the invisible magician

"Is this your card?"

Jason  whipped out a card from deep within his sleeve and grinned at the pigtailed girl in front of him. Her nose dribbled onto her swollen upper lip, but at least she was smiling now and not crying.

"No, silly." She giggled, then hiccuped.

He played embarrassed, kicking his heels on the dusty fairgrounds. "Aw shucks..." he rubbed back of his neck. "I told you I wasn't very good."

She wrinkled up her nose and said, "Maybe you should consider taking lessons."

He nodded. "Maybe I should...but..."

A card "magically" appeared in his hand. "Would this be your card?"

Her mouth dropped open. "H-h-how--"

He bent down to knee level and looked her in the eyes, smiling. "Keep it," he said, handing her the card, "it's a gift from the Invisible Magician." He gave her sticky hand a squeeze. "And you might want to look into closing that mouth of yours. A swallow might decide to make a nest, or something."

For about five seconds, she didn't move or breathe or speak--just stared at the card like it was a gift from the heavens--then clutched the card tight in her hand and bolted off, hollering for her mother. Jason chuckled to himself as he stood. "Wipe your nose!" he hollered after her. "And don't run into any more tent poles, you hear?" He shook his head. It never ceased to amaze him how his audience changed day to day. Whether it was an audience of one or a boisterous crowd...each demonstration he made was unique. "The magic isn't in the magician," his uncle had always said, "the magic is in the audience."

However, here at Timler Fairgrounds, where the paint was faded and chipped, where dust and decay breeded together, where the only sound was the absence of coins against metal... a pint-sized audience of one was hardly enough magic to satisfy Jason. He always had bigger plans--larger mountains to climb.

He packed up his show--decks of cards, a silk scarf or two, and a few secret tricks that he kept up his sleeve (figuratively) for difficult crowds--and headed towards the lonely exit gate. It didn't matter if the owners didn't know he was leaving; they hadn't even known he was there! That was his specialty as the Invisible Magician. No one ever knew he was there.

He was nearly at the gate when an old woman's voice stopped him.

"Hail, Cardmaster."

He stopped in his tracks.

Cardmaster. No one had called him that in years. It was always Magician this, Magician that. Never Cardmaster.

He turned around.

There, a few feet before the gate, sat an old woman dressed in red and black rags. Her fingers were crooked and gnarled, but as she knitted away like any other old woman, Jason saw what others didn't. Her fingers moved too quickly, her calluses caught on the wool. A fellow cardmaster.

"Hail, old mother," he said, adjusting his knapsack on his shoulder. "How goes the world?"

"It goes, it goes; ever does it go." Deep within her wrinkly face were set two sparkly black eyes, and he smiled. This woman--though old she might look--had some spunk in her yet.

"Why did you stop me, old mother?" He gestured to her knitting. "Care to learn me a stitch or two?"

She threw back her head and laughed feebly. "Oh, the lad is the jesting type. Nay, you don't strike me as a man of the string--secrets and tricks are what you deal in, methinks."

"You're not far wrong, old mother, not far indeed."

"Then come closer," she said, beckoning, "and I'll teach ye a trick, instead of a stitch."

Jason hesitated. She didn't seem a thief, though he'd seen many a traveller be fooled by similar acts. Still...the way her hands moved. It was enough to trust, he decided.

He strode to her side, keeping a strong hand on his moneybag, just to be safe. "Teach away, mother. I'm all ears."

She didn't look up from her knitting. "Can you smell it?" she asked.

"Excuse me?"

"Can you smell it?"

"Smell what?"

The knitting dropped, and she met his gaze with eyes filled with dark glee. "Something secret. A big secret. A dangerous secret."

Coming over here was a bad idea... "Are you telling me something, mother?"

"No no no...not you. Not yet. But soon." She moved as if to take up the knitting again, but instead, she pulled out a mass of large red cards from underneath. "Care to draw a hand, lad?"

"Of cards? For what?"

"For a good trick." Her eyes twinkled.

Jason shook his head, laughing. "I'm sorry, old mother, but I'm a cardmaster. I know all the tricks there are." He turned to leave the crazy woman to her knitting.

"But you believe in magic."

He stopped in his tracks once more.

"Magic isn't in the magician," she said quietly, "it's in the audience."

Jason stared at the woman. "Where did you hear that?"

She waved his words and questions away. "None of that matters. The real questions stands: will you leave me without an audience, or will you make some magic for me?"

{just a drabble the above pictures inspired. love it when short stories actually stay short!}


  1. Oh I like this very much. I don't usually read others writing, but this I loved. Marvelous. <3

  2. Oo. I love this! The writing itself and the story.


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