Monday, February 13, 2017

A Moment: timestamped

“I could stop you.”

I don’t look over from tossing my visa and a fake ID into a bag, make sure I have my worst clothing on. “You could. There won’t be many people there.”

“Jay is going to follow you,” the wandering magician says softly.

There are things that loom large in the world, and then there are those that should but don’t. Hidden things. Secret things. Magician things, but others as well. Jay is eleven. He is also from far, far Outside the universe and could, on a very bad day, likely unmake the entire universe. I try not to think too hard about that. About what it costs to travel with him, about how much we try to protect him from. Innocent is armour, but not always. Not always. Sometimes I think it’s a chain as well. “I know.”

The magician nods. “Even the fae might not be able to hide the result of Jay being at a rally, Charlie.”

I look at him. “Do you want them to?”

He smiles. There is almost nothing of a magician in his smile, and I have some idea in that moment of what it costs him to do nothing. “I have no idea anymore. A magician’s power is small things, subtle workings. Jay is far much more. If I go, I would shift events when I should not. Need. Desire. Will.” He falls silent for a moment, staring off into some memory I know nothing of. “I will keep Outsiders and monsters from feeding off of events, from making things worse.”


“They can always be worse.” It would sound like a cliché, if it wasn’t him saying it.

“The town isn’t that big. The protest won’t be that big,” I say, to myself as much as the magician.

“I know. Keep Jay safe.”

I nod and head outside, and he is beside me a moment later, saying he feels bindings and knows I’m doing an adventure and that of course means a Jay can help.

“Charlie?” he says after I don’t reply.

“It’s not that kind of adventure, Jay.”

“There are lots of adventures that feel like something else,” Jay says firmly.

“There are?”

“Like when food pretends it’s not food and!” I almost smile, but Jay stops me with a sudden, hard hug. “And going to places with lots of messy bindings is a dangerous adventure but that’s important too!”

“It is. You have to promise not to fix any of them.”

“That’s going to be really hard,” he whispers.

“I know. But sometimes being present without being jaysome is as important as being jaysome,” I say.

Jay blinks, scratches his head. “I think you went postjaysome, Charlie?”

I laugh, soft, surprised. “Maybe I did. Come?”

He nods, and walks beside me. The world stops. Even Jay stops, which I didn’t thin could be done.

The entity before me is tall and pale, young and ancient. “There are few incidents that draw me to a place in person,” it says.

I shudder. I’ve seen this entity once become. Seen more of it. “You’re Time.”

“Winter, if you like. Among other names.” Winter’s voice is soft, kind because Time can afford to be kind. “Trying to get Jay to be not jaysome in this way has drawn me here.” Winter embodies Time, making this Power perhaps as old as the universe. It sounds unsure for a moment. “Even I have no idea what to make of this.”

“A memento?” The words slip out. I’m always sarcastic when I’m terrified.

“Perhaps. A moment, seen and known. A time.” Winter laughs, and the sounds reminds me a little of Jay. “A time stamp, by Time. A moment known and preserved. This is very dangerous.”

“I know.”

“And very brave,” he says, to Jay, who grins. The rest of the world is frozen, but Jay is free of it and beaming proudly.

“I am really good at being brave,” he boasts. “Also, stopping me tickled you know!”

“Ah. Of course it did.” And the Power of the universe is gone, and time moves again as if nothing dared impede it.

I shiver, but Jay is holding my hand. Waiting. To learn how to witness without casting any judgement. I only hope I can somehow teach him what we both need to learn.

Secret Diary Entry #5


He’s not older than me by much, being only eleven and peers at me in the doorway of the house, and I almost think the door opened before I touched it.

“Hi, I’m Jay!”

“You’re my babysitter?” I demand.

“I’m not sure? Cuz I kinda met Kyle and he told me where he was babysitting only you aren’t a baby. Unless that’s a really good disguise?!”

“I’m seven,” I say firmly.

“Oh. I’m eleven,” he says proudly.

“I know,” I say and I wonder how I did. “Where is Kyle?”

“He’s having an adventure, but!” And Jay flings the word like a weapon, “he might not think so because of the giant snakes! Things don’t stop being adventures just cuz they’re scary, you know!”

I stare at him. He grins and even my mom and dad have never grinned at me like that. I step back and let him in despite everything I was told in class about strangers. He’s not a stranger.

“What do you and Kyle do, Asham?”

I never told him my name. I’m almost sure of that. “He lets me eat ice cream for supper.”

“Really?! I’m not allowed to and that’s pretty sad.”

“No, I – that wasn’t true,” I fumble.

“But you said it.” And he looks so hurt I fall back from it. “That’s really rude if you’re lying to a Jay.”

