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A Day Away From the Bakery
My feet tapped against the stone pavement in a slow unhurried rhythm. The sky was a brilliant blue, there was not a single angry cloud for miles, and I was content to stroll around the city doing pleasant things like eating sugar buns. It was unusual for me to
have a day off from the bakery, so I intended to enjoy it.
Up ahead was the city pond, a shimmering piece of glass reflecting the clear sky. The pavement surrounding it was where most of the city’s entertainment took place. Although there was a dearth of quality entertainment, occasionally there were some
good shows. On an ordinary day, there would be kiosks selling random junk, musicians trying to earn a few coins, and magicians displaying their knack for fooling people with tricks of the hand.
The latter fascinated me the most. My eyes roved over the bobbing heads of the people in search of a top hat, wand, or black cloak. I quickly spotted one, a tall man with sparks shooting from his hands and a small crowd surrounding him. I dashed to where he was performing and watched with wide eyes.
He reached into a small black briefcase lying on the ground, and pulled out a short
sleek rod. Confused, I wondered what he planned to attempt. He began twirling the rod in a circular motion. He twirled it faster and faster until the wind emanating from it caused the black cloak draped around his shoulders to flutter spastically.Eventually, the twirling slowed, and I noticed that the rod looked much flimsier than before. When he stopped its
spinning, what used to be a stiff rod now hung quite limp in his hands, draped over each side of them like a rag doll. Puzzled, I pushed myself through the mass of people, hoping for a closer look. Gasps were beginning to sound throughout the crowd, but the true
identity of the black object was still shrouded from my view. Finally, after much pushing and shoving, I saw what had happened. What laid before me was not a rod at all, but rather a hissing snake with an evil glint in its green eyes. I would have thought it was fake, a hoax, but the eyes convinced me otherwise. After I saw them, nothing could have
persuaded me that the snake was fake. They glinted with green mischievousness as the snake slithered up the magician’s arm. I had never seen a trick like this before, and judging by the looks on the crowd’s faces, I assumed they had never seen anything like it either.
The trick’s ingenuity fascinated me. How did he do it? It was surely a real, stiff rod
before, and now it was a snake full of life! I decided I had to know what kind of trickery it was. I knew magicians never told anyone their secrets, but maybe I could offer him something he couldn’t refuse. A year’s supply of bread, perhaps?
His show ended abruptly after the snake display. Before I had time to blink, he was strutting away from the pond, toward the shops and houses, leaving behind his briefcase.
Impetuously, I glanced at him, grabbed his briefcase, and raced after him. Now I had a bargaining chip for the secret of the snake. I had his suitcase, and if he wanted it back, he could give me the secret. I chased after him, but he was moving quickly, his black cloak fluttering behind him.
“Sir!” I called after him. He didn’t even glance back.
Frustrated, I continued to chase him, shouting for him every now and then, to no avail. Even though he was walking and I was running, I could never catch up with him; I barely even gained any ground.
He rounded a corner and headed straight for a tall house. I didn’t give it much thought as I still concentrated on catching him. Without pausing, he strode up a couple of stairs and waltzed straight into the house, shutting the door behind him.
Bounding up the same stairs, I pounded on the door. No one answered.
“SIR, YOU LEFT YOUR BRIEFCASE!” I screamed at his door. Still, no one answered.
I knew it was extremely rude, and technically illegal, to walk into another person’s house without knocking, but I was so doggedly intent on catching him and so frustrated that he ignored my shouting, that I was not going to allow manners to interfere with my implacable determination to catch him. And I was sure he wouldn’t mind my intrusion since I was bringing his briefcase to him.
Without any further thought, I gripped the door handle and swung it open. I wasn’t sure what I expected to find in a street magician’s house, but it surely wasn’t this. The door opened into a long hallway, each side lined with doors, with nothing at the end of the hall except a mirror hanging on the wall.
Confused and not sure where to go, I nearly turned back, but then I saw the end of his dark cloak disappearing through a door far down the hall. I sprinted after it and arrived just after the door closed, shutting me off from the cloak and its master.
