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The Girl with Magical Bones
In a town filled with orange trees, moon shine, and the sound of soft ocean currents rocking gently against the succulent-clad cliffs, where night air was thick with perfume and daytime was thin with white light, where you could always hear the mariachi music and never had to wear formal attire, something marvelous happened once. Something fantastic, very marvelous indeed, and marvelous not just in the sense of rubbing sand grains on your skin, each crystal a microcosm of the universe’s larger patterns of golden rectangles, concentric circles, spiky seashells and supernovas and unique as the snow that never falls on the beach, but marvelous in a more secret way.
See, everyone knows that sand grains are a form of magic, the way they are pieces of something big that have become very small but never lost their shape, preserving their whole essence to scale, but this other magic was a secret. In this town by the sea there was a little girl who had magical bones. Only she didn’t know it, and that made it extra marvelous.
Her brothers didn’t have magical bones. They liked to break things, pulling doll limbs apart and putting them in the wrong places as if this was a trick to be proud of. But putting things in the wrong place is never something to be proud of, and while the little girl knew this, and she knew that breaking things wasn’t magic, she didn’t know she had magical bones. Her sisters didn’t have magical bones either. They had very good imaginations, but their magic was a different kind. Even her mother and father didn’t have magical bones. They had stories and science, but not magical bones.
Not even the helicopters her father flew had magical bones. Actually, helicopters don’t have bones at all, but gossamer exoskeletons and bulbous eyes. They could cut through Santana winds, sure, and sweep the grass on the ground flat until it hugged and poked the fat happy bugs under the earth, but it wasn’t magic: just engineering.
Time is the friend of magic on earth, because magic needs help on earth to adjust. Magic isn’t from here, it’s from the Timeless Place, and Time here knows magic needs a while to adjust. Not everyone knows that magic needs time to grow just like babies and birds – which are the strongest magic – and that there is such a thing as magic not being ready yet.
The little girl went to school and mass, and got very tall. That was her magical bones practicing. They stretched until they were long and white, and maybe got a little too long, accidentally, and the girl tripped on her own legs and felt like a shy filly and grew her bangs long to hide behind. Her bones were embarrassed and felt very sorry about it, and tried to make it up to her by settling down and hiding for a while too. Her silly bones didn’t know that you shouldn’t be embarrassed about being magical, and that even magic has growing pains.
And this whole time, the little girl still didn’t know that her bones were magical. There is a lot we don’t know.
The little girl’s magic bones weren’t ready yet, and she was busy learning things too. She learned how to dance and drive and her bones’ blush faded as they felt less and less embarrassed about being magical. They even started to get curious, which is the first step to miracles. They wondered just what magic they could make, and whether they were the only magical bones. They had dreams sometimes of a place with other magical bones, where there was no Time to wait to be ready, but it was all a little fuzzy. The magical bones kept themselves busy growing: this time quietly, secretly, on the inside, not getting long but thick and strong.
Once they were satisfied by their own form and shape, they felt so fresh and happy they knew they needed to keep creating. So they waited patiently until the girl was a woman, letting their magic marinate, and when they thought she wasn’t looking they got to work knitting the bones of her son. They wanted it to be a surprise for her, but were too excited and whispered some hints anyway.
The woman with magical bones was SO happy about her son, and she loved his flexible forming skeleton and his structural soundness, but she didn’t know her bones had done it, though she was pretty sure it was all magic somehow. She was surprised and shocked by the magic, and it changed the size of her heart. It was now the size of the palm tree branches that she drove her bus between on the sizzling road.
While she was smiling and singing with her son, distracted, and sewing calico pillows for a love seat, her bones kept knitting their magic and storing it for later. They knew there would be more to do. And very soon there was, for the son kept getting bigger and needed more magic from his mother. There were less orange trees now even though it was spring, but there were bicycles and footballs. One day, the woman’s son broke his own bone, accidentally, and his mother worried and reached down deep for some magic to ease him. Even though she didn’t know it, the magic she found came from her magical bones. They kept knitting and knitting and secretly showed her how to help him heal his arm. Years later he tore his shoulder and his mother’s magic helped him put a pin in his bones, while she sat by his bed and loved him.
The woman with the magical bones knit a daughter too, and she began to know that there was something marvelous about bones even though she couldn’t put her phalanges on it. The magic surprised her again and her heart was so large now, as big as Mt. Shasta, and her magical bones had to knit it an extra support beam. Her heart kept getting bigger and bigger because she didn’t know she had magical bones, and her humility made her magical bones chuckle.
The woman still didn’t know her bones were magic, but she learned their names and even sang them to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to study for a test. She colored pictures of bones and learned how to take their portraits with x-ray zappers, stirring the universe to make atoms dance and sizzle and show that our insides are like sand, and sand is like the solar system, and the solar system is like bones always knitting and growing. She gave dog-bones to her dogs, and discussed bones with her colleagues, and sometimes made soup with bones. She even had a piano whose keys were made of elephant bones, which were dense and lined and almost magical – but not quite.
