This story is by A.P. Bocchino and was part of our 2020 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“Do you want to see a magic trick?” his dad inquired, as he pulled out of his satchel two enchantments. One was a small silver bottle and the other a handheld mirror.
His son hesitated at first. He had seen enough “tricks” over the past 25 years to know how this one would end up. “Uh, okay, sure, Dad, let me just grab my coffee first from the kitchen.”
As he turned around, he heard an odd, high-pitched noise come from the living room where he just was with his dad. He wasn’t sure if the sound came from a creak in a floorboard or if the old walls were talking again as he did live in an older, rundown apartment.
“Dad? Dad? Where are you?” he said, dumbfounded as he peered around the corner of the kitchen into the living room. There wasn’t much to look at it in the tiny living room; just a loveseat against the wall and a reading chair in the opposite corner. It was as if his dad disappeared into thin air.
As he was about to check under the couch, a fly flew in front of his face and he swatted at it. Flies were common this time of year and this fly easily avoided his poor backhanded swing.
“Okay, Dad, come on out,” he said as he got down on all fours expecting to find his dad under the loveseat, but felt deflated when he found crumbs and dust balls.
There was no way his dad left the apartment. The only window in the vicinity was locked. The front door was in the living room, but it had to be wielded with force to open and the entire apartment shook when done so. He would have surely heard his dad leave.
Anxiety overcame him as confusion overwhelmed him. “Where are you!?” he finally yelled out into the empty room.
As he stood there null of how to process the situation, that pesky fly came back. He swatted at it with pure wrath, wanting to take out his frustration about his father on the fly but his efforts were again futile. Then, he heard its annoying buzz go to and fro around the room, but instead of going berserk this time, he waited patiently, as a lion does, as it lies in wait to pounce on its prey.
“Gotchya!” he said with a vengeance.
As fulfilled as he felt for defeating the fly, his emotions shifted immediately from pride to utter confusion. A crackling noise, as if glass shattered, sounded out when the fly hit the ground. The shattering noise was faint as if someone from a distance accidentally dropped a glass bottle onto the street, but he heard it precisely.
Curious, he stooped down to investigate. The fly spun in circles and one of its legs appeared to be grabbing at something on itself. Just as he attempted to pick up the fly for a closer look, it started to get bigger. Not only did it get bigger, but it rapidly transformed.
“What the—” he screamed, as the fly enlarged into a bloody-looking figure.
It was his dad.
“DAD?! Oh my God! Dad! What the hell just happened?!” he shouted as he scrambled back into the wall.
His dad was bleeding all over his right arm but remained calm as he plopped into the reading chair. “I’ll be okay, Jacob, don’t worry about me. Just go get a towel for the blood.”
Jacob dashed into the kitchen but grew frustrated as he could not quickly find a clean towel. As he searched, he heard a loud thump noise.
“Dad? You okay in there?” he yelled as he ran back into the living room with a dirty towel in hand. His heart nearly skipped a beat as he stumbled into the room. His dad was not sitting in the chair. A pig was. A bleeding pig at that! Then, right before his eyes, the pig, holding the handheld mirror, transformed into an iguana, with a bloody right arm. Then the iguana morphed into his father.
“So, what do you think of my magic trick?” his dad said lightly but wincing in pain.
He rushed over to his dad and treated his wounded right arm. “Dad, I…I…have no idea what to say. I am at a complete loss for words,” he stuttered as if he were shivering from a cold.
His dad, calm, looked over to his son and said, “Tah-dah.”
Both chuckled, which helped Jacob regather his thoughts.
“Dad, what just happened? This is the most outrageous, ridiculous—” he stopped talking as his dad pulled out from his satchel the silver bottle and handheld mirror—now cracked.
His dad sighed loudly. “Jacob, these two artifacts are pure magic. I discovered years ago an ancient magic trick derived from European gypsies.”
Puzzled, Jacob raised an eyebrow as he finished wrapping up his dad’s wound.
His dad continued, “This elixir “tricks” the brain into thinking it is something it is not through imagining it then portraying it to the world. You saw a fly because I imagined I was one.”
“Dad, this sounds like sorcery, not magic!” he exclaimed toward his dad with disappointment for attempting such dark magic.
‘But, Jacob, the power can be used for good! I know how hard you work as a teacher with such little pay. I wanted to gift you an escape. To experience freedom!”
He had Jacob’s attention, but Jacob quickly squashed the temptation. “Dad, this is extremely dangerous, I nearly killed you! I’m getting rid of it.”
“No! Please! I finally mastered how to recreate it. Let me explain its power,” pleaded his dad.
Jacob hesitantly obliged.
“My son, you can become any living creature you can imagine. Just a sip of this potion will last a day and while looking into the mirror, itself doused with the potion, tricks others into seeing your imagination while the mirror stores your true self.
He handed Jacob the artifacts. “I want you to try it but heed my warning. Choose wisely what you imagine to become as you will fully become it, but if the mirror completely shatters while in morphosis you will be stuck forever.”
Jacob stared back and forth at the two enchantments for what seemed an eternity. The bottle in his left hand and the cracked mirror in his right. The idea to become anything was too powerful to refuse.
He took a swig and closed his eyes to imagine a falcon. He always wished he could fly and falcons were fierce predators. He stared into the mirror and as he did he felt his body change. He looked down and saw his normal feet but the floorboards were splintering from his talons.
“You did it, son! Now go fly!” his dad jubilantly exclaimed as he dashed to the front door to let Jacob out albeit in pain as the door was even harder to open with his wounded arm.
Jacob put on the satchel with the artifacts inside and flapped his arms as he sprinted across the parking lot. He lifted off the ground and began to rise higher and higher. He felt pure ecstasy as he let the wind carry him across the sky. His vision was impeccable; clear trajectory throughout the limitless sky…until something caught his attention. A teenage girl. Resisting two men forcing her into a vehicle about a mile away.
“What do I do?” he nervously thought, “I have to call for help!” But only a squawk-noise left his mouth. He forgot his true identity was in the mirror. Deep down he knew he was her only help even though she didn’t even know it.
One man tussled with the girl as the other climbed into the backseat to pull her in.
He plunged down through the sky toward the defenseless girl. He mustered his inner strength. “This is it! I’ll save”—then a sharp doubt crept in—“but what about the mirror?” his thoughts raced as he braced for impact.
CLASP! FLAP! CLASP!
Jacob lacerated the man’s back with his left talon and flapped his wings to keep his balance on him then again attacked with his right talon clasping into the man’s shoulder blade.
The surprise attack freed the girl from both men and she sprinted away. But then she abruptly stopped and turned back with a look of confusion. She locked eyes with the falcon for what seemed to be a minute but was no more than a second. Jacob knew she would never comprehend what just happened but least she was free. She nodded as a token of her appreciation to him then ran off.
The other man who was inside the car had gotten out and punched Jacob as he was looking at the girl.
Jacob hit the ground hard. Dazed, he looked up to see the man standing over him, but with a confused face as if he had just heard glass shatter.