tapes while doing her homework, colours flashed, thrust into the corners of the room like imagined creatures.
A black cat appeared on her window-sill, jumping from the laurel tree, sleeping with one eye open. Sarah tried to shoo him away but he wouldn’t budge. Her mother invited him in, fed him Norwegian sardines from a tin. He left smudges on the rugs like soot from a chimney, or ashes from a cauldron.
One day a package was left on the doorstep, wrapped in a red cloth, addressed simply to ‘The Girl.’ Sarah opened it. Inside was a note that read : It exists.
Another package turned up a few days later. It contained a bag of rocks, black and grey, smooth as gems. The note that accompanied it read : Let the rocks form as they may to know where it lies. Sarah was perplexed. What was it that existed and where did it lie?
Sarah poured the rocks onto her bed – there were more than a hundred – pondering what the note could mean. She had emptied the rocks out but they had formed nothing but a dusty pile, marking her eiderdown. The cat came into her room, smelling of fish, cast his eyes over the rocks, then disappeared through the window. Her mother called her down to dinner, she placed a scarf over the rocks before leaving the room, not wishing to explain their presence to her mother.
After dinner a hush descended. The moon was full. Silver white. Sarah stood by the window watching the house of the sorceress. She was convinced the packages had come from her but had no idea what they meant. A woman with unkempt hair and lush berry lips arrived at the sorceress’ door, pausing to look up at Sarah’s window. Sarah gasped, ducking out of sight, stumbling backwards onto her bed.
The scarf lay flat on the bed as if there was nothing beneath it. There were footsteps on the street and doors slamming; the heightened whine of a truck engine. Her mother was talking on the phone, swirling gin and tonic in a tall glass.
Sarah plucked the scarf from the bed, threw it on the floor. The moon shone on the eiderdown. The rocks glowed like the eyes of watchful birds. They had re-formed while she was at dinner. Into a recognisable image. Into a face. Her face.
On her dressing-table table stood a sketch, a side profile done in ink. Her side profile, drawn by her father on her last birthday. The rocks mirrored, with frightening precision every nuance of the pen.
She ran to the window. A removalist’s truck stood outside the house of the sorceress, filled with furniture. Sarah ran downstairs, wrenched open the door and found a note in a spidery scrawl that read : Don’t be afraid, child. It exists. It lies in you. The magic.
Sarah ran to the footpath as the truck pulled out from the kerb. She ran to the house of the sorceress but it was locked up, silent. ‘Wait,’ she shouted, holding the note up to the darkened sky. ‘Tell me what this means. I want to know more.’
A piece of glass lay on the road, clear as tears. When Sarah held it up to the moonlight she saw that it contained a single word etched there by the tiniest of hands. A word which, when spoken, charmed her before she could object. One word – BELIEVE.