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Prose

A Diary of Everyday Magic

17 July 2018

On my scribbled to-do list is the task: “reacquaint myself with magic.” Then an arrow coils past “catch up on W9 lecture” and “finish Part C stats” and connects to “in the world, myself, etc.”

It’s been some time, and getting to know magic is slow progress.

In the golden morning light, steam ribbons up out of the kettle—silvery genie-breath—and this is my first sign.

A problem: I don’t think I do believe in magic? But I want to believe it, and it seems that it being real is very much predicated on me believing in it, so it’s all very circular and leaves me half wanting to be logical and half… wanting. Just wanting.

Cross-legged on the floor, I give my house-fern a haircut, snipping at the deadness. Close to the black damp soil, tiny new shoots curl in on themselves, green glowing delicately off them. Luminescent, nascent.

I go to the library for a book on palmistry. Back in year 11 psychology we used to participate in ritualistic burning of phrenology and palmistry books. “Pseudoscience, pseudoscience!” we chanted, a warm feeling of contentment spreading through us as we realised that we budding psychologists were different from those charlatans because we used something called empirical evidence. I’m sure the physics class across the corridor also had a lesson about how physics is a legit science. Look, I’ll fight people who say psych isn’t a science, but at the same it’s pretty funny to watch its perpetual identity crisis and the whole discomfort re: what to do with Freud and his phalluses. I do feel some trepidation about borrowing this palmistry book, but then again—I’m just borrowing it. I find it in the mysticism section (which is upsettingly close to the science section) and discover it is far bigger than expected. No way is this thing gonna fit in my bag. There’s no squirrelling it away out of sight as was my plan, so I carry it around in the open like a hippie. “I’m just curious!” I want to tell people passing by who have neither the interest nor the visual acuity to figure out the book title. I’ve brought it home but am yet to read it because I’m concerned my life line will tell me I should’ve died a couple of years ago, which would be a nuisance.

I think about the word “obsidian” and how it’s one of the best words ever. I write it in capital letters in my notebook, then scrawl over it again, the letters a bit bigger this time, then again. I find a big piece of paper and in a moment of cheerful chaos I fill it with OBSIDIAN. Everyday magic, you know?

While knitting, an adrenaline-spiral thrills through me to think of the blanket which will one day exist from my current work, and the warmth I and people I love will get from it. Then I feel like a dork for experiencing a wool-induced adrenaline rush.

It’s a funny sort of battle, loving something and then constantly reaffirming its silliness.

In the dead of night something wakes me up with its rustling. “Must be faeries,” I think, and consider offering up teardrops for them as a sacrifice. That might be dangerous. My thoughts leak back into the pillow. Turns out, it was actually a mouse which chewed a hole through the bag of Lindt chocolates stored under my bed. It then managed to unwrap and eat every chocolate in the bag (except the white ones which apparently it didn’t like). Side note: it appears it’s not really socially acceptable to publicise that there’s a mouse roaming around your room. Still, I’m rather fond of my magical mouse friend, even if she isn’t a faery and ate my chocolates. At least she didn’t develop an appetite for palmistry books.

While researching tarot cards (out of interest), an ad pops up for a free tarot reading—not a scam—with three options: a reading for love, luck or wealth. Although I have no intention of clicking it, I ask myself which reading I would ask for (just for fun). Almost immediately, I dismiss luck and wealth; I’d only ever ask a psychic about love. Then I go into psych student mode and ask myself why. Maybe I feel in control when it comes to my career and money. Love feels like it’s out of my hands, and in fate’s (note: maybe something I should work on?). The cards might not be magic (they probably aren’t but I don’t want to say that because what if they are but only work if I trust them?), however because of them I learnt something new about myself, so if you think about it, they kinda did work in the end. Take that, scientists.

My friend video-calls me and even though she’s on the other side of the world, it’s somehow a 2am conversation for both of us. We talk about politics and being exhausted of politics and dogs and people we went to school with, and I gleefully put the phone next to the typewriter so she can hear it clack. We talk about religion.

“Okay, okay on a scale of zero to 20, how much do you believe in God?” she asks in such a way which suggests that the zero-to-20 scale is officially sanctioned by theologians. She herself claims to be completely non-spiritual and can’t understand the whole thing. So I ask what she believes about love, whether it’s purely a combination of chemicals in the brain, existing as a survival mechanism—or something more.

“God, no, I’m not that cynical,” she replies.

Later on it occurs to me that nobody can scientifically prove that chemicals themselves aren’t magic. But mostly because nobody can scientifically prove anything.

I go for a walk. Above, on the telephone wire, sits a two-dimensional bird. The neighbours’ roses are weeping dewdrops for joy. I swivel my head side to side; I want to see everything on my street from every angle, see every plant in every garden and every freckle of sun on every roof tile and every falling leaf in every moment of their fall. I’ll never see as much as I want to see, no matter how hard I look there’ll always be something hidden from me.

I think, perhaps, the magic’s in the not-finding.


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