The Magic Show
Written by Rebekah Postupak
The squirrel landed with a thud. Marina glared at her magic wand in disgust. The squirrel ought to have pirouetted three times and then floated lightly to the ground before performing a deep curtsy. The curtsy was crucial: the Queen would be watching, and it wouldn’t do for an untried fairy’s first demonstration to offend her potential new boss. But this squirrel had done none of those things. It had given an unearthly little shriek and plummeted off its branch to the ground.
Marina gritted her teeth and motioned for the next squirrel to get into place on the branch. Whispering the spell’s words carefully, she flicked the wand in the squirrel’s direction, winding a trail of pretty golden sparks through the air. This squirrel wobbled dizzily and then—thud.
It took seventeen attempts to eke out even one pathetic pirouette, and another ten to manage a second. By the time Marina finally managed to produce a pirouetting squirrel that didn’t careen like an overripe tomato to the ground, a small mountain of moaning squirrels lay at her feet.
“It’s all for the cause,” she said airily, as though the tiny, sniffling squirrels were deeply invested in her possible appointment to the royal court. “Now—next one. Move it!”
That night Marina performed at her absolute finest. She watched the Queen out of the corner of one eye—was that a yawn? Marina strutted and glowed with her best magic, while squirrels danced magnificent arabesques and pas de deux above their heads. The Queen leaned to her left and chatted with a knight. Meanwhile, the squirrels spun! They leapt! Boredom etched the Queen’s face. Was she about to raise a hand in dismissal?
In desperation Marina climbed to the narrow platform herself, flinging sparks of magic everywhere. Eight squirrels stood in trembling perfection on either side of her. She drew a deep breath and whispered the spell one last time. Perfection!!! One by one each squirrel turned three perfect, graceful pirouettes before soaring in glorious arcs to the marble floor. And yes! The Queen saw the whole thing, with curiosity now sparkling in her eyes!
Now for the finish, and the job would be hers!
Marina smirked triumphantly at the squirrels below her, pirouetted three times, and stepped off the platform.
Hey—why was the Queen leaving?
Did this mean she got the job?
Was it true about the bottomless spending account and access to the Queen’s private closet?
Would her unforgettable show be the talk of the kingdom, including among all those stupid pixies and gnomes she’d had to step on to get this far?
Wait—where was her wand?
No, really. Wait. Why was one of those flea-infested, rat-faced squirrels grinning nastily back at her?
Marina landed with a thud.
462 words, inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought flash challenge and incorporating a variation of the mandatory starting sentence and optional Judge’s Challenge to include the concept of kharma.