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The Magic Game
I was around the age of ten when I was first introduced to The Magic Game. I will claim no credit for its creation, only for the parts of the story which I helped to perpetuate, the life that I lent to it. I do not know the true origins of The Magic Game, nor would I ever wish to, for the Magic of the Game came not from its creation but from its course, and from the ways it managed to change all of us forever.
It began on a day not unlike any other. My friend Kameron sat on the bus seat next to me, lost in one of his silent reveries, while my other friend Jack and I were badgering each other and acting quite like the elementary-school-aged children that we were. What we said or I did I do not remember, as I can no longer recall what we did with ourselves before The Magic Game.
It was only when I turned to Kameron and politely asked what was on his mind (Do not be fooled, I was not a polite child in the slightest, but Kameron was the sort of friend that I spoke politely to, as I trusted him deeply,) that he uttered the three words that would make the rest of my life a lot more interesting: “I am Magic.”
I blinked and gawked at him with eyes of amazement, “You’re what!?”
“Magic. I can do things that most people cannot do.” His eyes were fearful as he spoke, barely above a whisper, as if he was afraid that I would not believe him, that I would accuse him of lying, or worse: that I would tell someone. But none of these possible actions passed through my mind in that moment as my ten-year-old brain raced, thrumming with the possibilities that had just been laid before me.
It was at this point that Jack (He was a bit younger than us and hated the idea that we were doing something without him,) popped his head over the seat and said in the most accusatory tone he could muster, “What are you two doing?” Kameron and I probably had looks on our faces that made it seem as if we had just been caught with our hands in the cookie jar.
I waited, wondering if Jack would be allowed to know this secret. After a minute, Kameron repeated his earlier words:
“I am Magic.”
Jack’s reaction to the news was very similar to mine as he blinked and shouted, ‘Really!?”
“Yes, really. I came from the Magic Realm to learn and grow up here.”
An idea burned at the back of my mind, waiting to be spoken. Unable to contain it any longer, I unknowingly began a long journey. “I’m Magic, too.”
I saw Jack’s eyes light up as he quickly copied my confession. Kameron smiled warmly, “I thought so. That’s why I trusted you guys with this.”
Now that we had agreed to play, it was time to learn how. Kameron spent the rest of the short bus ride telling us his story. He shared a body with someone he called Crystal (I would later come to know a lot about her,) and they were agents, sent from the Magic Realm to live and learn here. Between the two of them they held many powers: primarily psychic abilities, though they were constantly discovering more. They ran missions in the Magic Realm, and were sometimes called away to assist in the effort to defeat the mysterious evil forces that plagued the Magic Realm.
And so it began.
In time, the unspoken rules of the Game became evident:
1.Tell no one (Especially not adults) about the Game.
2. Never refer to the Game as a game; for all intents and purposes, the Game is real, and you must not break character at any point, for any reason.
3. Do not copy another player’s story. You may take ideas from another player, but you may never give yourself a power that another has claimed. (For example, we all gained dragon forms, but each had a different specialty: Kameron was ice, Jack was stone, and I was fire.)
4. You must never use your powers against another player, or even threaten to. Disputes must be settled through normal speech.
5. You are always in the Game. This means that all aspects of the Game are accessible by all players at all times.
6. No one player may dominate the Game. If one player does such, other players have a right to step in and restore order in whatever way they can, so long as it does not break any other rule.
We played in a variety of ways: we were often called away from our bodies on missions that took us to the Magic Realm and beyond. When this happened, another spirit would be sent to occupy our bodies until we could return. Each of us had many different Replacements (as we called them) with their own names and personalities. I found that, when one Replacement was better suited to handle a situation that I felt I could not deal with as myself, I would suddenly leave on a mission and send another spirit, so that I could do things I normally would not. It became almost an escape; an excuse.
Upon return from the missions, we would speak of our accomplishments. I might have received a brand new ability, Jack might have found out some important information about where the Evil was gathering, and Kameron may have heard a rumor of a super-weapon that could defeat them. With each new mission, the story grew.
On one of my missions I gained a world. Discovering a portal branching off from the Magic Realm, I passed through and found myself in a glorious and beautiful kingdom I called Anuin. This element of the Game has stuck with me ever since; years later, I continue to write stories of the world in my head.
But it was not all mere story-telling. On days when the real world bored us, we would gather at Jack’s house. His little siblings would watch us excitedly while we stormed the backyard and tore through the trees, slaying Knights of Evil at every turn. It was at this point, when the Game almost seemed like a second reality, that we gained a new player.
A new girl in my class, Christy, quickly became one of the first real female friends I had ever had. This was an interesting experience after years of being friends with Kameron and Jack. She decided that all of the male influence I had grown up with meant that I had “no idea how to be a girl”, and took it upon herself to “teach me”. I learned (and have since forgotten,) TV shows I was supposed to watch, clothes I was supposed to wear, how to act around boys, which ones were worth “going after”, and a whole host of information that I have since deemed almost completely useless. Nonetheless, she was my “BFF”, so I listened and learned.