“I’m sorry. I just – I didn’t mean to –.”

“Oh. Okay,” and his grin is back like something I’ve done nothing to deserve.

Jay orders pizza for supper for us, eating two entire pizzas by himself and watching two movies with me. I think I head something outside for a second, like the dog next door, only nasty, but it stops a moment later and then the doorbell rings and I barely see Jay move.

“Hi,” he says.

The man who comes in looks at me, then the living room. He looks ordinary, like Dad, only his eyes aren’t ordinary at all. He looks about the room like mom looking for places where I’ve tried to hide toys. “Jay. Charlie told me you were babysitting.”

“Uh-huh! I’m really good at it,” Jay says happily. “But it would be better if we had adventures!”

“I imagine so, but Asham’s parents might not approve.”

“I’d take care of Asham. I’m good at taking care of things, Honcho.” Jay says.

“I know. But Charlie wants your help dealing with the army of frogs from last night. From when you were really good at looking after frogs.”

“Oh, okay,” and Jay is gone. Not fast, simply gone.

I rub my eyes and the man walks over. “You’re all right,” he says.

I nod. “Jay did a good job. We had pizza and –.”

“I know.” He smiles. “I’m glad things worked out. But talking to other people about Jay could get – complicated.”

Jay says words that are joy; his are warnings, quiet and firm. I nod.

“Is Kyle okay?” I blurt out.

“He’s fine. He might not remember tonight, however.” Honcho smiles. “You will, because Jay would be sad if you don’t. And sad if you try and hurt Kyle with this knowledge.”

I nod. Sometimes Kyle tells me to do things I don’t like, and maybe I would have said things. Now this Honcho knows I won’t. “What about mom and dad?” I ask.

“I’ll talk to them.”

I nod, and head upstairs, and I hear mom and dad come home later, but later still there is a knocking inside my head that wakes me up in strange ways. And Jay says hi, and we have adventures and I’m not sharing those with my diary ever.  

A Magician’s Walk

People talk about dawn and dusk as though they were times of power. They wax lyrical over the gloaming and daybreak but there is no time that doesn’t have power, no moment that doesn’t carry meaning. You can find meaning in anything if you look hard enough, and power too if you desire it deeply. Eleven o’clock in the morning is a good as time as any other and I’m finishing removing rust from the underbelly of a car when I hear a cough behind me. The owner of the car is occupied inside with a phone call, and it is easy in the morning to make wards in the morning so that I am not noticed by other people.

But no magic is perfect or it would be something other than magic. I turn and find myself staring at a tired-looking woman in her early twenties who studies me frankly from dark eyes that don’t blink enough. “Can I help you?”

“I do not think so. You are the wandering magician? This town has no magician,” she adds quickly. “It is too small and had one been born I would have felt it or been told by others. But there is a magician who wanders the small places with no magicians to call their own, and I am assuming you are that one?”

“I am, yes.”

The Outsider nods. I have no idea how far Outside the universe she is from, nor what her real form is. I could find out; I don’t press the issue. She licks her lips. “There are stories about you. The Grand Canyon. Angels and demons in the state of Washington. The fae,” added even softer. “And that you travel with power as well.”


“You are removing rust from my neighbour’s car?” she asks.

“The events – the stories – are things I do. Who I am is this. Wandering, offering small helpings. Little miracles and quiet magics.”

She stares. “You do not lie, but you are more than that.”

“I am when I have to be. Are you?”

“No.” She shakes her head. “I am a graduate of the Deep School and forbidden to be more. I work as a waitress, to better fit in with humanity. I am not sure if this is a punishment or not, however,” she admits.

“How long have you been a waitress?”

“Seven years.”

“There are other worlds you could pick,” I say dryly.

“I would be penalized for leaving this one, questioned and judged both. But it is hard to serve when too often service is taken as other things.”

I nod. I’ve never worked in a restaurant, but I’ve eaten in enough. “You wish for aid?”

She looks startled. “No. That would be noticed.”

I smile, reach through the bindings I have with Jay, and the Outsider blinks as bindings flicker about them and vanish a moment later. “That should make people be a little more jaysome too you.”


“Jay made the bindings.”

“I cannot sense them at all, even though they have become part of me.” The Outsider shivers slightly. “I rather wished those stories about you were not true.”

“Jay can be scary even though he never intends to be.”

“And you?”

“I always intend to be scary when I am.” I smile, to blunt the truth, and the Outsider walks away as I finish removing rust from the car, walking down the street and touching the world with power.A ladder straightens here, an argument shifts into other directions there. Small magics, but I live for the days when I never have to do anything else. When it is just me and those who need help, when almost none of them will sense my coming or going.

The best magic remains the kind people are never aware happened to them at all.