Featured Review on this writing by Oleg Roschin

Familiar

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium


Winston is waiting for the school bus, but this school isn't like any other. A magical bird extended the invitation and he's been leaving Winston notes for weeks now. Is the school an answer to
Winston's wildest dreams, a cruel prank, or simply his overactive imagination?

Submitted: February 22, 2018

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Submitted: February 22, 2018

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Winston fiddled with his braces. He knew he'd have straight teeth by next year but, by gosh, they were bothersome! He cast his eyes around the busy thoroughfare, it swarmed with the blacks and reds of Piccadilly traffic. He glanced at his watch. It was eight-fifteen and the invitation read eight o'clock, Monday Morning. Winston fiddled with his braces again.

 

A couple of girls snickered as they walked by him. The cause? Winston's neon orange coat, wildly out of fashion and technically inside out. The invitation had made matters clear though, the magical bus only arrived for children that wore the school uniform. Winston shifted the triple belts of his satchel around, bringing the bag to his front. He'd seen the beaten up bag in his local charity shop and fallen in love with it instantly. Over the weeks he'd added some patches, woven some ribbons into the belts (very wizardy, he thought) and now it was his own. Best of all, his mother was impressed by his citizenship and the donation to her favourite charity. It was the least Winston could do for her before he went. Teardrops threatened the corners of his eyes and Winston blinked quickly to beat them back. Mother would be fine; when he came back from his apprenticeship he'd use his magic to make the world better, and buy her the new curtains she'd seen in her catalogue.

 

An invitation from a School of Magic wouldn't have excited Winston had it not been for the 'signs'. Let's face it, if you got an 'invitation' from said school you'd see prank written all over it, right? But Winston had been interested in Magic all his life (well, all eleven years of it). Not the magic of birthday parties, card tricks and the like. No, real magic. Like in the books he read to stave off the siren call of sleep. Even the most mundane of books comes to life after midnight. So, a seemingly ordinary bird which tapped at his window and left notes about a magical school made absolute sense to Winston. Not everyone got an Owl for a familiar, he'd decided. Besides, it had been going on for weeks now.

 

A ball of paper made a soft ricochet off Winston's forehead forcing him back to reality.

“Told you he'd fall for it!” A short kid dressed in jeans and a faded red t-shirt came marching over. He should have been in his blue blazer and tie at this time, he rarely was. His accomplice pointed to the inside out coat and guffawed. “I knew it was worth training your Dad's Pigeon”, the first boy continued, “plus I was well bored.”

“Loser!” the second boy taunted. Winston could feel cold tears splashing down his cheeks, he did his best to wipe them away and still look strong. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to look at his tormentors. Winston gave a final snivel but said nothing, they weren't worth his words.

 

Satisfied they'd achieved their aim (the boy had cried all he would) they fished out a pair of half-bent cigarettes from their pockets and puffed their way into the crowds, laughing. Winston stood alone, truly alone. For all his eleven years magic had been his friend, now even that abandoned him. Unsure what to do, Winston fiddled with his braces again. He checked his watch, 9.34 AM. The bus wasn't coming. He thrust his hands in his pocket, ready to leave, and a crinkle of paper met his hand. He pulled out the advert for the Museum of Magic in Cornwall and made a resolution to visit in the summer. Magic may have abandoned him, but Winston wouldn't abandon it. His resolve returned, he closed his eyes and thought of the summer ahead, smiling away his tears.

 

It was at that moment that an old red bus appeared from nowhere, filled with children dressed in orange and the electricity of excitement.

“Sorry we're late”, the driver gave a cheerful apology, “hop on.” Winston grabbed the safety rail and hauled himself up. He needed to feel the cold of the metal, to take it in, to know it was real. One of the ribbons from his bag worked loose and floated to the ground but Winston didn't notice. He needed to find a seat and the bus looked packed. Finally, he noticed a free seat three-quarters of the way back and plopped himself down. This was it!  Eleven years of waiting evaporated in a moment of bliss.  He looked around the bus and found his smile reflected in every face he met.  An older boy nodded his head at Winston, his coat covered in badges, and gave Winston a 'first-day?' thumbs up.

 

Back in Piccadilly, the ribbon finished its float to the ground and disappeared the second it met with the concrete.  The bus was nowhere to be seen.


© Copyright 2018 India Emerald. All rights reserved.

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