She never could change my closeness to Kameron and Jack (she thought having male friends was rather strange,) or my involvement with The Magic Game. After a meeting, it was decided that Christy should know the truth about us. To my surprise, she joined, although she brought with her an element to the story that was very foreign to me: romance.
Her missions involved the meeting of handsome princes and tall, hunky agents, and because I was the only other female player, I was subject to hear the stories of her romantic escapades. She always asked if I had met any guys on my missions.
I never knew how to properly respond. Had I met guys? Sure, but not the way she was describing…I wouldn’t dream about ever kissing them. They still had cooties.
I wanted to tell her of the sort of missions I ran that I never shared: the ones that involved the rescue of some beautiful, faraway princess who would come to understand me in ways that no one else would; the ones where I ruled my kingdom with a queen at my side. But these I kept to myself. It would be weird if I had been marrying girls instead of chasing after princes. Wouldn’t it?
Still, I wanted her to know that I was learning. So I invented a series of tales that were, as I saw it, rather vapid and shallow: all involving boys. Christy seemed thrilled by my active imagination. I wrote my real missions in secret.
In time, Christy left us and the Game in favor of the real world. In time, I got over that. But the Game was never quite the same, and a conversation I had with Kameron ensured that it was time for it to end.
We sat in his basement, playing videogames, as we had done many times before. We talked as we played of things going on in school, home, the Magic Realm. During a pause in the videogame, Kameron set down his controller and appeared deep in thought. I was curious, but I didn’t push it.
After some time: “I need to tell you something, but…I’m really worried you’ll freak out.”
I took a long blink and felt myself grow even more curious. Me, freak out at Kameron? Were such things possible? “Kameron, you know you can trust me…you did before.”
He looked at me for a long time, half of his face brightly lit up by the screen that was still on. “This isn’t like that. It’s going to sound really weird.”
He sighed, “You know Crystal, right?”
Of course I knew Crystal, she was his chief Replacement. “Yeah…”
“I’m not Kameron. I don’t feel like him. He’s a guy. I feel like a girl; I feel like Crystal.” He looked at me pleadingly, begging me to understand. I felt confused, wondering we he seemed so worried, so desperate.
“So…you’re really a girl?”
He nodded, “Yes, I really feel like I am…Is that weird?”
I thought about it for a minute. “Honestly? No. I’ve known you for so long that it always seemed…normal that you were more girly than me.”
He laughed, clearly glad to have a huge weight of his chest. I began to wonder what that felt like…
“I have a secret, too…”
He looked concerned, “What’s up?”
I bit down on my lip and stared at the floor, wondering how to explain this. “Do you remember when Christy and I would meet with guys in the Magic Realm?”
“I never…wanted to marry the princes. I always wanted to marry the princess, instead.”
I quickly remembered the rules and corrected myself, “I mean…I lied about all of the guys I met, I was just trying to fit in. I didn’t want you guys to think I was weird because the truth is, I don’t like guys. I mean, not in the same way that I like girls,” I finished nervously.
He still looked confused, “So, you’d rather marry a princess. Why is that bad?”
“None of the other girls do.”
“So? It’s what you want, right?”
He leaned back and stared at the ceiling in thought, “You should be able to marry whoever you want…”
“And you should be able to be whoever you want.”
He smiled gratefully before frowning, “Why are we so weird?”
“I just wonder why I don’t know anyone else who ever thinks they’re a girl when they’re not, or likes girls when they’re a girl…”
“There are people like that. I mean, gay people don’t care if they like someone with the same parts as them.” Gay. I remember the word frightened me at the time.
“Yeah…but do you know any?”
I shook my head.
“And what about my problem?”
I had no answer for him, and he looked at me.
“I’m glad I can trust you. And I’m glad that you’re kind of like me,” I smiled until he continued, “I just wish more of the world was like that.”
My face fell, “Yeah…”
That was the last time we kept up the façade of the Game. We were older now; we no longer needed it to express ourselves. Kameron and I found that the world was more accepting than we had originally thought. Along with Jack (who was perfectly fine with both of our oddities,) we enjoyed a year or so of friendship after that, before being torn apart.
Jack went first. I haven’t spoken to him since the day I watched his family drive off in a moving van, tears in my eyes.
Kameron was close behind, and I was especially sorry to see him go. The two of us have managed to occasionally re-connect.
I remind behind. Christy’s still around, but we no longer speak, which is probably for the best. The real world always did suit her more than it did the rest of us.
I still think about the Game some nights, and the effect it had on Kameron and I. Freed from the constraints of reality, we were ourselves…just not in a world that anyone else could see. Maybe that was the chance we needed; the little extra push that readied us for the world everyone else lived in. I suppose that confidence, that small sense of pride given to us is The Magic Game, still running its course after all these years.