Out of Toronto 4.0
Making a Friend
Mom and dad had yelled at each other the night before. They did that a lot. Always about how I wasn’t ok. I was just fine back then. I might not be now, but I was then. I played with my cousins and got into everything, I loved all the books they gave me, even the physical ones.
Mom said she was going to try to get me to connect with a spirit. Dad said they should take me to see the doctor. I always eavesdropped on their conversations. I didn’t understand how I was hearing them when they were on the other side of the house. But I’d lie in my bed and think about the kitchen sound system and it would just feel like I could hear them crystal clearly in my head.
My mother had magic. My father didn’t, at least not that I knew about. They both insisted that I must have it. I’m not sure why. I have a pet theory, but I don’t think I want to know the truth.
Mom had been doing little magic tests on me from when I was little. She’d taught me more about it by the time I was 5 than most people ever know. Or rather, she tried to teach me.
It didn’t make sense to me, I didn’t like it, and when she’d pull out a commlink, I was so engrossed in the tech that I couldn’t pay any attention. Our house was mostly old furniture, wood and stone. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with tech then. We had basic essentials that any corp drone had, but they thought the world was great back in the 1800s or something. At least that’s what I remember. It was a lifetime ago.
This day I remember though. Mom came into my room early and said that I was going to make a new friend today and she was really excited about it. I wasn’t. I got up and put on my nice dress and went down into the living room. A girl just a little older than me was spinning around in circles with her arms flared out. She was wearing a yellow sundress and had bright pink hair pulled up into pigtails. The yellow dress glowed as flares of color spun off it in swirls of magic.
“Hi, do you want to be my friend?” She stopped spinning in front of me and swayed a little before stopping and bouncing on her toes. I was sure she started to shimmer while she waited for me to respond. I was afraid she would vanish if I waited even a moment to consider.
“Yes!” I shouted and as I did she snapped into focus. She was real, everything else I’d ever known wasn’t real but she was. This had to be the magic mom and dad were trying to get me to feel and understand. I wanted them to know that I could do it and they could stop yelling. But mostly I wanted everything in my world to be real. Bright, crisp, solid.
“I’m Meg. And you’re Mellie. And we can be friends forever.” My name wasn’t Mellie. I’m not really sure I even remember what my name was anymore. But she was real, and she saw the real me and my real name. “We are M and M.”
We took hands and spun around and around in circles together for what seemed like forever. Finally, I let go and fell onto the floor, the room spun around me, because it wasn’t real.
“My mom is going to be so happy. She was so mad I couldn’t do magic. They thought I was broken. Mom and dad are always fighting about it.” I held my arms in the air above me and watched as they swayed around in circles above me. Meg locked her fingers with mine.
“Mellie, I don’t think you should tell your mom about me. She won’t understand my magic. She’ll never understand our magic.” I remember she sounded so sad.
“She’ll have to, we can make her understand.” I gave her a hug and she squeezed me so hard I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to break the sadness. “Let’s play a game!”
“I love games.” She jumped up and down and squealed. “Let’s play the M and M game!”
I frowned, I thought I knew all the magic games, but I’d never heard of it. My cousins always played magic games and some of them were really good at them. I wasn’t, but I knew the rules. Meg spun around again and hummed. At the time I never considered she might be making the game up on the spot.
“The M and M game is the best game. In the M and M game you have to…find 2 things next to each other that both start with M. They have to be touching.” She and I stepped to so were next to each other almost shoulder to shoulder though she was taller, and linked hands. “They both have to be real.” I knew what was real now. Most of the stuff in my house wasn’t real, their colors were faded and I couldn’t touch them like I could touch Meg.
“And you have to capture it, it isn’t real if you don’t capture it.” She leaned down to share a secret. “I trust you, I just can’t always be here, sometimes I’ll have to go away.” She sounded sad again and I squeezed her hand. She squeezed back and her instant grin filled the room.
She took my hands and we peeled apart the world. She showed me a secret place. It was completely real, and it was ours. It was amazing, beautiful, I still can’t describe it to anyone else. Something that was so much more than a picture of she and I filled the space.
“I get the first point.” She giggled wildly and I joined in. “Takes us home Mellie!” She shouted as a captain to her first mate, and I did. I knew the way, I knew how to peel the world to find our place. She hugged me as I brought us back to the pale, false world and then she faded away.
Some time later mom came in with an armload of magic stuff and yelled at me to stop laying on the floor and help her.
Everything around me was so unreal I started crying, but it knew that would just make mom and dad more angry with me. I wiped my eyes off with the sleeves of my dress and tried a smile at mom.
“I met her. The magic girl. Magic Meg.”