My father was an alchemist. His life was enthralled by the art. It is a dying thing really. He always said,“ The less people believe the less people try. People today get bored so easily and like to be comforted by the idea that science can answer every question that will ever be asked.”
Alchemy is a study of connections; that is the first thing he taught me. I think I was only about five. He held a rock in his hand and chuckled, “This rock is related to the vary things that make up you and me. If I were really good I could change it, just like that, but that is why I study, and why I am going to teach you and your brother everything I know.”
My brother was a little less sane. He hated the precision needed for Alchemy, but loved to adventure into the unknown all the same. He was a great magician, though the title sounds silly for a man who poured through dust ridden volumes day and night, prying at spells and recording the language of magic used to execute them. He said, “Magic is just like alchemy, well in a sense. It is the art of playing god.” He never wanted to get me into magic, but that was far from his choice. It is the kind of thing that envelopes your being, and engulfs a family.
And so I studied with them. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the Coghlans were a little off. From the way we dressed, to the mystery that we carried on our backs, never having attended public school people had no venue to truly observe us.
My brother wore a muted-purple hooded cape most of the time. His hair reached out of it, a citrus orange mess and his glossy grey eyes shown like beacons from under the hood. Reynard Coghlan was his name but my father and I took to calling him Reyn. Twelve years my senior he was a second father.
Pan was my father’s name as far as I knew. But, he didn’t talk much about any part of his life before Reyn was born. He barely spoke of our mother, the only thing we were both certain about was that we would never meet her.
About a month ago my father was captivated by a study, as he often became. He was on the verge of something. Reyn mumbled, “His hair is turning grey it’s only natural for him to working on the subject immortality, if you ask me it’s a waste of time though.”
Reyn loved the quick satisfaction of magic. One spell and the task was accomplished. He took the repercussions well and new how to fane away them well. Whatever or whoever created our world does not like the idea that there is the possibility that others will play god with it, so whenever a spell is cast something is done to the caster. Small scratches to deep wounds based on the gravity of the spell. The key is that the good magicians have learned glitches to even that, and that is what Reyn studied most. Without him I would not be nearly as good as I am today. Sadly, a lot of trial and error was involved in Reyn’s studies, a deep scar ran from his cheek, down his throat and ended at his collar bone.
It suited him though, and he enjoyed the attention it got him. He was a story teller when it him to how he responded. People often asked me if he was my father, I never hesitated to say yes if we were at the playground or out to eat. To be honest I liked to tell stories too. They were always much better than reality.
It was fun to pretend I was a normal kid.
Now looking back I’m not sure if I would have wanted to be normal. Reyn said once when I was looked at the other kids playing tag, “There is nothing wrong with it you know? But, there is something abnormally beautiful about being like that,” he sat besides me in the grass,” The sad thing is the two world don’t coexist well. It’s hard to play tag when you know everything from the sky to the earth is a piece of clay in your hands. But, you can still play tag and play with magic.”
My father felt a little differently, but never would let his feelings hold me back. I had a few friends as a kid, when my dad was at business meetings Reyn would let them come over.
I was in third grade when I met my best friend Adalwin Ollen and he is still my friend today where ever he is, he moved when I was sixteen, but I have is phone number and every once in a while I call late in the night to leave voice mails to him. He always mails them back.
Around the time Dal left I noticed another change. We were always poorer than poor. We grew our own fruits and vegetable and during the winter off of scrap of money Reyn made at his job, he was the only one who worked. Reyn was a piano teacher oddly enough, at a music store up he block. He taught the piano to play.
But, around that time I noticed more things around the house. Cereal, cakes, a few pre-made meals. The things in life I new existed but never saw in our fridge or pantry. Next we had a flat screen, instead of the little black and white television Reyn swiped off someone’s curb.
I am yet to be sure for whom, but my father was working for someone. Someone with finances. Someone crazy enough to fund my father’s never ending research. Anyone that crazy is dangerous to a studying magician or alchemist.
Reyn whispered to me when dad wasn’t home, “Maevey can I tell you something?”
“Sure. . .”
“I don’t want you to ever take money for your experiments. For magic okay? It’s not good.”
