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Mystery

The prophecy had surrounded everyone in a fog, like a monster lurking in the mist. It had yet to be discovered who was prophesied to save their world. For centuries, magical beings created their own rules and existed in secrecy. But not anymore.


Only a few years before, the lives of magical beings became common knowledge. The taste of magic spread like wildfire, and human society wanted to know more. Individuals with magic were known, and liable to human courts or their own, depending on the crime at hand. The differences in the human’s understanding of magic was the only reason the magical community could deal with some crimes on their own accord, with some imposed rules.


For as long as anyone could remember, magical beings feared revealing their existence to the world. No one truly knew if the prophecy was a result of that fear or the prediction that fuelled it. But either way, people begged for it to come to fruition. They feared miscommunications having bigger, unintended consequences. War, starvation, ruling powers. Magical beings knew they had the upper hand, but they didn’t know what would happen if their differences created further segregation and possible discrimination. Peace between humans and magical beings had existed for years before this, with the two blending seamlessly in the outside world.


Their name was lost with time, but one person was responsible for the magical community being exposed to the world. They had chosen their fate in the name of love and sacrifice, without thinking of all the others their act would affect. Their small showing of vulnerability fuelled an alarming rate of uncovering in the age of the internet and social media. Conspiracy theories were followed as actual proof from information agencies. Names were released. Anyone could be considered suspicious, from movie stars to politicians to neighbours, leading to an investigation of their entire existence. It was like the Salem Witch Trials all over again, except there was no burning or hanging involved.


Humans claimed their interest was only for information. Unlike those infamous and feared trials, suspicions were replaced with theories and facts; no one was safe from their prying eyes. Magical beings of significant power were recognized throughout history, breaking the last whispers of disbelief among humans. Schools of magic were publicly founded across the world. The thought was, if peaceful coexistence was to continue, magic should be taught, just like geography and history.


For Naysa, the collision of worlds was both unexpected and unsurprising. She was raised as an everyday human, but an investigation into family ancestry exposed non-human powers in her lineage a couple years before the rest of the world knew. Her father’s blood was tainted by dormant magic, the apparent reasoning for his parents abandoning him as a child. Having human children in magical families was likely to breed contempt, so they were often cast out. The assumption was that non-magical parents could not have magical children of their own one day, breeding both questions and amazement. Obviously, that was incorrect.


As a child, Naysa had always felt different from her peers. With that family discovery, she knew why. But her parents wanted her to be raised normally, so her life was minimally changed: she remained at the same school, despite the fact she could have transferred to a private school for magic. Until the collision, that is. Everyone was tested, and those with the ability for magic were looked at differently, with school-aged children being forced to transfer. Her parents never loved her any less, but that wasn’t why Naysa felt like a puzzle piece that didn’t belong. Her newfound abilities created a missing link between her and her parents. Her peers thought she was too human. There seemed to be no middle ground between not knowing, and knowing too much.


Her parents claimed that her difference made her remarkable. To them, Naysa did the unfathomable regularly. But who really wanted to be the one in the middle, where she was never really chosen? With the change in schools, altered curriculum, and newfound social standing, Naysa walked through life in a hazy cloud of disappointment. Her more informed classmates never wanted Naysa in their group projects, with most of them seeing her as a weak link. There were a few students, namely Mathias and Saki, who always offered her warm smiles from across the classroom, but she couldn’t tell if it was in friendship or sympathy. So instead, she chose to walk alone amid the chaos and avoid the heartbreak of rejection.


The only reprieve from her numb life in the middle was her teachers, who were always happy with her continued progress as she strived to catch up with her peers. While they were all kind to her, Ms. Olsen was one of her favourites. She taught history in a way beyond memorizing dates, using magic to create personalized interactive activities. Students in Ms. Olsen’s class felt as if they learned both their curriculum as well as more about their own personal history; but it was her answers to Naysa’s constant questioning that allowed for a personal connection to form. 


But as personal as their lessons were, the prophecy always loomed over their heads. More than ever, the magical community needed their saviour. Fear ruled the community and they worried about their every action. The prophecy, written hundreds of years before, claimed that when secrets are revealed, a new kind of hero will rise to combine the shadows with the light. With their new status, the magical community hoped this new hero would appear soon to save them from the ominous shadows.


In a world full of fear, a new hero was a powerful source of hope. People clung to the prophecy, searching for answers beyond the lines about who this hero would be, and where they could look for more hope. But as some obsessed over a piece of scrawled text shorter than some poems, teachers continued with their students, altering lessons on secrecy to those on safety. Students had always been warned not to harm humans, but those warnings had never been more enforced. One incident could change the fate of their entire group, and they didn’t want to start something that would have to be finished.


Naysa was one of the only students who understood the fear on both sides. If her family could barely fathom her minuscule, untrained powers, what about those in shock, who didn’t realize what could exist at all? There were witches far more powerful than her, and she was still learning about the other kinds of beings that could destroy cities at will.


With tensions mounting, Naysa found herself shutting down, even more than usual. Clueless strangers offering cautious smiles both warmed and warned her heart of all the dangers around her. Kindness was alive, but so was prejudice. One day, Mathias was suddenly called out of class, only to be seen escorted off the property by uneasy police officers. No one knew why.


 When Mathias, one of the only students who had been nice to her, was called out of class and escorted off the property by uneasy police officers, she couldn’t help but wonder why the divide had to exist so clearly.


