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Craig Towsley | Terri Kelleher

You wake up in the middle of the night and remember that when you were ten, you had magic powers.

Your wife mumbles in her sleep and rolls over, taking the blankets with her. The faucet drips in the kitchen, echoing in the night’s empty stillness. You wrench a corner of a sheet free and draw your knees to your chest, trying to keep warm.

You are thirsty. You get up for a glass of water. The floorboards creak as you move down the hall. You remember when you were ten, you woke one night and found your older sister in the kitchen. She sat on the floor, leaning against the refrigerator, knees drawn to her chest. She was crying.

She hasn’t heard you because one of your powers lets you move silently.

You remember feeling like this was a secret you weren’t supposed to know. You walked back to your room, but couldn’t fall asleep. You wonder if you should have said something.

The next morning your wife asks you what’s wrong and you grumble you didn’t get much sleep. She says to watch how you talk to her. You sigh and chew a mouthful of cereal as she leaves for work, slamming the door behind her.

You remember being ten again, and eating breakfast and hearing voices on the front lawn. You turn on your super hearing and listen through the window. Your parents and sister are fighting, again. Creeping to the window, you looked up and saw them playing tug of war with her knapsack, the big one, the one she used for camping trips. It bulged and the contents gurgled against the fabric as each side pulled towards them. You remember thinking the bag looked how your stomach felt the last time you had the flu.

You are going to be late for work.

You jump in the shower, towel off, get dressed, run out the door, run back and make sure it’s locked, then around the corner to bus stop, just in time to see the bus speeding away.

If you still had your super speed you could catch up to it.

You start walking. The wind is cold and bites at your cheeks, and even though it should be spring, it still feels like winter.

At work, you slouch down in your chair, hoping no one looks over the cubicle wall or sneaks up behind you, as you wait for lunch. You used to be able to manipulate time, turning the clocks back ten minutes if you had to take a bath and your TV show was still on. You could speed it up, to get out of school faster. Those two hours, between after school and before your parents got home from work, were your favourite. You and your sister would dance to her records. You think about her smile.

You remember hearing the door open, and slam shut, and your father was already yelling. You tried to rewind time, but for some reason, you couldn’t. He said to turn the music off and come downstairs. You went down and said hi and he said not you, your sister. The two of you passed each other in the stairs and you thought about reaching out and touching her hand, but you didn’t.

They were in the kitchen, yelling about something, you snuck up and tried to listen but your father opened the door and told you get back upstairs. You couldn’t understand how he heard you, because you were using your magic sneaking powers.

Your lunch is bland, chewing is tiresome. You stare at the computer monitor.

You make it through the day. You catch the bus with too many other people heading home from work. You try to read, but you keep losing your place, and the bus lurches at lights and stops, sending elbows into your ribs.

No one is home when you get there and you remember how the same thing happened that one time when you were ten. You looked all over for your sister, pretty sure she was hiding, waiting to jump out of somewhere and scare you. You turned on all your magic powers, to be prepared. You checked the basement, the pantry, your parent’s closet, all her usual hiding places. You thought maybe she was stuck at school, again, so you tried to move time forward, but nothing happened.

When your parents got home, they didn’t yell. They didn’t say anything. You told them your magic powers didn’t work anymore, hoping they knew why. They told you to eat your dinner. Later, when you were in bed, your mom came by. You asked her where your sister was and she said she was gone away. Then she turned off the light and closed your door.

You laid in bed, concentrating, focusing, channeling all your magic, trying to make your sister reappear. You did this every night for the next few months.

She never came back, and you stopped believing in magic.

About Craig Towsley

Craig Towsley writes flash fiction, but earns money by writing for video games. He lives in Montreal with his wife and dog.

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