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Schoolyard Magic

Joshua Curtis Kidd loves narrative in all of its forms. He is a former resident of Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, currently living in Los Angeles. In 2016, he attended the Viable Paradise Writers' Workshop. He spends his spare time taming the magical beast saccharomyces cerevisiae. You can find him online at: joshuacurtiskidd.com or on Twitter at: @joshcurtiskidd

Brady Coleman joins a crowd of kids in the park after school to watch Jed Martin make two toy robots fight using magic. The simple, plastic toys don't have batteries but, when Jed waves his wand, they begin to take slow steps toward each other. Punches land with the sound of groaning metal and sparks burst from mangled joints.
"Whoa," Brady says along with the other kids. "Oh, man!"
Brady wishes he could have a wand like Jed's, but his family only has one wand and Brady isn't allowed to use it.
Later that evening, when Brady is at home and Dad returns from work, his parents argue about who gets to use the wand.
"What do you need it for?" Dad asks.
"I want to cast some spells over my potted herbs to keep the squirrels away," Mom says.
"It would be great if we had two wands and didn't have to share," Dad says. "But that's why I need to use the wand tonight. If I can finish my project, maybe I can make enough money for us to have two wands. Who knows? Maybe we can even get Brady a wand."
Dad takes the wand and disappears into the garage. He emerges later with a small wooden doll that he sets on the floor. Dad turns on the radio and the doll begins to dance across the floor, moving in time with the music. Shadow, their cat, hisses at the doll and tries to swipe at it with her paw. Everyone laughs.
"I should be able to sell this for a lot of money," Dad says. "We'll all be rich soon."
Kids aren't supposed to bring wands to school, but Jed does anyway. He's creating a small cyclone of leaves in the schoolyard during recess. Brady only notices because he sees some other kids looking in Jed's direction. As Brady watches, the leaves slowly come together in the shape of a person.
"Ms. Squire," Chad Jacobs yells. "Jed has a wand."
Brady groans. The magic had been so cool and Chad is the biggest tattletale.
Jed lets go of the leaves and swings his wand around to point it at Chad who starts choking like he's got something caught in his throat.
Ms. Squire has already looked over and, when she sees what's going on, runs straight at Jed. She takes the wand from his hand and breaks it over her knee. Chad stops choking.
"That was an expensive wand," Jed screams. "You'll have to pay for it."
"You're coming with me to the Principal's Office," Ms. Squire says, dragging Jed inside.
Ms. Squire misses school the next day. All of the kids are happy because they can do whatever they want when there's a substitute. When she ends up being out for more than a week, Brady starts to worry. He tells his parents about it at dinner.
"I heard about the incident with the teacher and the wand," Mom says. "But I didn't realize she was your teacher."
"Did you see what happened in the schoolyard?" Dad asks.
Brady tells them everything and they just shake their heads.
"I can't believe they would fire a teacher for protecting a kid," Mom says.
Brady didn't know that Ms. Squire had been fired.
"That kid Jed Martin, I bet he's a real brat too," Dad says. "I know his dad. He's a piece of work."
"Jed does a lot of cool magic with his wand," Brady says.
"Listen to me, Brady," Dad says. "You're better off staying away from a kid like Jed Martin."
Brady goes to the park after school, but only a few kids are there.
Jed has a new wand and he taps stones with it turning one purple, the next orange, the next green. He taps a stone and it's got tiger stripes. He taps another and it's got leopard spots.
"Wands are so cool," Brady says.
"You think wands are cool, Coleman?" Jed asks. He's never said anything to Brady before. "This wand sucks. It's a kid's wand. It can't do anything. With a real wand, I could turn that stray cat over there into a tiger."
"No way," Brady says, thinking how awesome that would be.
"You don't believe me?" Jed asks, missing Brady's enthusiasm. "I'll tell you how to do it and you can try it yourself."
"But I don't have an adult wand," Brady says.
"Just steal one of your parents' wands," Jed says. "Point it any cat and say: 'In. Ter. Fake. It.'"
"And how would I change it back?" Brady asks.
"Just say the words backwards," Jed says. "But I bet you won't do it. You think kid's magic is cool. You're not ready for real magic."
While Brady is doing his homework in the living room, he sees Shadow sleeping in the corner. If he turns Shadow into a tiger for just a minute while she's sleeping, that wouldn't be too dangerous.
Dad hasn't come home yet and Mom is outside, so Brady sneaks up to their bedroom and takes the wand off of their dresser.
Back in the living room, Brady takes a deep breath. He points the wand at Shadow and says the words.
But nothing happens.
No. Something did happen. Shadow's chest isn't going up and down anymore.
"Shadow," Brady says as he shakes the cat, but Shadow doesn't respond.
"No. No. No," Brady says, but not so loudly that Mom would hear. He points the wand at Shadow and says, "Ti. Kafe. Ret. Ni."
But nothing happens.
"No, Shadow," Brady says. "Don't be dead." But he knows that Shadow is dead and he's the one who killed her.
"I'll fix this, Shadow," Brady says. "I'll make this right."
And he takes his parents' wand and breaks it over his knee.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018
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