Magnolia's Maagic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

One piece of magic leads to another.

Magnolia's Magic Booksie_large.jpg


The television presenter, Freddie Mackintosh, had never encountered anyone remotely like the elderly lady seated opposite him at a table.

“Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. I have the pleasure to introduce you to Magnolia Marz, who has written many articles about seeing into the future.” Turning to Magnolia, he continued, “Good evening, Magnolia, welcome to the programme. How long have you been interested or absorbed in the world of horoscopes, tarot cards, crystal ball, palmistry?”


Magnolia, who was not all at ease, but had gone to the programme after meeting Freddie Mackintosh at an open air charity event. His evident popularity had attracted her to go near him to see, or try to understand, what it was that made him so attractive to the general public. She had invited him to a drink in one of the tents that covered the muddy field. Freddie had managed to free himself with the excuse that he needed to use the portaloo. Magnolia was determined to get to the root of his success, and the only way she knew how, was to give him a tarot reading or take a look at his palm.

“Mr Mackintosh, may I invite you to a drink and a snack?”

“Yes, thank you. I’d like that.”

“My name is Magnolia Marz, and I’m a fortune teller, and I’d like to tell you your fortune, if you don’t have any objection.”

Freddie stared at her in amazement. He had always had a superstitious side to him, which he kept secret. Many years before, a seaside fortune teller had said he’d be rich and famous - and he was. So what could Magnolia possibly tell him? Well, he’d give it a try, to see what she had to say. “I’d love to hear what you have to tell me, so please go right ahead,” Freddie said, getting excited.

Magnolia ordered two teas, and cake, and a glass of water. When they had partaken of the tea and cake, Magnolia said to him, “Take a sip from the glass of water. Not too much.”

Freddie did as she said, and took a sip of water from the glass. He replaced the glass on the table and stared at Magnolia, who made a gesture for him to remain silent. The only sounds inside the refreshment tent were those of the rain and the wind, and coming from outside the general sound of the other customers’ conversations, muffled rather than strident, as if they guessed what was happening at the table between Magnolia and Freddie.

“You’re going to appear in a pantomime at Christmas and it will be a great success. Due to the fact that you have a face and figure that is similar to a fairytale figure, you remind me of Friar Tuck from ‘Robin Hood’. At that, Freddie sat back to show he was astonished, was to say little - he was flabbergasted.

“Magnolia, I’m not an actor or a singer. I can’t imagine why I should be given a part in a pantomime.”

“You haven’t listened to what I’ve just said to you. The fact that you’re not very tall and your chubby face, are the reasons you will be chosen, as well as the fact that you’re a celebrity. It isn’t necessary for you to be an actor, the part will be easy for you. After all, no one would expect you to appear in a Shakespeare play. This pantomime will help you to enter into another area of the entertainment business.”

“Thank you very much, Magnolia.” Freddie said, making an attempt to stand up.

“Please sit down. I haven’t finished yet. There is another man in the vision who is an actor, and he will also be in the pantomime. He has been a frequent guest on your programme, but apart from sporadic appearances on such shows as yours, he’s been out of decent work for quite some time. Just as the pantomime will be a success for you, so will it be for this man. You will be the instrument for getting him this job, and his return to films and the theatre, albeit not in the same way as he was before.”

Freddie said, “What does this man look like?”

“I can only tell you that he’s the exact opposite of you, physically. Freddie, you may leave me now. I’m getting a bit tired.”

“Thank you, Magnolia, and I’ll let you know about the pantomime.”

“Here’s my professional card, and please don’t reveal anything about me. If you recommend me to someone, just say what is written on the card. OK?”

“OK. I’ll be seeing you.”

Freddie left the refreshment tent and made his way through the watery mud to his car, which he had prudently left on the main road away from the field.


Now, he was sitting in the studio at the table where his guests always sat, so that he could see them without having to turn his head. He hadn’t had it easy in persuading Magnolia to show herself in public. She felt naked, and ill-prepared for her image being sent out to anonymous millions. Magnolia told Freddie that she would go to his programme just the once, and no more. Freddie accepted, but knew that he would try again to get her on it.


“Good evening. Tonight we have with us Magnolia, who is a magic lady and does her best to help people with her art.”

