Memory of Magic
by Jacob A. Boyd
This is how I imagined it.
Coppers Rest would band together and dig Daddy free before the year's first
snowfall. Standing with one foot still in the mine, Daddy would squint at the sun
and smile. A breeze would ruffle the wispy, auburn beard which would've grown
down to his chest, while a broad-winged hawk kited overhead, its body a russet
blaze against the limitless blue. Sprays of violet asters would line the path down
to camp. The mine would reward Daddy for his suffering, his endurance, his
example. Wearing a formal top hat, the mayor would shake Daddy's hand.
They'd hold the pose and wait for the reporters' sulfur bulbs to flash. The story
would chitter out across the transcontinental wire.
But there was no use pretending.
As I lay in bed reading the last book Daddy had bought me, the world was the
wind howling down from the pass, colder each day. It was the walls of the shack
creaking. It was the squeal and crumble of mine carts unloading and making up
for lost time. A lantern flame and too little oil.
It was, and couldn't un-be.
Madame Blye agreed. While she rarely made house calls, she said she had made
an exception for me. She ran a house for working girls, but she hadn't come on
business, rather something more important. School teacher Strobel told her I
hadn't returned to class since the cave-in. His best girl, thirteen years old, I
should've been someone to look up to. Where was I instead, burying my head in a
book? Yes, I had a right to my sorrow, but it wasn't sustaining. I should've faced
facts sooner. The exploratory tunnel was closed. Daddy was gone.
She wasn't telling me because she was heartless. She wanted to take me in until I
left for my Aunt Claire's back East in the Spring. It would take at least a season to
It was, truly, a pity.
From the way she said it, I knew her compliments to Daddy about my grace, about
my tender eyes, about my silken black hair, so much like her own, had been
strokes of a blade on a whetstone.
I ran away at nightfall.