is an excerpt of the story
by Kate England
Enchantments: The Many Facets of Magic
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Saturday, I remember it was
a Saturday. In June, I think. The breezes were still silky and cool in the
morning, but by noon the humidity had made it hard to breathe. All a sane
person can do is sip lemonade in the shade and watch with jealous
befuddlement as the kids find the energy to run endless circles through
the sprinkler. That Saturday I saw the most beautiful thing in the world.
But I saw it too late.
I had moved out to rural New
Hampshire after Evy was born. I had scraped up enough money to put a down
payment on a small ranch on two acres of land smack in the middle of
nowhere. After the crushing press and incessant noise of Boston, it was
almost as if the silence of the country had swallowed us whole.
Sarah had hated the move,
and I swear she made an effort not to make friends at school. Instead of
posters of cute boy bands and movie stars, she insisted on plastering
dragons, fairies, and other fantasy-land animals on her wall. I once tried
to explain that this wasn’t the best way to impress friends, she rolled
Our neighbors were out of
sight, but not too far away. Sometimes children would appear from nowhere
and play with mine. They’d tumble around in the yard, or make monkeys of
themselves on the swing set before mounting their bikes, grass-stained and
muddier than when they arrived, and head back to their own families.
Working from home as a
marketing and public-relations correspondent to several firms in
Manchester and Concord, I could watch the girls play through my office
window. I designed advertisements, wrote up press releases, and basically
shined up their respective self-images. Working at home was supposed to
keep me closer to the girls. It was supposed to help us reconnect.
Instead, every time they came inside from playing, I could feel my
shoulders tighten up and burn, like someone extinguishing a cigar deep in
Evy, the baby at five years
old, saw it first. She tried to tell me about it.
“Mama,” she said to me while
I was tucking here into bed. “Mama, I saw a horse in the woods today. Or a
cow. Or a deer.”
“Which one did you see,
baby?” I asked with a smile.
Evy frowned at me, her
glassy blue eyes glittering with frustration as she wrinkled her brow and
tried to explain. “It was like all of them, Mama” she said. She shook her
head and sighed looking as pensive as a five-year-old can. I smoothed her
dark hair, which had curled with the summer heat.
“It looked like all of them?
A horsecowdeer? A corse? A heer? A dow?” I asked and tickled her. She
giggled and laughed, and tickled me back with her tiny hands, but then
grew serious; pushing my tickling fingers away, shaking her head.
“No, Mama. It was very
pretty.” She yawned and settled into bed. I smiled and kissed her
I moved to Sarah’s side of the room. She had a small reading lamp clipped
to a large book she was reading: The Complete Fairy Tales by the
Brothers Grimm. I sighed and she looked at me over the edge of the
book without moving her head.
“Night,” she said, flicking
her eyes back to the book.
I sat on the edge of her
bed. Sarah’s shoulders tightened and she slipped a scrap of paper between
the pages and lifted her eyes to look at me. It wasn’t quite a glare.
“What were you and Evy doing
out in the woods today?” I asked.
“Evy said she saw something.
We went looking for tracks but I didn’t see anything. Something has eaten
the buds off all the clover in the side yard, and got some of your
lettuce. Evy said it had horns, and looked weird. But nice.”
“I don’t like you wandering
around out there. There could be bears,” I said.
Sarah just shrugged, her
eyes on the book.
The next morning Sarah was
up before me and I saw her shoveling cereal into her mouth as she stood by
the window, dressed in sweatpants and a loose-fitting T-shirt. Her dark
hair was cropped boyishly short, something she insisted on doing herself,
grudgingly allowing me to even out the back. Her thirteenth birthday had
come and gone two months ago. She had her father’s dark brown eyes, and
her skin soaked up the sun, turning her as brown as wheat bread.
I was surprised to see Evy
up at this hour. She was her sister’s opposite, fair where Sarah was dark,
with milky skin that burned on a cloudy day, and hair that turned blond in
“You two are up early,” I
said as I opened the fridge and fumbled for the can of coffee.
“We’re going for a walk in
the woods,” Sarah said between mouthfuls.
“Are you going hunting for
noncommittal, but Evy nodded as milk dripped down her chin and her eyes
gleamed with excitement. “It was pretty!”
They buzzed in and out of
the house for days, barely stopping to eat. Television became a forgotten
pastime, and other children stopped visiting.
I was on the phone,
explaining to a marketing rep why it was better to work through me than a
faceless advertising agency, when Evy and Sarah burst in through the door.
They were a flurry of giggles, exclamations, and breathless excitement.
“Hold on one moment,
please,” I told the droning marketing rep. The girls had caught the tone
of my voice and I saw Evy wilt. I jabbed my finger towards the stairs and
raised my eyebrows. I mouthed the “Now” at the girls and fought the urge
to stamp my foot.
Sarah stiffened and her eyes
narrowed. She put her hand on her sister’s shoulder and guided her
After making the sale, I
went back to my office and sorted through files, making lists of clients
to call on the next day.
“What were you two so
excited about this afternoon?” I asked as I scooped mashed potatoes onto
Evy didn’t say anything; she just pushed her steamed carrots around her
plate with her fork.
“Is now a more convenient
time?” Sarah asked.
“You heard me,” she snapped
her dark eyes smoldering as she glared at me. “We wouldn’t want to
inconvenience you, Ma. I’d hate if the sound of your kids laughing made
you lose out on some cash.”
“You better watch your
mouth, young lady, or you will be very hungry tonight,” I replied,
feeling the heat rush to my face.
“I didn’t have much of an
appetite anyway,” she said as she shoved her plate towards me hard enough
to spill carrots all over the table...
Mom may not be aware of what's really
going on, but it won't take childhood innocence to see what's out there...
if only she'll look.