After introducing Magnolia and the typical pleasantries, Freddie asked a more relevant question.

“Magnolia, how long have you been interested in the art of divination, that is; palm reading, tarot, etc?”

“It’s something that is there, or not, in one’s world, and it’s always been in mine.”

“Thank you, Magnolia, for that piece of information. Perhaps the general public feel that you can say more, but if you can’t or won’t, I’m not going to press you. By the way is, Magnolia your real name? It’s very nice.”

“Yes, my real name is Magnolia, it was a favourite of my mother. She gave all of us flowery names. thinking they had special values, rather naturally magic.”

“Thank you, Magnolia. I must say it really suits you,” Freddie said with a warm smile on his face.


Outside the interview studio, Freddie said to Magnolia, “Thanks for coming. I had a reason for getting you to appear in public, and that was because I realized who the actor was that you were talking about when we met in the tent. I asked the producer of the pantomime if there was a part for Auberon, and the producer rang him, and asked if he would be interested in performing in a pantomime. After all, many famous actors have been appearing in pantomimes over the years, and it’s a way to keep in the public eye.”

“What was his reaction?” Magnolia asked.

“He was silent for a moment, and then said he’d enjoy doing it. I had the feeling that he didn’t want to show that he was desperate for something to do, other than tending his garden.”

“Did he ask why he had been chosen to be in the pantomime?”

“No, and I didn’t say anything about you and your magic. Well, I don’t know what you did, but soon after we parted company outside the tent, I understood what I would have to do for my old friend. So, when the part was offered to me, I responded correctly. Isn’t that what you meant?”


Auberon Hilton, who was an old friend of Freddie’s, had once been considered a bright young talent in the theatre. Unfortunately, he had fallen by the wayside, like so many other ambitious young people. The producer’s invitation to work in the pantomime had come at a low point in his life - when he had no wife, no partner, and no work. Auberon’s children were old enough not to need him, and he had long ago given up on a long term relationship. He couldn’t even remember making a decision about it. He was intrigued by Freddie’s call telling him that he would be in the pantomime too, and then heard who the rest of the cast would be. Auberon didn’t want anyone in the theatre world to see what a miserable state he was in, and the offer had made him cheer up. Auberon promised himself not to drink or do anything to jeopardize the pantomime or his friendship with Freddie. For the first time in a long while, he felt that the tide might be turning in his favour.


Magnolia read the news about the pantomime in the tabloids. It was then, when she saw the photograph of Freddie and Auberon, that she recognized Auberon Hilton, one of her favourite actors when she was young. She had shrugged off her appearance on television, and she was happy to read about how well the rehearsals were going. Magnolia had a varied clientele with one thing in common, they were all worried about their futures, or if they had a future. There had been times when she didn’t reveal everything she saw, and hoped and prayed that some things wouldn’t come true. Bad news is an uninvited guest that turns up when you’re ill-prepared for it. Magnolia wanted to impart good news and happiness to her clients. Her appearance on television was of no importance to her, and she was happy to read that the pantomime was getting on well.


Freddie knew that he wasn’t an actor and got Auberon to be his mentor, and continually asked him for advice. If this persistent pestering from Freddie annoyed Auberon, the latter never displayed anything but good kindness towards the presenter. The pantomime was ‘Robin Hood and his Merrie Men’, and the season was from 5th December to the 16th January. Freddie was to play the part of Friar Tuck, wearing a padded body under the costume. Auberon was the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Robin was played by Kelly Rowan, who was a well-known singer and soap actress.

During the days that ran up to the opening of the pantomime, Freddie was tempted to ring Magnolia, but he desisted. He knew she was busy and also he wanted to save his next meeting with her for something serious.


Magnolia was not in the habit of following up her clients’ lives. She preferred them to go to her and get her to see things for them.


The children loved the silly jokes, and the funny words being sung to popular songs. And the parents enjoyed the double entendres designed to amuse them. There was slapstick comedy and dancing. One of the most important parts of the pantomime was audience participation, that always went down very well. There was topical humour based on famous stars or even politicians. It was a show that was on for seven days a week, with a matinee on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

Auberon used to have a nap in his dressing-room on the days there were two shows. He kept to his promise that he had made to himself not to drink, although at times he did feel rather tempted. He lay down on the sofa in his dressing-room, covered himself with a soft, light blanket and immediately fell asleep.