“Wasn’t planning on it.”
His face went cold. He stopped and stared at me with his foamy green eyes. “I’m not kidding Maeve.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond so I nodded and sat on the porch to watch the rain. Now I understand he was talking about dad. Dad was getting money from someone or group to sponsor his work, it went against all the core values of dabbling in magic. Sadly we weren’t the kind of children to bring this up to him, our connection to our fathers was hardly emotional, he was a teacher, but in no way a father. As more money poured even in the form of appliances and odd foods, the lessons our father would teach on his findings every week grew less and less until we simply shared the house with him.
By this time I was past caring about my family, I had moved into the adult mind set. I even looked at colleges from time to time. Something inside me wanted to try to balance magic and normal life, so badly it did. Reyn encouraged it, it only angered my father, who had ceased to teach my brother and I at all, simply dismissed it saying that he was on the verge of a break through. Reyn pretended to be happy, but he felt just like I did. Since out father had stopped his lessons, the thrill of life a Coghlan had faded.
“Pan! We need to talk, tonight,” I heard Reyn say one night after I had gone to my room. A spell he showed me amplified my hearing so I could hear them both talking loud and clear. I focused hard.
“Reynard, you address me as father. If you don’t Maeve will start calling me that too,” my father admonished him.
“Father? Father!” Reyn chuckled,” You have not been anything remotely like a father to Maeve or me in the last year. I need answers, what are you doing?! Never in my twenty-eight years have I seen you act as you have lately and it’s scary.”
He pondered his words and mused, “I’m not sure yet, aren’t you happy. I found a way to get money for us and that’s all you need to know for now. For your safety.”
“Dad! This isn’t fair!”
“Why? Your lives are practically the same—“
“No! You don’t get it. Believe it or not I want to leave. And so will Maeve soon. Dad I should have my own family! But, I can’t leave because if I do who will Maeve have?”
He was silent. His grey hair curled around his face in loops.
“That’s right, no one but an old man obsessed with something he won’t even tell his own children about. And guess what, we also deserve to know so much more about who we are. Do we have cousins? Family?,” Reyn paused, I could tell he was contemplating his choice of words,” A mother?”
Pan was mad now.
“Dad, I’ve taken all this for years; that time is over! If you won’t help us I will, I put Maeve in public high school for next year so she can stop with the “home school” nonsense. So she can go to college, so she can learn to balance life with magic unlike you. You’ve let it consume you!”
I could feel they were staring each other down. I though they were going to fight and not like normal people with sticks and bullets. But the silence resonated in the thick air.
My father set his head in his hands and mumbled, “You know so little.”
Reyn stormed off letting the tar of night engulf his twig like body. I pretended the door woke me up and I put my acting to use as I stumbled dazed from my room, rubbing my eyes like a child.
I opened them to see my father crying and shaking his head.
“Dad?” I squeaked.
“Maeve, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” He sobbed, “I never meant to get into this.”
I rushed over and hugged him.
I stammered, “Dad, it’s okay.”
There was so much I wanted to ask him, but I wasn’t angry anymore. It sparked a determination in me, it was not my father who locked himself in his room for hours, it was something else, someone else. Someone else who I could hate, who I could fight.
Until we met, I occupied myself with some new trials, trying to find out who my mother was and going to high school.
High school was actually quite simple, compared to magic. People tended to keep a distance from me though. It was my junior year, but it felt as if it were my first day of kindergarden. Other students tapped my sholders with their eyes constantly. Luckily at the end of the year I finish first in my class. I made a friend.
Andel Jurne, he was a little off too. We were friends, but not like me and Dal are friends. It was a circumstantial friendship, except something a little more. I’m honestly not sure what to call our relationship, it was brief. Ending with his disappearance before I could put my finger on what we were. That was June, that summer was when it all began to fall apart. I could feel the threads of my life un-folding, but nothing I could do would hold them together.
Reyn had taken on the role as my father and brother by this time. It was an accepted fact that my father was somewhere else. He usually left his room at least twice a day for necessities. June 20th he didn’t. And the 21st. The 22nd. The 23rd. He would never walk out of the room.
© Copyright 2016 EmerWick. All rights reserved.
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