So, like any curious student, she asked a teacher. Specifically, her history teacher, Ms. Olsen. The police officer’s lack of ease weighed heavily on her brain. “I can understand the fear,” Naysa said, “But why do our two groups have to be seen as so opposite? Having magical abilities does not make us any less human emotionally, only less fragile in the physical sense.”


“They’re scared,” she confirmed, “I think they’re afraid that we could use our powers against them, to the extent that we could use our advantages to unfairly wipe them out of existence.”


After taking a moment to think, Naysa spoke up again. “But if the magical world had wanted that, wouldn’t that have already happened?”


Ms. Olsen just chuckled in response, a touch of nervous energy showing through. “Right now, the magical world is something new to human society. They have no idea what our powers can do. And if history says anything, it’s that humans do not like what they do not understand. In fact, they fear it greatly. Which is exactly why everyone fears a backlash will come, because we are something human society does not understand. We don’t fit into their mould of logic.”


“And if there’s a backlash? What happens then?” Images of her family danced in Naysa’s head, with the divide seeming to become more permanent. It was forming a tidal wave of terror around everything she knew.


“War is not an option,” Ms. Olsen said definitively, “Because, after that, there would never be peace again.” Those words joined the dance in her head, as her thoughts grew to an increasingly dizzy effect.


***


The next few weeks passed in a hazy fever dream. The class found out that Mathias and his family were being suspected of the unfathomable crime of murder by the use of magic. While Mathias was not directly involved, he was looped into the case by association. Human news reports were ruthless, making unfounded claims about the magical world. They said the magical world did not value human lives the same way they valued their own. People claimed to have stories of magical beings implying that their abilities gave them a higher or superior status over others for things as stupid as waiting in line. The trial was carving out further lines of divisions between those with magical powers, and those without.


With all this chaos, the blurred line of Naysa’s life in the middle was not becoming any clearer. While she knew that she was included in this world of magical beings with unfathomable power, she kept one foot in the human world, tethering her to her family and the fear emitting from human society. If she felt anything, it was fear. For Mathias, for herself, for everyone. In a bloodbath like this, no one was bound to be left unscathed.


Words bounced around her head as she tried to figure out a way to calm the fear. In school, she had been taught that citizens have the right to voice their concerns. Despite her murky sense of belonging, she knew her voice could be shared.


In a trial so divisive, the media had been allowed inside the courtroom for recording purposes only. According to the media, the public had a right to know exactly what was going on in such a pivotal case. As Naysa watched the trial play out on her TV, Ms. Olsen’s words had kept bouncing around her head. If war is not an option, the answer must be diplomacy. There had to be a conversation.


Like so many witches before her, Naysa could make herself blend in. While the government had obtained information on everyone’s magical statuses, most magical beings looked no different than anyone else, unless they chose to. With her small stature and wide, doe eyes, Naysa found her way into the court hall with ease. It was only when she opened the door using magic that she started hearing footsteps running in her direction, echoing on the hallway floors. Inside the courtroom, she felt the atmosphere change as every face turned to her, including Mathias. Naysa walked into a wall of silence, as the action in the courtroom stopped and every camera turned to her.


Her eyes widened at the weight of the courtroom’s gaze. Would they really listen to a young witch? In the crowd, Mathias’s eyes were the size of saucers, but she found other familiar faces sitting on the same side, nodding at her to continue. When she heard urgent footsteps of courtroom security stop behind her, and that’s when she truly knew she had everyone’s attention.


“I came today because I’m scared. All the time,” she said. “I was raised as a human, like my parents, but because I have powers, I’m something else. I’m a witch. Strangers smile at me on the street, only because they don’t know what I am. This trial is only making everything worse, and for me, more confusing. I go to school with Mathias. He was one of the only people who was nice to me. Just because I have powers, why do people think I’m not scared?


“This trial has been so divisive, I’m surrounded by fear on all sides. You fear what we can do. We fear what you will do to us, with just one wrong move. Every day, I hear lies about what I am through other people. Things I know to be untrue. This feels like a witch trial.” The crowd stayed silent, but to anyone there, they could feel the atmosphere change with her words. It was her bravery to share her voice that started the conversation.


While Naysa didn’t realize it at the time, her words put a new kind of understanding into action between magical and non-magical people. It felt like forever, how long some people had been looking for a saviour in the chaos. But for a girl who never felt chosen, the truth was the very opposite. She bridged the gap between two groups; her words and understanding shaped our future. If only she had realized, the prophecy had always been about her. Naysa was someone to fight without picking up a sword.

May 23, 2020 03:17

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2 comments

Andre Benjamin
00:06 May 28, 2020

Hi Talia, Thank you for an interesting read! I'm writing to you for the critique circle, so I'll briefly discuss my thoughts about this story. As different writers we have different voices, so understand my following critiques are merely opinions. In no way, shape or form am I trying to belittle your art. The first sentence really hooked me in. The comparison between the prophecy and a mist really immersed me into the mystery of what you were trying to convey. I felt however that that mystery was lost somewhat over the next few paragrap...

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Talia Vander
19:36 May 30, 2020

Hi Andre, Thanks for your critique! It's good to have some more thoughts on my story, with areas to improve on in the future. I don't write many short stories, but I'm trying to exercise that writing muscle a little more, starting with this submission. There is a lot of world building in this story, and I think the difficulty you're seeing comes from my usual preference for longer stories, as well as the perspective I decided to take. I may have jumped into the short story head first, by having my story take place in a world a little diff...

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