There are a lot of different ways to learn about magic. As many as there are people to have them. Mostly, they fall under three themes.
Something horrible can happen to you, you can survive something or lose someone, and that can knock you into magic’s path. If you learn of magic through that, your path will walk you towards the aggressive arts, magics that show you how to fight, maybe defend, very rarely to heal.
Or, maybe magic found you. One day you see the fair folk at the bottom of your garden, you dance with them, eat their food, and you never, not ever, forget them. Your days are just the time you have to spend to find them again. Your nights are when you dream of them. Perhaps you’re browsing the shelves of your local bookshop, and in between the celebrity biographies and the recipe books you find it, a tome that feels electric and ancient, and there’s no price on it, but you take it home anyway, shoved inside your coat next to your heart. Sometimes magic needs you more than you need it, so it goes looking, it goes hunting.
And then there’s the final collection, the type that is the oddest and rarest of them all. The inheritors. Now narrative structure would, at this point, demand that I admit to being a member of this group. But I can I can be stubborn, so I’m not going to. Sometimes it’s an old coat put around your shoulders to keep out the cold; you have to grow into it, stitch it up from time to time. Sometimes it’s a craft you pick up from your spot by the fire, learning it the same way other people learn to knit or how to argue. For others magic is as much a part of being that family as warmth at holidays, to be a part of the family means knowing it, the way knowing a family recipe solidifies who’s in and who’s on the edges. There’s annotations in the margins and generations disagree on one ingredient over another, but the recipe follows you.
What I’m trying to say is that magic can be found any number of ways. It’s both the normal and the unexpected. The table scarred with scratches from before you were born, sitting and always there, or it’s the box found an attic in a new house.
And sometimes it tries to kill you, which is how I came to be here today.
The day started somewhere between ordinary and extraordinary, as most do.
I woke to my alarm. Ordinary
The milk in the fridge was the colour of moonlight. Extraordinary.
The cat from next door followed me down the street to the bus stop; he let me stroke the black velvet of his fur before he turned away. Something closer to ordinary than not.
As I got on the bus, he called out to me, “Good luck and keep an eye out for the teeth,” and was gone when I turned back to look for him. Definitely extraordinary.
The bus ride was short, but I spent it shaking, my eyes watching and searching, I jumped off, shoulders up and pose defensive. When it started to rain my eyes went skyward. The summer sun was gone.
In its place were stampeding clouds of black and purple, bruise-like they crossed the sky. And in their wake, other things followed.
And yes, they had lots of teeth.
Magic found a lot of people that day. Some it bashed into, hurling fireballs and drooling venom. Other’s hid under bridges and met denizens who were not best pleased about the company. At least one person overheard a group of warlocks, was seen, pretended to know what they were talking about and got dragged off into numerous rituals.
I already had it, so I spent most of my day stood on a taxi hurling magic back and forth against winged beasties. There was one dragon that would just not go away, and of course, fire isn’t much use against dragons so I had to come up with something a bit special for that. That was a pain; ice shards don’t evaporate, so with all the people running around, I was sure I was going to skewer someone.
But that wasn’t what you wanted to know, was it?
What was that again?
Kirsty’s dissertation was her latest attempt at writing the novel that has been occupying her mind for the last seven years. She’s been writing short stories lately, of which ‘the Day Magic Happened’ is one, but will soon be back to longer length work. She can be found on Twitter at @KWritesALot.