I can’t sleep. Note, this is not an unusual fact of life, but there it is. I am up awake again looking at where the moon should be. There is no moon of course, only the dark and feathery clouds that have blocked the moon for the last three years. I remember because it started on my sixteenth birthday. On that day the moon rose, and shone full for all of an hour before the clouds came out. I was outside, looking at the moon with my mother when the clouds started to gather, one by one. Looking no more than wisps, or the seeds of a dandelion. It kind of crept up on you. Then it was covered.
Not a lot of people noticed the moon of course. But my mother and I had looked at each other and shivered when it happened. My mother and I aren’t really witches (we’re not much of anything). We live day to day trying to get by. I go into the village and keep watch over the childlings for a bit of money. My mother tells stories, and villagers will leave her presents.
Note I say villagers, because we aren’t really villagers. But as I said before, we aren’t really witches either. We don’t have magic and we don’t know the lore. But my mother tells their stories, and we do live at the edge of town in the former witch’s cottage. My mom was the friend of the Witch—Perwin, and my mother found herself without a husband (I still don’t really know what happened to my father), we moved out here.
I sighed to myself as I reviewed the facts of my life. It was like telling a well-known tale. At sixteen I was….well I wouldn’t say innocent…I had already known that life was not full of the good food and pretty clothing other girls had, but I was more hopeful. Hopeful that some girl might talk to me more than in passing. Hopeful, that I might find a friend in village. And wishful too, back then I wished for a house—maybe with a husband or a friend—where I wouldn’t have to live alone.
That was before the clouds. Before magic started cropping up everywhere. Before my mother started to tire out before the day ended.
Before I had trouble sleeping.
Hopes and wishes, they weren’t bad things, but I felt them burning in my breast, smoldering and burning down almost to nothing, before something—like a smile from a girl my age or a wistful moment holding a childling, rekindled the spark in my heart.
My life was like a banked fire.
Maybe that was what was happening to the magic. Maybe its fire had been smoldering too long so sparks of it were escaping. No one is quite certain whether magic had been disappearing, or if people had just been making less and less use of it. The Court Scholars are still arguing about it (as if their arguments change the fact that magic is back, personally I think they are arguing about the wrong thing, maybe instead of worrying about why there is so much magic all of a sudden, maybe we should worry about what we should be doing with it all).
In our village, Elda’s nose turned purple. It really wasn’t all that noticeable. Elda has beautiful ebony skin, and is the town Matron. No one, but no one crosses her. So it was rather a problem when people started to see it. No one wanted to mention it to her face, but since there is no witch in town, no one had a mirror, and the pond is too cold for most of us to admire ourselves in the pond. Besides Elda doesn’t seem to care much about clothing or looks (that’s how she got to be matron)…she tends to rap the knuckles of the more vain girls and always compliments a girl on their skills rather than their looks (Elda did compliment me once on my sharp eye for childlings when I was watching the nearest neighbor’s youngest whilst the mother was having a new baby…I tend to think this is why I got so many offers for further care). So, it wasn’t until Tam, a boy of about 5, told her frankly that he liked her nose that she realized something was up. She marched over to the pond right away, and the entire village held their breath waiting until we heard loud shrieks—it wasn’t till we reached the lake we realized that the shrieks had been laughter. I always sort of liked Elda, at that moment I wanted to be her.
Since then small magics have been cropping up. Lots of colors have changed, and some new plants grow and die in a day. Some of the childlings claimed to have seen pixies. I rather think that they are right, after all, none of the stories speak of pixies visiting adults, and the childlings don’t usually lie (they instead play dreaming games, where they always declare “I dream I’m a …..” before they start the game). But I guess too much imagination is not to be trusted, because the childlings aren’t really being taken seriously about this.
So sometimes a fish says a real word, and sometimes the roses turn into teeny tiny bushes with fairy sized buds. Sometimes your hair turns blue and sometimes (more often than not) it will eventually revert to its old color. I like to think of it as the magic leak. After all, I’ve seen magic before this,: Sunlight making the dust sparkle, newborn babies taking their first cry, the full moon at night so close you can feel its power. In my personal opinion, magic has always been there, but regular magic feels like tame magic, and tame magic allows for explanation. So the scholars study a newborn baby, proclaim that it makes a mother and a father to make it and state the fact like they have it all figured out. But no one really knows when a baby first cries. Is it while its still a secret, hiding in its mother’s belly? I saw a stillborn babe once, she was wet and wrinkly, no more than 5 or 6 months in the womb, yet she looked to me like she was real. This deep magic is the sort of which, I think we take for granted.
But as I said before, I’m not a witch, so no one has asked me what I think. And the magic keeps spilling out in small leaks. Making itself known.
I miss the moon I think, finally drowsy as the sunlight starts to shyly peak its head out from the morning….and with that thought, I fall back asleep.