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Fiction Kids Urban Fantasy

“I want it to be purple,” she asks again. She holds her translucent, plastic cup to my face. I accept it and twist it in my hands to study it, twisting it in the filtered light coming from the kitchen window as I consider her request. 

“Purple, huh?” I ask. “Blue is kind of like purple,” I attempt to hand it back to her, but she crosses her arms over her chest, her head drops as she keeps her gaze on me, and her little mouth opens to hang slightly ajar. "Maybe?" I second guess myself. "In the light?" I hold the cup up to the window to allow the light to filter through it and it does change the color...to an even bluer shade of blue.

“Colors are different. Blue is not purple,” she explains. I nod. She's right. I need a different tack. 

“You’re so smart, Liliana, blue is not purple, but-”

“Everybody knows that Daddy, I’m not smarter than anybody else in my class. We’re the same smart - we're all five.” I should have known that she'd shut down any placation. I am out of my league with her and I tell her so. 

“Well, I think you might be smarter than me,” I sit across from her at her two-foot-high table, the white wooden chair creaks under me as my weight settles on it. I set the cup and we both stare at it for a moment.

“It’s not your fault, Daddy,” she says and reaches across the table to pat my cheek gently. “Can’t you just turn my cup purple? With your magic. Please?”

“That’s not how it works, sweetheart,” I say. My fingers open plaintively but then twitch with restraint. I would love to give my daughter this small thing: a purple cup. It would be an easy spell.

“But you said you can do magic.”

“I said, ‘I used to do magic’ and I thought we agreed not to bring that up again.” I frown. The things kids remember. I never should have told her.

“I lied,” she dismissed with a shrug of her shoulders, but before I could begin to admonish her for it, she continued, “You said you didn’t do it anymore because it wasn’t worth it. Am I worth it?”

I gape at her and pick up the damnable blue cup again. It has been a long time since I agreed not to perform magic, since before she was born. But this? This is so simple a request. Surely when the coven told me I wasn’t to perform magic they meant the bits that could harm people or change time: memory contortions or contagious boils or necromancy (I mean, really, it was only the one time). Surely they didn’t intend for me not to be able to just ever-so-slightly bend the light to make my five-year-old's cup appear temporarily purple. I look at my daughter’s patient, expectant face and I know I’ll disappoint her. I could lose my freedom. I could lose her. That's the part that is not worth it. 

I twist the cup in my hands. “I will always choose you above all else, my dear. That’s why I can’t do magic anymore. I could not put you in harm's way.” There's more to explain, but is five the right age for this conversation? 

Liliana twists her head away from me and I’m not sure if, behind her cloud of champaign-colored hair, she’s gathering her thoughts or crying. I interrupt her in case it's the latter.

“You know, magic is sort of like science,” I offer. She turns back to me, with no trace of tears so that’s a relief at least.

“Mommy does say science is better than magic,” she informs me and I feel slightly more hopeful that I won’t disappoint my little girl. It lessens the pain of the mention of my ex, her mother. 

“She does say that, doesn’t she? So if can make this cup purple with science, instead of magic, will you be happy?” I hold up the cup in question again and she raises an eyebrow at me. I’m genuinely impressed by the judgemental nature of that dark arch over her eye; she must have inherited that from me.  

“What do you mean?” she asks. I’m a little offended about her shrewd skepticism about my abilities, though I shouldn’t be by now. She questions things, something she inherited or learned from her mother. That was something I had loved about her and it’s a relief to see it in our daughter. 

Instead of answering I turn to the pantry and get out the cherry-flavored drink mix, sugar, and a pitcher and proceed to make the disgustingly sweet, artificially flavored potion I know she likes. When it’s mixed, I fill her plastic cup to the brim with the red liquid. I secure a lid over it and pick out a plastic purple straw. I hold it up the light of the window once more. As expected, the red liquid combined with the blue hue of the translucent plastic has made the whole cup look purple.

I bring it over to her with a flourish,” Voila,” I say, “purple.” 

My daughter accepts the full cup with a sigh and a little nod of her head. She takes several gulps and then reexamines the cup, the top of which has now regressed to its original, irritating pigment, a disappointingly true blue. She looks at me over her cup and then nods to the blue bit she knows I can see. 

“Don’t worry about it, Daddy,” she says, her cloud of hair (I really ought to do something about that before her mother picks her up this afternoon) drifts around her face magnifying the effect of the slight shake of her head. “Thanks for the juice.” She gets up and walks out the backdoor to the porch and I want desperately to grab the cup out of her hands and perform the tiniest spell that would at least make the cup appear purple, but I resist. Instead, I pour a cup of the vile potion she calls ‘juice’ into my own blue cup and I follow her outside. 

She turns toward me, her smile more radiant than the early afternoon sun. She shakes the cup and holds it up to me and my focus shifts the object in her hand.

It’s now a deep and undeniable purple. 

“Magic isn’t that hard, Daddy. It’s okay if you can’t do it. I’ll do it for both of us. She reaches for my cup, nearly a foot above her head, and touches one finger to the bottom of it, turning it green. 

“Your favorite color,” she explains with her gap-toothed smile.

July 01, 2022 20:59

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1 comment

Lucid C
14:56 Sep 25, 2023

Interesting twist, was not expecting it


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