Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week the prompt based on the following opening sentence, which every member of the Spot Writers used to begin their piece: Every day of the week I toe the mark, but Sundays are different. On Sundays, I throw the book away and do my thing.
This week’s story comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series for kids, For Whom My Heart Beats Eternal, a sci-fi romance, and Faulkner’s Apprentice, a supernatural chiller for grown-ups. Find out more at www.valmuller.com
Every day of the week I toe the mark, but Sundays are different. On Sundays, I throw the book away and do my thing. A magician’s blood always flowed through my veins, after all; it took but several decades of frustration for me to admit that.
When I first started working for the government, I told myself it was just a temporary setback—something to keep my bank account afloat until the economy picked up and I could go into business for myself. Besides, my parents would have killed me—going to college, racking up four years of debt, all to become a magician? It wasn’t steady income. It wasn’t steady work. It involved travel and auditions, constant mental focus and worrying about the next gig, and did I want to live in my parents’ basement forever? Didn’t I ever want to get married? Have children of my own?
That’s what my parents asked me, anyway. Threatened, more like it. They just never understood the thrill of it—standing in front of an audience, heart pounding in anticipation, eyes remaining calm lest they reveal the foil. The look of wonder on the audience’s faces, the applause, the accolades, all for me. Mom and Dad never understood what it was like to float on top of the world.
My parents had always been bean counters. The office each day equals nice, steady pay, Dad used to sing as he went out the door. I never could imagine how he would enjoy himself sitting in an office all day, doing paperwork. As a kid, I asked him what he did, and he never could articulate it quite. I’d come to understand he shuffled paper. I’d come to understand he was replaceable.
But a magician is hard to replace. A magician is unique.
Life happens, though, and to avoid living in my parents’ basement, I became a paper pusher, too. Each day spent within the cubicle, each day a bean counter. The paperwork. The reports. I could go a whole day without having to use my brain. I was just a warm body. The dull conversations. The fundraisers in the breakroom for the co-workers’ kids. Talk of weekend gardening or vacationing at the shore. So mundane. Talk of the way the new markers bled all over the file folders, or why the copy machine jammed on rainy days. Nothing like standing in front of the spotlight with every eye scrutinizing your every being, trying to figure out secrets they would never see.
I never did find a wife. I couldn’t settle for someone so content with the mundane as my parents were. I promised myself never to settle for anyone who didn’t share my sense of adventure, even if only on the inside. Mom and Dad died without grandchildren, and I grew old without a child.
It was after Dad’s funeral that I started spending Sundays in the park. At first it was just a deck of cards I used, sitting at the chess table there under the oak. I attracted spectator after spectator. Then I started with the tricks. The guessing games, the magic balls, the rabbit-from-the hat. From dawn ‘til dusk I spent Sundays entertaining spectators, most of them children. I watched their eyes, imagining what my own children might have looked like. Imagining where I might have met the love of my life had I followed my dreams instead of taking my parent’s path to safety. Would it have been on a tour? Perhaps in Europe? Maybe on a Vegas stage?
Last Sunday I saw her.
There was a little girl, but I swear in her eyes I could have been looking at myself as a six-year-old. She could have been my daughter, or my granddaughter. I plucked a pink rose from behind her ear and presented it to her. I looked up, then, and made eye contact with a woman around the same age as me. She smiled at me, a hand on the little girl’s shoulder protectively and proudly.
“My granddaughter loves pink,” she said. She smirked—almost as if to hide a blush. “I always did love magicians,” she said. “I had a dream when I was young to join the circus.” She giggled. “But we all have those silly dreams, don’t we. Still…” Her eyes glazed over for a moment. She was far away. Then she came back to reality. “I’m sorry, Mister…”
“Kramer,” I said, using my middle name, the stage name I made up for myself when I was seven. “Kramer the Bold,” I said.
“Kramer,” she said, offering a hand. “Thank you for the flower. Maybe we’ll see you around. Are you here often?”
I smiled and pulled a purple rose from behind her. “Sundays,” I said, presenting her the flower. “I do my thing on Sundays.”
The Spot Writers- our members:
Catherine A. MacKenzie