The woman loved bones and the love made the magic simmer. Baked over time and a high temperature, the love brought a mystery followed by another miracle. Love tends to do that.
Never forget that there is magic in the world, but also never forget that there is anti-magic. I don’t know why that is, but it’s the case that one of the ways you can identify the magical nature of magical things is by looking out for whether anti-magic tries to stop it. Why anti-magic doesn’t want magic to succeed, I don’t know. But it doesn’t. Probably it’s jealous, probably it secretly likes magic and lot and just is angry about something, probably it can’t help itself, but any way you look at it anti-magic is mean. There are mysteries in the world, like hunger and caste systems, and anti-magic can be the cruelest.
Even before the woman knew she had magical bones, the anti-magic knew about her and grumbled in it’s dark heart, and attacked. For years the woman’s magical bones kept knitting and loving, as the anti-magic got closer and closer, rallying it’s troops with bone crushing teeth, but it was hard on them having to fight the anti-magic all the time.
But the magical bones fought valiantly. The magical bones used great weapons like cheese and ice cream and long walks with the dogs up a dusk-lit hill and down to the serpentine river, the one where otters and salmon swam and rain flooded. They rattled in the car and shook on the dance floor to keep the anti-magic away. The magical bones trucked along as best they could, but they had weak spots where the anti-magic and it’s bone-crushing teeth seeped in, and they got confused. They kept knitting and knitting, but they knit in the wrong places sometimes and sometimes changed shape where they shouldn’t. And the anti-magic laughed at them.
Magic should never change shape, and when it does, it is like something being put in the wrong place. Sand doesn’t change shape when it shrinks, and the universe doesn’t change shape when it expands, and love never changes shape. So when magic does, there is a problem and something needs to be done. Time can’t fix it. Only love can.
Luckily by now the woman with magical bones had such a large heart that her love was bigger than anti-magic. So, one day, in a different town by the sea filled with the tallest trees and the wettest fog in the world, the woman had to put porcelain and metal in her bones to help them. She took out the parts that were the wrong shape, where the anti-magic had killed them, and her magical bones were relieved.
Now it was safe for them to work on their greatest miracle of all, but it would take them some time. Lots of time. They would need the woman’s help, so they whispered some of their secrets to her in her sleep. They told her about magic, about how to see it. She was so surprised and overjoyed to learn she had magical bones, but very serious when she heard about time. She thought about how to get time, and watered her garden, and let her magical bones make themselves new.
Time had helped the magical bones remember: there is a valley of dry bones, where the Magical Bones are from. These dry bones were breathed on by God and the marrow returned, and they plugged themselves into the matrix of the universe’s shape, they knitted and knitted, and from the four corners of the world they drew green sap and dew and morning sunlight, making sinews, forming joints, until they were the right shape and became alive.
The woman’s magical bones remembered what it was like to come alive outside Time. They wanted to go to the Timeless Place, where there was no anti-magic. They wanted it to be a surprise for the woman, but still, they tried to give her little hints and clues. They whispered in her dreams and told her not to be afraid, not to worry, not to let the dark world make her afraid.
The magical bones got stronger and stronger until they didn’t need Time anymore. Time didn’t mind, and gave the magical bones a high-five as said, “See you later, alligator.”
Finally one afternoon, from her spot on the rocking chair facing the forested hills between the ocean and the stars, the woman knew it was time for the miracle. The sky cleared and the white light of day grew lighter and lighter, and her body grew lighter and lighter, and the magical bones put away their knitting needles and stretched. They sprouted into wings, and scattered dew behind the woman as she flew up, up into the sun.
The dew fell on everything she loved, and it all sprouted wings too. Her garden, the ocean, her children, her husband, all the pictures of bones, her favorite United States President, the songs she liked to sing, all the people whose broken bones she had helped heal, all these things sprouted wings and were lifted up as the magical bones spread their Great Magic. The prettiest bone wings, alabaster white and thin as gossamer, glistening in the sun, helped leave Time and Space behind until the woman with magical bones reached the Timeless Place with everything she had ever loved.
As she stood on the shore of the Timeless Place breathing in the smell of orange blossoms and listening to the crash of a wild new sea, the woman with magical bones laughed and laughed at how easy it had been and how little time it had taken for miracles. She could see the shape of the universe, and it matched the shape of her life. And her magical bones were happy, so happy, because they had come home to their town without time, where everything is the proper shape but bigger – grains of sand at the scale of the supernovas, perfect proportion, and joy is a solid rather than saltwater. The woman’s heart was so large now, it had become magic itself.
How do I know about girl with magical bones? Well, because she's real. I know it for sure, because she is my mother.
#Unreal #ShortStory #CreativeWriting #MagicalBones
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