Card tricks. Illusions. Sleight of hand. Daring escapes. Misdirection. Trapdoors. Custom-engineered rigs. All tools of the trade for a magician. So as I made the ball disappear up a sleeve, coins appear out of ears, swap places with an assistant through a door, and even more elaborate, spectacular tricks, I did nothing that a well-practiced magician on Vegas couldn't do. This was not real magic, though many claimed to have that ability.
Magic was real, though. I never used much, and almost always on a trick most thought they could explain, or at least one that was so ordinary as to not be worth real magic. But the most ordinary circumstances required real magic.
Today I selected a girl, perhaps five years old. My assistant Regina guided the girl and her father up on the stage. Age was important. The father would likely believe it a trick, but the girl would know better. The young could still believe in magic.
"Hello there," I offered my hand to the father, "I'm Will."
"Pleased to meet you, Jeff. And who are you?" I knelt down to the girl's level, who clung to her dad's hand looking as if she wanted to duck behind his leg.
"This is Carrie." Jeff responded.
"Hi, Carrie. I'm Will. Carrie, do you like flowers?"
A sheepish nod.
"I thought you might. Let me see if I can find some flowers for you somewhere." I checked my sleeves, my shoe, and then behind Jeff's ear. "Here's something. Your dad was hiding them. But wait, these aren't flowers, these are seeds," I showed the packet of rose seeds to her. "What would your dad be doing with rose seeds in his ear?
She giggled. "I don't know."
"Me neither. Well, I promised you flowers, didn't I?"
"And seeds aren't flowers, are they?"
She shook her head.
"Well, maybe you can help me make them grow. Then they'll be flowers. Can you hold out your hands for me like this?" I cupped my hands together in a little bowl. She let go of Jeff's hand to do so, some of her shyness melting away.
"That's good. Okay, here we go." I ripped open the packet and poured a dozen seeds into her hands. Jeff had the look of a practiced skeptic, watching my hands, ready to see how the trick was done. "Now, Carrie, I want you to look at the seeds and start wishing them to grow into flowers. I directed my voice back to the audience. "You good people, too. I'll say wish three times, and you say it with me, and on the third wish we'll have our flowers."
Now was the time. I cleared my thoughts. I took the shifts one at a time, layering the on top of one another.
"Wish." I counted with upraised fingers. First, Earth with its grounded, heavy thoughts and perception of the world soaring by speedily.
"Wish." Next came Water with its flowing ideals and easy nature.
"Wish." Finally, Light, brilliant with energy and life. I poured the power of all three into the seeds, shaped it, and the magic happened. Instead of a quick switch for full grown flowers, instead of the light dimming and darkness covering illusion, I let the magic flow. A pin prick of light, like a tiny golden sun, hung over Carrie's hands for an instant, then the seeds began to grow. They burst from their seedcoats and grew into stems bearing flowers the burst into full blossom: reds, pinks, whites, and striations of each. Each rose perfumed the entire stage, and morning dew clung to each petal.
The theater erupted in applause, including Jeff's, but my eyes were on Carrie as her wide eyes took in the real magic.
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