Mona Houghton



The Magic Trick

The Fiction Week Literary Review, Fall 2013

Petie's kite tied itself up in Mr. Lynch's Mulberry tree. He came through the front door crying, expecting me to magically make the damn thing float back to mother earth. I told the kid my working miracle days are over. Told him those powers ascended to heaven prior to my corporal being which will soon be making that very same journey. Ellie popped her head in from the kitchen, telling us both that I am a fool—that that kinda talk taunts fate. I told Ellie and Petie that fate has nothin' to do with the day my face turns blue and the life explodes outta me like a balloon hit by the lit end of a cigarette.

I said it twice so as to get Ellie's shorts in an even tighter twist as I love it when that woman gets all bent. I like it when her cheeks flair red. I can give her a certain 'I Want You' look, and wham, the color starts right there in the sweet spot where her neck meets her chest, and the pink works itself up, getting brighter by the second. Used to happen all the time, no matter where we were, and she'd always make her way to my side and whisper some sweet thing in my ear, "You crazy goat," and then her cheeks'd go the color of the brightest pomegranate on the tree, and me, I'd be swimming in it, her breath hot against my skin. Today, I still get the rush from her and no matter she wouldn't say, she still gets the rush from me. And I can tell because she plays me, like when she's getting ready to for bed and she knows I have an eye on her, she'll slip her day dress off in a catching a way as possible, or she'll even ease her breasts out of her slip, letting her fingers linger there. She's like a crisp apple on a autumn afternoon.

Petie thinks so too and he's only eight, and he even tries to bring the mean out of her every once in a while but doesn't succeed. He did make her explode once, when he bad mouthed his mother, said something he must have heard his fuckin' father say, said through sad tears, I don't miss that slut. And Ellie grabbed him by the ear and gave it to him. It'll be years before that boy'll be saying anything disparaging about his mother or any other woman for that fact.

Anyway, I'll cover all the woman particulars in a few years, when I have a sit down with Petie; although I have been thinking that Petie might need to have that sit down with his Uncle Joseph as it might not be girls that Petie hankers for. Can't tell at this age, I know, but he does like putting make-up on and wearing Ellie's pearl necklace. Ellie says, "You shouldn't pigeon hole the boy." I say back to her, "What do you think?" She suggests to me to think back to all the games we played and what I would say afterwards, in the afternoon afterglow: I am not a man or a woman or a horse or a mouse. I am, simply, not, I would say. Ellie would laugh, say "I love you." And then Petie's mom came out of that not and our world glowed even brighter for a bunch of years. New math and diagramming sentences, puppy love and training bras, and then one day it crashed and we'd find her in the bathroom, cutting on herself or eating four boxes of cookies and I'd try to convince myself to not let this alarm me anymore than the green hair. And I know none of this can be a predictor, that even accumulated, what happened leaps over any reason, that no one action reveals the future, but a future did come and that future turned our world, mine and Ellie's together, moonless, a landscape of vomit and piss and shit.

But Petie is here, thanks to some mighty luck. He saves us every day and by the time some octopus gets a hold of him Ellie and I will be snuggled up on the other side of a star somewhere in this galaxy or another and our hearts will be safe from the breaking, I am sure of this. And so today, when Petie cried hard about the loss of the kite—I did get up and let him take my hand and drag me out the front door. And I saw the kite, red and yellow, up there in Mr. Lynche's branches and I wanted to work some magic for the kid. I really wanted to, I wanted him to taste that victory. I wanted Ellie to hear our shouts.

I reached down and pulled him to me and buried my nose against his neck and pulled all of his little boy smells deep into myself. And wouldn't you know it, a second later we both looked up just when a little breeze rustled by and as chance would have it, the kite broke free.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Return to Top