Image by Modomori Designs
It was a hot, aimless June. The magic of childhood, as Zack Dore knew it, had reached a sudden, ugly end at the close of the school year. And now, although he and his sister didn’t realize it, they both longed for the same thing: to escape from the world they lived in to one they could control. But there’s no world like that. Least of all the magical ones.
There’d only been two kids at Minzer Reservoir. Zack was too old to play with them–they’d called him “Mister,” and asked him to fix their sailboat. Which he did. Then he’d bicycled away, dragging his feet through the fallen dogwood petals, “summer snow,” wishing he still believed in magic the way he did when he was a kid – last month.
He barely even noticed the shimmering air as he pedaled past Miss Francis’s Dance Studio. Or the fact that the mail box out front had begun to dance. He wasn’t the only one who missed it. People in Middleton didn’t like the impossible. So they refused to notice when it happened.
The morning ballet class was over, and all but one of the children had gone home. The little girl in the pink tutu hopped, pliéd, and tour jetéd about, keeping one eye out for her mother. Miss Francis, who was older than all the people who’d ever attended her school put together, was sleeping in a chair in the corner, her feet still in first position.
Then the little girl spotted the dancing mail box. Delighted, she ran to the open doorway. The box stretched up tall like a man trying to look his best by sucking in his stomach and straightening his shoulders. The little girl let out a spontaneous “Eeeeeeeeeeeee!” and ran out the door.
The mail box wasn’t actually reaching for her. Still, when its lid stretched forward, she considered it a clear invitation. Without a moment’s hesitation she hurled herself toward its open “arm.”
The air adjacent to the letter slot began rushing inward and a sort of whirlpool appeared. It pulsed and vibrated, sucking in all the colors around it—gray sidewalk, blue handicapped sign, orange car fender—like mixed paints down a drain.
Just as the little girl was about to disappear down the vortex, a voice cried, “No!” The startlingly large, alarmingly red-headed woman stepped into view, holding what appeared to be a rolled-up carpet.
The vortex shifted vehemently toward the carpet. The woman hurled it aside and seized the little girl out of the air. There was a loud crackling noise, as if in protest, and then the vortex reversed itself, giving back everything it had swallowed. The mailbox shivered, rose into the air, did a complex pretzel turn, and then clanged back down in its original position, as solid as the metal it was made from.
The red-headed woman plopped the little girl onto the sidewalk. “Go back inside!” The little girl complied, but when she turned to ask, “Why can’t I play with the big box anymore?” the woman was gone.
When the little girl’s mother arrived a few minutes later, she was regaled with the tale of a “dancing mailbox”…
and a “giant lady whose hair was on fire.”
Thoughts: Childhood magic doesn’t last forever. But one day, if your heart is still open, you discover a deeper magic.
To read the next episode, click here.