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When Magic Fades
Annie had always believed in magic. She believed that the world could be changed with a thought. A simple touch could bring a flower to life, and a softly spoken word could bring about rain. She believed in hidden worlds and invisible things and music that held more than words. She had believed that anything could occur, and if you watched carefully, you could see it. Still, everyone always blinked and missed the magic that Annie was certain took place. People thought she was foolish for believing in things that were imperceptible to their senses. “Don’t you see,” Annie would say, “There is magic even in this world. Even if you can’t see it, it’s there.” The adults would just laugh and shake their heads, blaming her idealism on her youth. As she grew older, Annie’s belief in magic continued, although it became a belief in magic more abstract.
At age seventeen, however, Annie stopped believing. Somehow, the magic began to slip through her fingers, invisible. It was as if her vision had changed. Now, her eyes only perceived the incorrect wavelengths of light, her ears the wrong frequencies of sound. There had always been a certain cast to the world around her that hinted at the certainty of magic, but somehow this tint had disappeared. There were so many different types of magic, yet somehow they had all vanished. Nothing had brought on the change; her perception of the world had simply changed. It was as if Annie had lost her glasses and her vision had suddenly become blurred, so that she could no longer see the magic that surrounded her. Then again, perhaps it was the opposite; perhaps Annie had finally begun to see the world around her for what it was. Maybe the soft haze that had once covered her eyes had cleared, allowing her to see the world with all its harsh, cold lines. Either way, the world as Annie now saw it was devoid of magic.
What could make a person’s sight change so abruptly? What could have caused Annie to stop believing so fully? Could something have finally been brought to the surface that had been hidden within her all along? Did Annie always have a cynical nature, deeply rooted and hidden behind a mask of childhood innocence and idealism? Maybe she had been doomed all along. Maybe her brain had watched the moments of her life drain away, just waiting to release the flurry of despair that would destroy her. Maybe there was no reason for her desolation, maybe it was just who she was. Maybe it was a result of other traits that she slowly developed throughout her life. Could it have been the result of an ultimate inability to reach the things she struggled for? Could it have branched from an inability to love? Could it have come from an inability to trust? Where did these traits originate in the first place? Annie did not know.
It was with her growing disbelief that Annie’s world began to fall apart, morphing into something unrecognizable. The ground cracked beneath her feet, as reality broke free from the form she had used to define it. Annie’s eyes became broken mirrors, showing her warped reflections of the world. What she had seen was not there, and what she saw now could not be. There was still something missing, but she could not see what was hidden. She could not see the things that exceeded her vision, the things that lay on a spectrum invisible to her eyes. These things were only visible to a foreign sense, a second pair of eyes. That sense was something that she had lost with age.
When Annie lost her belief in magic, she soon lost her belief in almost everything else.
She stopped believing in things she could touch. She stopped believing in things she could see. She stopped believing in things she could hear, smell, taste. She stopped believing in the scent of roses, the feel of a kiss, the ground beneath her feet. She stopped believing in rain, in lightning, in air. She stopped believing in time and motion, in reality and illusion, in life and death. What was the difference anyway? How could she prove the existence of anything? All she knew for certain was that life was insubstantial, nothing more than dust. She kept hope locked within her chest to rot away like a decaying flower, petals dropping in a moldy pattern. She could no longer even believe in her own existence. After all, if she could not prove the existence of anything else, how could she prove her own?
It was then that Annie stopped speaking. Words still formed in her head but they refused to form on her lips. Her tongue was heavy. Her lack of a voice was fitting with her lack of identity. Those who do not exist cannot speak. She had no way to know if her words were her own or if they were controlled by someone else within her head. She could not know if her words were really leaving her lips or if they were inaudible to the people surrounding her. Maybe there were no people surrounding her to hear, and maybe the words she spoke only fell on empty space. Her words were worthless, a waste of breath. They fell on ears that might as well have been deaf. So she stopped speaking.
Still, Annie could not stop thinking. Her thoughts defined her. They were the only thing she had left, and although she did not want to think, she had to. Just like her words, Annie had no way to know if her thoughts were her own, but it was impossible to shut off her brain. She wanted to find the logic, the last remaining ounce of meaning, in a world without order. She wanted to understand the universe and did not realize that its lines and its structure were outside of her comprehension. Maybe she should not have thought about it at all. Although thoughts defined her, they also destroyed her. Still, what else could she do but think?
Annie had always thought that she was made up of the same matter as the stars, as the trees, as all of the things that surrounded her. Nonetheless, the more she thought, the more she realized that she could not truly be made up of the same material if nothing existed in the first place. If there were no stars to shine and no trees to grow, she and they could not share matter. Could they possibly share illusionary matter? Maybe they were all ghosts, she considered, but ghosts are only figments, illusions. Illusions are part of the mind, and if she did not exist to perceive them, then, by extension, illusion did not exist either.
As Annie thought, she shuddered; yet she did not shudder because she could not if she did not exist. She felt a rising feeling of panic as she finally realized the inevitable. She did not exist. Nothing existed. She was not a part of a whole because there was no whole to be a part of. The truth flooded her like a light, and acceptance calmed her. As she sat alone on the floor of her room, she came to her decision.
She thought, “If the world does not exist then neither do I. I am intangible. If I do not exist, then it does not matter if I speak. My words make no sound. If I do not exist, it does not matter if I die. My death makes no waves.” So she swallowed the pills and watched the nonexistent world blur before her eyes, freeing her of the illusion that could not exist. The sky turned black with shadows, but there were no longer any stars to be concealed from her vision. In that moment of darkness, maybe her thoughts reached a deathly speed; maybe she finally saw a spark of insight. It was too late to know. As her heart slowed to a stop, Annie saw nothing but the night.