Charlie and Jay are mending fences – though I’m not sure Jay grasps that there are any to be mended – so I use the time to walk the town of Osterville. Less than three hundred people call it home, and the old paper mills were closed and shuttered decades ago. No one comes here to buy a home, no one can afford to just leave and start over. People say they can, but the past clings like regrets, the air whispers of promises waiting their fulfilment and music stations and TV shows blaze out of windows against the light as much as the dark.
A town too small for a magician. A town in need of one.
I walk, the magic sending out whispers of its own. Easing pains, shifting griefs, lessening the load of living. For a time, for a short while. Breathing space in which people can breathe again. I move, and the world changes with each movement. Small things, in small ways. I gather silence and shadows about me so no one sees me, walk the town twice with slow steps. I could do more.
I have done far more in my time. Shifted time and space, burned new patterns into the old skin of the world. But each time costs, and costs again, and I pay and I pay until some days – not today, but some – it feels that all I am is a payment. Cashing cheques until the bills come due. And if I were to stop, to bind myself to one place – I don’t know when another would wander. How far they’d go. How long they would last in their wandering. So I hold the burden, and I walk, and I touch the town in all the small ways I dare to.
Magicians help, but it never feels like enough. The world pushes against magic, reality resists the weight of dreams. We do what we can, tell ourselves it is what we must. We don’t dare to be more, for fear of the bill that would come to. For the price that others would pay. I fix two cars, continue to walk. Some days I want to stop. Just be still, taking root like a tree, a giving and a receiving. Finding balance in a world that offers none, that insists I be a balance for others.
It’s been so long since I’ve been just me, and not the magician as well. But I have promises to keep, and oaths to hold onto. I can’t get go of the magic, I can’t cling onto it too tight. So I walk a third time, easing more pains on my way back to the RV. Charlie and Jay are having a tickle-war, and part of me wants to join. To relax. But I can’t let my guard down.
Not around Jay.
Not knowing what I know.
Because I made a promise, and I intend to keep it.