= Chapter Three: Magic? =
Straightening my pleated black skirt in the mirror, I made sure that my outfit was perfect. The black half cut jacket I had pulled over an ice blue camisole looked great with the like colored accessories I wore like my hair clip, which was present from Alex during our first year together. He strode out of the bathroom a few seconds after that thought. He descended onto the bed and stretched like a cat. Since we came home he had been unnaturally quiet about my decision. He either lounged in front of the television or was doing some menial thing to occupy his time. Only sporadically he paid attention to my preparations.
Through the mirror I saw him run his eyes over my clothes. Something he saw there made him furrow his brows.
âWhy are you getting so dressed up for some magic show?â he asked when I left to get my boots.
âItâs not just any magic show. Terra the Immovable is performing.â
He rolled his eyes at my impersonation of Liza from earlier when she showed us the poster. âHeâs, like, the best there is!â she had said. âNo smoke, no mirrors, no trap doors. He doesnât even use sheets and stuff like those other guys. Heâs amazing.â
Her enthusiasm had relieved me of some of my guilt, but every now and then Alex would give us these suspicious looks. I wished I could just tell him everything. I wasnât used to keeping things from him. But, you know what they say: âIf wishes were horses, beggars would ride.â
âI donât like his looks.â My boyfriend was moodily looking at the very poster Liza had given us.
âYou donât like how any guy thatâs not you looks.â
âNot true,â he retorted. âI like how Darth Vader looks. That suit is boss.â
âHeâs not real so he doesnât count.â
I got a careless shrug on that one. âSays you.â
It was my turn to roll my eyes. I could put up with cocky, playful and even angry Alex. It was moody Alex that got under my skin. Bag on shoulder, I checked my watch on the way down the stairs. The show was in fifteen minutes and it was a ten minute drive to the performance venue so Liza had exactly five minutes before we were technically late.
I sat on the edge of the couchâs arm in the meantime. Allie had followed me in to living room and was leaning near me.
âI donât like this,â he stated.
âPlease, youâre beginning to sound like those guys in the horror flicks who die first.â
Eyes still glues to mine, he replied, âIâm not kidding.â As proof, he stood in front of me and took my hands. âSomething about this doesnât feel right. I want you to be careful and try not to stay out too late.â
âAlright, Dad.â My joke fell ridiculously flat. âLook, I know how dangerous the city is; Iâll watch my back. I promise.â
A hand rose to cup my face. Like always, my cheek fit perfectly in his palm. His eyes were so reflective and open that I could see myself in the sea of worry.
âI promise,â I repeated.
A car honked outside. Allie didnât even look. Another anxious honk had him clenching his jaw in annoyance. I pressed a quick kiss to the tense line that was his lips, felling them automatically melt beneath mine. Of course, he wasnât going to be throwing tables and chairs out the window as long as I was there to calm him.
With that I slipped out of the apartment toward the noisy vehicle in the driveway. She immediately stopped then. Once I had my feet in the car, it lurched backwards.
âWeâre late,â was all Liz said in her defense.
The return to the road was smooth disregarding the jerking movements of the wheels as the juggled between full throttle and hasty breaks. The number that came up on the speedometer when we were actually on our way was what really scared me. Imagine a little silver Nissan rocketing through the streets of Manhattan missing collisions by mere inches just to reach somewhere any normal person could get to at rush hour with less stress. Where were the cops? Not that I particularly wanted to see them, but why werenât they doing their jobs?
Liza hardly noticed my discomfort through her green rimmed fashion glasses. She was focused on getting to an empty parking space before someone Mercedes could. And indeed she did, with great risk to the entire left side of her carâthe side I was on. Heaven help her if she had marginally miscalculated the distance between me and the front of that Mercedes. Alex wouldâve had her lynched.
âPlease take your seats,â we heard from announced on the inside of the building. âThe show is about to begin.â
With a muffled expletive, Liza rushed out of the car. It was a wonder that the windows didnât shatter at the force of her slammed door. When she realized that my pace was incredibly sluggish compared to hers, she practically dragged me into the theatre. We were bursting through the showroomâs doors in time to catch the introduction
âLadies and gentlemen, he has graced us with his presence so many times that weâre beginning to think that he likes it here at the Forest Blue.â
A sort of horrible canned laughter bubbled from the crowd. Liza had managed to find us some seats on the left side of the room. She had fallen into same the spell that had everyone acting like the perfect studio audience the moment we sat down.
