“Come here, darling,” she says, though I am not old enough to crawl. She pulls me from my crib, and my chubby baby legs kick out. She smiles, and I grin back, blissfully oblivious. She closes her eyes, inhaling deeply and deliberately. She picks up a needle and slowly, carefully, draws a little notch in her arm – not large, just big enough for a drop of blood to fall and land on my baby skin. A smudge of charcoal, the cold touch of snow on my skin, whispered words in my uncomprehending ear – and it was over. The moment that would change the rest of my life.
Why my mother did it, I’ll never know. When I was born, I was normal – but she was not content to let me remain so. I had no idea, of course. But something inside me had changed unalterably that day.
I was magic.
Was this magic supposed to be a tool? Was it supposed to ease my life?
It did neither.
Magic brings out the worst in people. Even if they never knew, a part of them could always sense it in me. It attracted them – and repulsed them at the same time. They reached out, unbidden, to touch me, but they always recoiled.
The only good part of this was that no one ever knew what it was that made me different, that so attracted them and repulsed them.
But that could never have lasted.
She stares at me. She stares at me all the time.
She smiles, but not like my mother used to. My mother smiled in love. She smiles in anticipation.
Her smile grows every time I see it, like a child anticipating Christmas. When finally her smile has reached its peak, she grabs my arm and drags me to her chambers. My mind flashes to the dreams I still have – dreams of my mother, of her whispered words, of snow and cinders – but this is different. In all my dreams, my mother was gentle. She is not. Her grip tightens on my arm with every step she takes. My cries of protest mean nothing to her.
The chamber is dark. My heart beats too loudly.
She’s singing – no, not singing. I’ve never heard singing like this – singing dark and foreign and icy and harsh with greed. I whimper, but it’s not until she completes the first verse that it really affects me.
I crumple to the floor. My blood wants to leave my body, but I have no open wounds. It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before. The chanting has become trapped in my head, bouncing around, crashing through my neat rows of thoughts and memories and sending them all flying into disarray. Thoughts don’t follow each other as they should. Memories become lost in the crevices of my mind – the now is all I know, and the now is terrible.
It won’t be until later that I realize what she wants: she wants to take my magic.
Her hold over me is too strong. She may have failed to steal my magic, but forged a bond she has. It tugs at me every hour of every day, clawing at my feeble magic. My teeth are near constantly clenched, biting an imaginary bullet. Perhaps that is another reason no one ever comes too close: they can sense the pain beneath the surface.
I am a creature not meant for magic, but it’s been laid upon me, a well-intentioned curse. Magic can be wonderful – a miracle, a joy – but when it is forcefully bestowed, when someone tries to take it when it’s settled, when they pull on your magic from afar, when you haven’t the strength to cast a spell, when all that’s left is the pain – that is when magic is terrible.
This is my own peculiar brand of magic, nothing but a parasite to the host.