Wishes For Real People

Prologue

I am not sure what magic is, but I know it exists somewhere. It exists in a place that is hidden behind white curtains in the dark early morning. Most people don’t even think to check there, but somehow I did; I heard them whispering my name like a secret.
I’ll let you in on the secret if you promise to keep it sacred. What you must know is this: magic is hidden in every day places—places that are so insignificant in the dark, wide cosmos, that it is almost laughable to find it there. That is the thing about mysticism; its sense of humor is painfully ironic. Make sure you check behind rusty mailboxes, underneath your mother’s pillow, on highway pavement at three in the morning, and at the tops of drunken trees (where Magic can be seen squatting barefoot on a thick branch, wearing a mischievous smile).
Now, do not think of the supernatural as society has taught you: it is not harmful or bad in nature. In fact, magic is the more rebellious cousin of love. It can only be inspired through great desire for goodness. Where does it come from, how can we call it to our aid? I don’t know, in all honesty. All I know of magic is that it comes to me, wafts in the wind like cigarette smoke, and tangles in my hair like warmth or a song. All I must do is watch and listen.
The most important thing to remember about magic is that it may only appear with a wish. Do not wish on a star, on a time of the day, on a flower, or with a coin in a fountain. You may pray to god, too, if you’d like, but a prayer is simply a wish on your birthday candles. Do not wish on these old superstitions; wish in your heart, with every ounce of love you can muster. Wish with unstoppable desire and passion, and maybe somehow you will find what you are looking for, or it will find you. Magic is always watching, fluid and fleeting, bursting with potential. And that is simply what magic is: an answered wish.

I. Anton

I was quiet
too quiet for comfort
said most.
I was only an observer of the colors and the people and the sounds and hidden meanings and defeated eyes.
There was no need to say anything because
this was my world
and I could feel everyone I saw
deep inside of my chest
but did not know how to explain it
to those who questioned my quiet mouth
that was always agape as if a voice needed to speak out
but was caught in the spider webs of my disorientation. My dissociation.
I felt their truth
though they did not know.

The first time I noticed
I could really hear,
I was a young girl.

I liked to walk through
the green green cemetery
on cold winter days
on my way home from school,
admiring the oldest graves
with reverent Scripture
written on molding stone
and
mourning for
the newest shiny headstones
with freshly dug soil
lying before them.
There was an older man on a bench beneath the tree
a lot of days.
He sat bundled in an oversized coat
always a red scarf wrapped
around his face
and a lantern in his gloved hand
though it was daytime,
the sky clear from the dances
and swirls of histrionic clouds.

There seemed to me
an allure
about grief.
Sadness so deep
it tears open the fabric of what is real but unnamed
creating
wounds
where passion learns
the humility needed
to turn hope into change.
He seemed to know the allure of grief. I could tell because
a graveyard is no place for change, and grief does not change,
only becomes more often-ly vague.

So,
I saw this man
many days
walking home from school.
Many stared
but I saw
him.
We knew each other
by time and sight.
I walked through
the cemetery most days, though I had never lost a loved one.
He sat on that bench
every cold, windy day and became, himself,
a gray grave among the others.
I knew he had lost someone;
he had lost the one who his soul knew
before life had even begun,
and would know again after.
We were both cemetery-obsessed. There is something
scary to most about death.
But me and the old man, we
were not scared of dying—we were
barely alive; we were the Spirit
trapped in fleshy prisons of a world
called Earth, unknown.
We were so entranced that
we preferred the company
of buried monuments
and leftover thoughts.

There was one particular day I’ll always remember:
it was the day I knew that magic had finally found me.
It was also the only day
that Anton and I ever spoke to one another.

For a few weeks one December, I walked
the cemetery pathway each day—I was looking for the old man.
He hadn’t been there on the bench, as usual,
for three days in a row. That had never happened before.
I found myself consumed in worry all throughout
the school day. My quiet nature left me with
zero friends, though I knew everyone in my class,
and they knew me. So, this became my obsession,
and I fretted every hour for those weeks, and became positively
frantic each day that the bench came into my vision
and was empty, empty, empty.

On this day, he’d finally made a reappearance
and I felt relief in my legs like an earthquake had made the tendons
holding me together
into messy squiggles on a piece of paper.
I did not know why I felt so much about it.
When I came to the curve in the pathway and
craned my neck to spy the bench,
he was there!
And, when I came closer he held up his mittened hand
in a subtle wave. I was surprised.
But I waved to him, and stopped where I usually
crossed his path silently.
He removed the scarf that was draped over his nose and chin,
and said,
“You see that grave over there—Sofia Clifton?
How has she been?”

“Fine,” said I, “I saw her every day you were gone. She wasn’t worried,
I don’t think.”

“Good. Good.” His voice was hoarse, gruff.
“I see you, too, ya know.
I see more than you.
Your empathy is a pink light shining out of your chest. Most humans
won’t try to see it, though, kid. I know
that if you knew that you should look,
then you could have the song inside—it will make you see.
Listen, and your eyes will see.
I knew you would see Sofia for me while I was sick.
Just make sure you look, look underneath.”

He reached out his hand to me without another word,
I looked in his eyes for the first time, and they said in my head,
“Put your hand here, kid,” so I did.
I put just the tips of four fingers upon his
and the swirls in our skin became geometric patterns
in my mind
and they were all kinds of sounds like music, too,
and lights and space and time was a beachy shore.
Everything was a Nothing and Nothing was Everything, but
Everything was surely equal to Nothing, and I was both, more than everyone,
and I was everyone and they were me.

And then his fingertips pulled away from mine,
and he stood warily to walk home
in the opposite direction without another word.
I stood. I stood insurmountably.
Some box had been opened, an enlightenment,
and whispers in the air became clearer. I heard the voices,
I heard the songs,
they were in every place and they were only in my head,
but my head was sure that
the reality of humanity was
not mine. The Earth was a graph—time too—and there was
nothing I did not know because I had been touched by
magic,
which told me that I knew nothing. Magic is everything
when it knows nothing. I was magic, now, just as I knew could be.
I knew I could be, because I was filled with a quiet sadness
that was not worldly, and was unnamed by language.

From that day, I did not see Anton again,
but I heard him in the wind once
he finally had his headstone next to Sofia’s.

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