I used to believe in magic. Then I got older.
Before I existed, my father dreamed of magic and grandeur. He had my entire life laid out before he ever laid out my foundation. Walt was a fantastical person—a creative, inventive, innovative, and loving person. Or so they tell me. Unfortunately, I never got to know him. He died of lung cancer a few years before I came to be.
I was raised by my uncle Roy. He was a sweet man, and as loving a father figure as I could hope for. I was his pride and joy, a monument to my father, and the talk of the nation. My older brother cast quite the shadow, but I rose above and took the family legacy to new heights.
On opening day, I was brilliant. The paint was barely dry when the fans came pouring in; they looked up to me with wonder in their bright eyes, and wide smiles on their joyful faces. They shouted their glee and whispered their wishes. People of all ages found magic within my walls, and I had known it was my destiny to inspire them, to move them to greatness. My uncle was proud…for the two months that he got to know me. He even had a special suite built so I could stay close to the family, until he, too, passed away. The suite was re-purposed, and the family all moved back to California to be with my brother. I was alone.
The years passed and times changed. Sure, I was still looked up to, and the honest few occasionally came through with that innocence and wonder I had grown accustomed to. But, all too often, the looks turned to skepticism and their eyes filled with greed. My keepers, the ones who were supposed to protect me and nurture me, began to see me as a means to profit and a tool for their schemes. My eyes were opened to the truth that magic did not exist. It was simply a lie told to children to keep their parents spending money and to keep the wealthy pockets full.
I felt that I was essentially worthless, capable only of serving and collecting dust and trash. Fairies that once flew around my turrets were replaced with petite women on cable lines, mice that sang and danced in my courtyards became sweaty men in overstuffed costumes with the occasional eye on the youngest of prizes. The magic was dead.
I’m not proud of the thoughts I dwelt on, or the ill-will I harbored for anyone who passed within my realm. Some of this may have been an absorption of those I worked with, but I know my father and uncle would agree that you must own up to what is yours, whether good or bad. To that end, I admit that I was less admirable than I should have been; far less than what the children deserved.
It was about twenty-three years ago that I met the girl who showed me what magic truly was.
She was a tiny thing, only three years old. So young. Her mousy brown hair got tangled in the wind, but that smile never faded once. She just continued to tuck strands behind her ears and run to explore every nook and cranny I had to offer. Her grandparents were delighted to see the extent of her happiness, and promised that they would bring her back.
She visited more often than most. Her father was working on some much-needed repairs to my electrical systems, and she got to tag along on more than a few occasions. I realized one day that I was constantly awaiting her next arrival, anxiously looking forward to every ounce of joy, every longing gaze, and every creative spark that I saw in her eyes. The color was returning to the world, the sun shone a bit brighter in the mornings, and the nightly fireworks were celebrations worth having to show appreciation for each day. The magic was returning, all thanks to her.
She grew older, until she was considered an adult. She spent one last day feeding the turtles in the moat and reading a book by the glow of my chandeliers. I knew she had to leave, and that most likely, she would never come back. I was upset, but I knew it had to be. It was time for her to start her own life of wonderment and stop living mine.
Although I never saw her again and don’t believe that I ever will, I thank my lucky stars—right before I wish upon them—that I was able to call her “friend.” You see, she made me understand that magic is more than what you can see or hear. It’s what you feel. I had seen the secrets behind the illusions of magic that I was supposed to portray, but my mistake had been in believing that, because it was an illusion, the magic never existed. And that is far from the truth. She had also seen the wires on the fairies. But she still believed in the idea of fairies. She had seen the men remove their filthy masks, but she still loved the idea of the characters they represented. Yes, she had displayed a level of disappointment when she was old enough to realize that in all my glory, with all my past, I was now just a restaurant. However, she laid a hand on a plaster wall and smiled anyway. She said, “Cinderella was a slave, too; don’t be discouraged. You can serve people all day, but at night, you’ll dance with royalty. Hold onto that. The sun will set soon.”
The magic is in the idea. In the notion. The concept. It’s in the story.
This was my story; now go tell yours. Be sure to fill it with magic.
This short story was inspired by a writing prompt. The prompt was:
Be a building you know well. Talk about your life and memories.
If this story or prompt inspired you, let me know in the comments!