Completely expecting to find the magician on the other side of the door, I turned the handle and opened it. With a wide smile on my face, I stepped into the room. My smile died immediately. The room before me was brightly lit, but poorly furnished and decorated. The walls and ceiling were white, the carpet was white, the lone piece of
furniture, a lamp, was white as well. The most disappointing thing about the room, though, was that it held no magician.
I glanced around the room for another door he could have gone through, but I found none. Puzzled, I thought that maybe I had seen his cloak go through a different door, and had accidentally chosen this one.
Still a bit confused, I stepped back out into the hallway to try the door to the left of the one I had entered. Seeing it, I immediately knew it was the right one, and I had made a mistake before. The door was cracked, showing a fraction of darkness beyond it. I pushed the door open, finding the room utterly black. Reaching out, I slid my hand along
the wall searching for a light switch. My hand felt something, flicked it up, but the room was not illuminated. Instead, little twinkling lights appeared on the ceiling, looking exactly like stars. Fascinated, I stepped further into the room and felt a cool breeze drift across my skin, leaving it tingling.
Strange, I thought. Maybe a window was open.
A little frightened, I dropped the suitcase and decided to leave at once. When I turned around, though, there was no door. No, there wasn’t even a wall. The walls had disappeared, leaving me outside in a dark field of long swaying reeds. Close by was a
brook, and above were the stars, only now I knew they were quite real.
Terror struck. Everything related to reality had just been proved wrong in my mind. Was the world completely bereft of rules? Were there no real laws of science and nature?
Wide-eyed and shivering, my head whipped back and forth, searching for a way out of this cursed field. But all I saw were endless swaying grasses and a mist building up in the air, making me feel claustrophobic. The din of the whispering wind and the cackling stream was pounding on my ears.
“No, no, no, this is not happening,” I whispered to myself. “You’re dreaming.”
I began to wring my hands together. Then sinking down to huddle on the ground, I brought them up to pull at my hair, hoping and praying that somehow I would get out of this abominable field.
“I should never have come!” I told myself. Suddenly full of new energy, I jumped
up and screamed, “I‘M SORRY, OKAY?! I‘M SORRY FOR INVADING YOUR
HOUSE! I WON’T COME BACK, JUST LET ME OUT OF HERE!”
Knowing that I would never escape this field, the pallor of death soon to be on my face, I dropped down on the ground again. Hot tears flooded down my cheeks, and just as despair began to overtake me, the lights came back on.
Shocked, I glanced up and saw not a starry sky, but a ceiling. A beautiful, ivory ceiling.
“I really must apologize, Sweetheart. I tell you, I have the most dreadful hearing. It wasn’t until you started screaming that I even knew someone was in my house.”
I shot up off the floor and stared straight into the dark eyes of the magician, an apologetic smile on his face.
When I didn’t say anything, his eyebrows crinkled together and he said, “I really
Up close and without his dark cloak around his shoulders, he didn’t look as mysterious and magical as I had thought. He looked like a man in his mid-forties, with an honest face that suggested he was telling the complete truth, despite how it seemed.
Realizing that he was waiting for a response, I said, “But how . . . The stars . . . I was inside, and then . . .” my voice faded into a gasp, as everything I had just experienced began flooding into my brain.
He was leaning against a bookshelf, in fact, I realized we were in a library. He
stepped away from the books and walked over to where I was standing.
“Listen,” he said. “I know you don’t understand everything that’s going on, but take my advice: forget it.” He smiled a small smile. “It’s for the best.”
I stared at him, not knowing what to do or think. I decided I would acquiesce. I
would forget everything that had just happened and go along with my normal life.
My thoughts must have shown on my face, because his expression turned from worry to relief.
“How about this,” he grinned, “You want to know how to do the snake trick, correct?” he asked me, staring straight at my face.
I nodded, wondering if he would actually tell me.
“Alright then, if that’s what you want, I’ll tell you. But you must look here into my
eyes, or you won’t believe me.”
Puzzled, but not about to miss out on my opportunity, I stared straight into his dark eyes.
He opened them wide, and in them, I saw the mischievous eyes of the snake. Without speaking, they said one word: “Magic.”