Monday, September 02, 2013


Reality is never what people think it is. Everyone knows all solid things are empty space, but no one really thinks that. Reality is like that: there are empty spaces, and into them come things. Others. Creatures not native to our reality. Some are alien, some hostile, some lost, and if magicians have a purpose it is to bind and banish what is needed to bind and banish. The dangers grown from the world are something else altogether.

Their names, judging by the screams over picket fences, are Ethel and Thelma, and their dispute over a missing garden rake lite more than new clothing over old skin. The past is seldom what people think it is either. It's rarely neat, not all tidy and often not very past. An old wound festers between them, a story told by one seen as a lie by the other that time and distance has twisted into a tangle I can't begin to unravel.

If anyone asked, they would unite in derision at claims that this dispute is part of any other they have had and they would believe it wholly and truly as only beliefs that one knows are wrong can be believed. The past bubbles up between them, all unspoken truth and bitter regret. I can smooth it down: I have magic enough for that, even if it would not last. Nothing lasts, perhaps especially not magic. I could even tell them to forget and give them no choice about it, but they would lose part of themselves, because this bickering to each other had come to define them as much as other things do.

I could fix it with time and effort: insinuate myself into their lives, seeing deep into secrets even their hearts have forgot, but there's never time enough. I weave enough magic to touch their children, and their children after that, strengthening their own desires and needs to let them see without seeing and know without knowing, so that the hatred will go no further, so that the past will die with Thelma and Ethel. It isn't much, but better than nothing.

I walk away down the road in the direction of away and try not to think too hard about damage even magic dares not fix. Someone with enough power could have bought them new homes, thrown gifts at them – a reality TV show, or a lottery – and caused the past to die that way. Magic doesn't work that easily and I know, to my cost, not to try and force such things. So I ignore the urge to push, to meddle, to try and undo harm that has not become so much a part of them that its loss could well destroy them. I can remove illusion; I cannot offer new ones to replace it with and sometimes that weakness to my magic is a deep and ugly wound all its own.

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