What does magic mean to you?
Whatever it means—however it feels—you likely know the feeling, that moment of innocence lost, the sharing of words better left unsaid. These are points of no return, of horrible devastation and insurmountable grief.
But within these moments, at the bottom of the crater they leave behind, cracks begin to form. Water trickles in, pooling, paving the way for life where once there was none. It’s glacial, this process, and there are days, weeks, months during which we swear the water has not risen, that the lichen now growing on the crater’s sides must have always been there.
It surprises us to learn this is not the case. We’re astonished to discover it was the acceptance of comforting words from a friend, the pressing of pen to paper or brush to canvas from which this life grew, from which the lake before us sprung forth.
And in time, the water’s softly lapping waves beckon us. We dip in our toes, but the water proves too cold. We fear we’ve forgotten how to swim. We fear what lies beneath, for the crater is still there.
But the crater, we must understand, never disappears, not truly. There is no erasing its impact, no denying the ruin it once wrought.
That doesn’t mean the life teeming at its edges should be discarded, ignored. That doesn’t mean its magic should be taken for granted.
Because here’s the thing about magic: it isn’t endowed, it’s created, and it’s ever-fleeting.
So when the last of it feels as though it’s left the world—when it feels as though you’ve drawn your last breath—know there’s more to come, but the magic must be sought. It must be captured. We must dive into it, reminding ourselves that we can swim, that we must.
Because, as the titular tale in the And Ampersand collection will tell you, no matter the horrors of our past, our lives have only just begun.
And Ampersand: Short Stories on Endings and Beginnings (of a Sort) is available March 8th, 2021.