Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Magic Words




Brian held Hammy in both hands. Hammy was cold, unusually still. He wasn’t always active- during the day he’d roll into the sawdust shavings in the cage on the opposite side from where he’d leave the looped droppings. At night his rustling was quiet enough for Brian to get some sleep, as long as the wheel was kept oiled. But today he hadn’t emerged for his slice of apple, Hammy was dead.


It was quite cold in Brian’s room, and he nudged Hammy’s grey fur with his knuckle. Made the psp-pssp-psp noise which sometimes coaxed him out of the toilet rolls he’d hide in. Still nothing.


It upset him. Even though his mum had told him hamsters don’t live very long, he’d grown up with the familiar smells of the cage. Two whole years. He’d been only seven when he’d asked her what “dead” is, and had been rather confused with her talk of golden roads and clouds and angels and something about lovely feasts with roast beef and apple pie. He didn’t like beef. The chewy gristle gave him the chills.


Apple pie, though, that was something he could get into. The little family always had some leftovers after Sunday lunch, but he wasn’t allowed to have seconds. It would be put in the fridge for tomorrow’s supper, and he’d have to ask very nicely to get some. “What’s the magic word, Brian?” his mum would ask. “Abracadabra!” he’d reply as part of their ritual, and they’d all laugh.


Please. He knew the magic word was really supposed to be please, but he hardly ever saw his mum smile anymore, so the laughter was welcome. Ever since he’d gone to camp last year and his dad had moved out by the time Brian had come home (even though he’d moved back a week later), the house had become like his local library; whispered conversations that he couldn’t hear.


The camp had been awful. It had been his first time away from home, and the constant noise of the other kids had seemed intimidating. Then, on the last night, the teacher had told ghost stories. He hadn’t slept at all. He shuddered as he remembered one in particular, The Monkey’s Paw. How the old couple had used the mystical paw to wish their dead son back to life. And regretted it.


He shuddered again. Then paused. His mouth was open in surprise at a sudden thought.

He didn’t have a monkey’s paw but he did have another trick.


“Please” he whispered into Hammy’s ear.


Nothing happened.


“Please!” he called out, as if magic is made more so by volume.


Even less happened.


Brian shrugged. He’d go back to the pet man on his next birthday and get a tortoise. Tortoises can live a thousand years, he guessed.


He placed Hammy back in the safety of his cage and turned to pick up the library book he’d borrowed. It was quite a difficult one, but his mum had said that he should read out loud to help get the hang of new words.


“Taxidermy for beginners”, he read, and imagined himself wearing a magician’s cape.


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This post was written as part of a tandem blogging exercise/experiment. Five other bloggers have used the same title as a prompt, and their work will go live at the same time as this. None of us have seen anyone else's posts yet, so each will take a unique angle on their blogs. Please take a look at their creative efforts at blogging 'Magic Words' and like, share and comment if you've enjoyed what you read, too!




Cath Jenkin

8 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow, Scott i REALLY dig this piece... well done.

    Loved this: He’d been only seven when he’d asked her what “dead” is, and had been rather confused with her talk of golden roads and clouds and angels and something about lovely feasts with roast beef and apple pie. He didn’t like beef. The chewy gristle gave him the chills.

    But then the whole ending from camp to the tortoise to the book. This is just a phenomenal story. Well done.

    Love brett fish

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  2. Hahahahahah! I love this! So dark and beguiling! Well played, Scott!

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  3. You dark and devious writer, you. I caught myself gnawing on my hand and then laughing as it ended. Thank you!

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  4. Kids just shrug and move on... or do they? Thank you Brett, Dave and Cath!

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  5. I absolutely love this. Thank you.

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  6. Nice twist. :-)

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  7. Thanks for being part of this, Mandy (or co-creating it!).

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