Until We Find Better Magic
by H.G. Parry
Once upon a time there was a young magician, and he fell in love with a dancer.
He was a good magician by affiliation, having neither the desire nor the ambition
to be properly dark, but he was not an entirely good magician, and he often
suspected himself of vanity and selfishness and other traits not strictly light.
Sometimes he was ashamed of this, and would try to do something good with his
magic, like cure a sick child. Once in a while he succeeded, which pleased his
vanity and made him feel selfish. Most of the time he didn't worry about it. He had
a job in a circus, making the fireworks, and it was good work for a magician just
The dancer was a year older than him, and she was the best dancer in the world.
She was tall and graceful, with thick dark hair that tumbled to her waist and eyes
the color of the filling in apple pie. She had lived in the circus with her uncle the
acrobat since she was a little girl, and it was because of her that the magician had
joined. He would watch her practice in the evenings, until it got too dark to see,
and pretend she danced for him. It wasn't a very fulfilling fantasy.
"Why don't you ever look at me when you dance?" the magician asked the dancer
one day. It was Midsummer. He was eighteen, made of limbs and dark hair and
potential, and she was beautiful. "You must know I watch you every night."
"I didn't know that was what you were watching for," she said.
"It was," he said, though he didn't know it until that moment. Maybe it wasn't
even true. "It is."
"Well," she said. "Maybe one night I will. Just to oblige you." And she kissed him
and walked away.
The magician was so happy at that evening's performance that he conjured the
best and grandest fireworks ever made, which everyone agreed were rubbish. A
frenzy of first love is never a reliable source of artistic inspiration.
She didn't look at him that night, anyway. She didn't come out to practice,
because her uncle the acrobat had been taken ill after the performance and had to
be nursed. The next morning he was better, but she was ill, and the morning after
that she was dead.