âHe has awed us with his mind boggling strength and incredible control over earth. Shall we have him do it again? Please welcome Terra the Immovable!â
I was caught off guard by the screeching cheer that erupted from my cousin to be at my right. My ears rang at the pitch that excelled that of the birds that crooned at my window in the morning. She applauded wildly as a lean man in a dark colored khaki outfit strode onto the stage wearing a grin and bowing to his admirers. He was slimmer than I expected for a fabled strong man. His muscles werenât overly exaggerated but he was bigger than Allie.
His movements were wide arched during his routines, drawing as much attention as possible. One would think that he was trying to do the whole âsleight of handâ thing, but somehow even when you watched the process precisely, there was no way to fault him. The most awe inspiring example of this was a demonstration he rightfully named the âRock ân Rollâ.
Terra moved to the edge of the stage. âCan I have a volunteer? Preferable one who knows how to handle artillery.”
I was tempted to raise my hand just for a shot at him. How would accidentallyâor not so accidentallyâinjuring a magician feel? Would it be a light headed happiness? A devastating bout of guilt?
That thought had taken be by surprise. Why was this rough faced man so infuriating when I had never even met him? It was confusing, but in the outside world, something even more perplexing had happened. Terraâs gun savvy volunteer was Liza. I was quite sure she had never held a gun in her life.
I tried to catch her eye so I could ask her what the hall she was doing, but she was so taken with the charming Terra that I bet she forgot I existed.
âLetâs give Liza a round of applause for offering her skill,â he said pressing a hand to the small of her back. âHer bravery is thoroughly appreciated.â
The crowd obeyed him without hesitation. Meanwhile, he led her to the cannon that had been wheeled out by one of the stage hands. It was the kind you see on TV, ancient but dangerous.
âIf you would?â He handed her a box of matches and went over to the opposite wall.
The same guy appeared again to lock him into these stone manacles that hung from metal chain. In my mind, this did not make for a pretty story to tell his kids. Especially with Liza wielding the trigger to all this madness.
Once he gave her the signal nod, she aimed the end of the weapon at him hesitantly lit the fuse. The look on her face was a sort of faraway one where she seemed to be there though she didnât understand that she was going to be an accomplice in the manâs likely death.
âMany of you have never seen this routine,â he announced as if he wasnât about to be blown away by a 15thÂ century weapon. âIâll explain.â He motioned around as best he could. âThese are the same handcuffs that were on display before the show. Solid cement. Ridiculous, I know. âWhat could this psychopath be thinking?ââ
I glanced back at the fuse that burning dangerously near the halfway mark.
âWell,â he continued, âif you would observe the stage maybe things will be clearer. I intentionally left the remains of my previous acts on the ground to give myself something to work with. Hopefully, itâs enough for me to save myself from getting run through with a cannonball.â
The confident smile he wore made me even angrier. Why was he cutting it so close? Then I remembered. The crowd eats up suspense; just as they were now. There was nothing else for me to do but cross my fingers as took note of how little time he had.
âWish me luck plug your ears.â
A thunderous boom shook the entire room, seats and all. I tried my hardest to see him through the smoke. The cuffs had degraded into piles of dark dust. Terra had pushed himself lightly off of his feet, tucking his legs under and literally rolling up into a ball while in the air. I thought I saw the rubble wind toward him, but another loud thud caused me to flinch.
No, my description of the whole affair was a bit slow. That entire process took up all of three seconds.
I was just as speechless as everyone else when I glanced at the stage after the dust settled. A huge sphere of rock had taken Terraâs place. Its surface was as perfect as could be……that was except for the cannonball that stuck out of it like a zit.
Did the fool survive? I bit my lip in a strange fear for his safety. Until he spoke, of course.
âIs everyone alright out there?â a muffled voice inquired.
It took me a while to grasp that the sound had came from inside of the sphere on stage. His first words would be something stupid, right?
âEverybody take a deep breath,â he instructed.
Under his spell like the rest of them, I released the breath I hadnât even realized I had been holding. I slowly eased my grip on the armrests. My knuckles were hurting.
A foot shoved the ball out of place before pulling back into the shield. His hands ran along the edges of the hole, turning everything they touched to sand. Once the entire front of the sphere was gone we were able to see him, squatting and waving nonchalantly at the audience. That infuriating arrogance of his hadnât moved an inch. I sighed in disgust at my own worry for him.
After simply kicking the rest of the rock into dust, the great Terra the Immovable bowed through the roar of applause and cheering the flooded the room.