Entertainingly Evil

Magic Life by J.R. Johnson

To my boyfriend I am magic. He watches me dance or sing and he says “Oh. O! Amelia, you are magic made life!”

Sometimes, I almost believe him.

My boyfriend isn’t bad either. Joshua is smart and funny and kind. He warms up the car on winter mornings. He tries to cook.

I like that he is as dead to magic as it is possible to be. No chilly reminders of childhood.

I do not introduce him to my family. I pretend that I have never heard of real magic, nor would want to given the choice.

I wish I had that choice.

The one thing he will not do is clean bathrooms. Some block from childhood perhaps? His mother spoiled him, but that part I do not say out loud.

That leaves me. I dust and scrub and mop the old Victorian we bought for a song. I also clean the bathrooms (three! we are very lucky) and when Joshua comes home he says, “Oh, you are magic!”

As if there were no effort involved. As if I shouldn’t be better than scalded skin and sore hands, shouldn’t be able to whisk the dirt away with the flick of a finger. There’s only so much of that a girl can take.

And so one day, after a morning of scrubbing and mopping and dusting, I call the town newspaper. It is a venerable old publication with extended ties to the community. Traditional, rooted in the old ways.

Like my relatives going back seven generations, all of whom claimed more magic in their little toes than I. I remember the stories.

I talk to an elderly receptionist named Roselyn who giggles when I tell her what I need but helps me take out a classified. For the low low price of two dollars and fifty cents per line, my ad reads:

“WANTED: Brownie. Large home in need of care. Traditional pay, no gratitude. 72 Dumas Circle.”

I do not include a phone number.

The paper comes out in the morning. Nothing.

I go about my business.

The next day, the same nothing. My boyfriend notices a dust bunny, laughing because he thinks it is cute. He names it Fluffy. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, all the same. Detritus accumulates, clothing and other accouterments drifting, dune-like, into the corners of high-ceilinged rooms. I avert my eyes when I open the compost bin. The weekend barbecue scraps wax ripe and rancid.

I ask Joshua to purchase a pint of the best local cream, rich in grass-fed milk fat. “In case of cats,” I say.

Monday, I wake to the comforting drip of fresh coffee in the pot. The bathrooms sparkle and the laundry smells like my favorite cardamom bread.

I do not look around. I do not give thanks. I do fill a small ceramic plate with cream and place it on the counter.

Joshua staggers from the bedroom (he is not a morning person) and takes his first gulp of coffee. A deep, satisfied exhalation and he says it. “Oh. O! Amelia, you are magic.”

I smile.

I agree.

And he believes me.

J.R. Johnson finds speculative fiction appealing because she likes the idea that there is more to the world than meets the eye, and that the human race has a future. She now lives and writes in Ottawa, Ontario. For more on her latest projects visit jrjohnson.me.

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