One day he asked Freddie, “Freddie, what made you think of me in the part as Sheriff of Nottingham? I hadn’t worked for years, and had got to the point when appearing on stage was a thing of the past.”

“I can’t really say, but your face and name came into my head when I was asked to be in the pantomime. I asked the producer if there was a part for you. Do you have any regrets, or would you rather have done something else?”

“What ‘else’ are you talking about? There hasn’t been anything ‘else’ for a long time, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to get through Christmas in such a happy way.”

“Auberon, is your life so difficult?” Freddie asked.

“Yes, at times it is very lonely, and more so since my mother died. And the house is so big, and the only company I have are the ghosts of my parents. I don’t know where I went wrong, but I’d like to know how not to repeat the same mistakes. I’m too old to be able to afford making the same errors as I did in my youth.”

On hearing these words Freddie then made up his mind to introduce Auberon to Magnolia, as a client.


Christmas time and the New Year were always a busy time for Magnolia, because her clients wanted to know what the New Year would bring them. Those who were starting up a new relationship and weren’t really sure of the man or woman they had just met, were anxious to know if it would last or disappear on the 2nd January when everything would be back to normal.


The pantomime was a sell out, a huge success. On 31st December, even though it was early evening when the show had finished, members of the theatre staff took round plates of hot mince pies and a drink to members of the audience, and there were balloons to take home. Freddie and the rest of the cast, went round shaking hands with the parents, and giving out sweets to the children.

Freddie went home to his family for the New Year’s Eve party, while the producer, Billy Butler, and most of the cast, including Auberon, went to a party in an hotel famous for its exclusiveness. Auberon wasn’t keen on going, but attending was more in the line of public relations than anything else. That night, as the New Year dawned, Auberon made a promise to get on with life and do his best to stay away from trouble. He had phoned his children a few hours before, only to discover that they had gone abroad to warmer climes, so he felt free to do nothing, or to party the night away, which he would have done when younger, but the idea in itself left him with a sour taste in his mouth.


After the Christmas season was over and nearly forgotten, and the pantomime too, one day Freddie rang Auberon.  “Would you like to appear on my programme?”

Auberon, who was back in the large house alone, said, “Thanks very much, it’ll be good for me as it means I have to behave myself: no drinking, no bad language, and dressing correctly. Do me good. Thanks.”

Freddie then rang Magnolia, “Hello, and, Magnolia, how would you like to be on my programme?”

“No, thanks Freddie. I have no wish to be a celebrity.”

“Oh, all right then. When can I see you - professionally speaking?”

Magnolia said, “The first of February. I’m rather busy till then.”

“That’s fine. Is it OK with you if I bring a friend?”

Magnolia guessed Freddie was up to something. “Yes, it is. ‘Bye, Freddie.”

Magnolia had never seen Freddie’s programme and therefore didn’t see Auberon on television.


Freddie usually had three guests at a time on his programme. The idea was, that they should interact with each other by joining in what the person had said. The first guest was Auberon, who had been very funny and sociable in the past. Freddie had seen some of that side of Auberon during the run of the pantomime. The other two guests were: the chef Norman Innes, and Luna Moore a fashion model. Freddie asked each of them, “What’s your favourite food?”

Norman said, “Stuffed mushrooms.”

Luna said, “Food is not my big thing.”

Auberon said, “Anything I haven’t cooked.”

Freddie saw that the evening was going to be a disaster, so he then asked them about themselves. Luna never stopped talking till the commercial break. Then Norman spoke about his restaurant, which was nothing more than a pitch for everyone who was watching to know about it. Auberon said very little, not wanting to reveal anything about his personal life. None of the three was worried, as they knew that the cheque for appearing was already in the post.


The first of February dawned, and in the evening, Freddie and Auberon went to visit Magnolia. Auberon was still in ignorance about Magnolia’s existence. Magnolia lived in a small house in a nice residential area. ‘So far, so good’, Freddie thought to himself. Magnolia opened the door at their ring. She was dressed in a white fluffy sweater and black trousers. Her thick brown curly hair was tied back, and ornate earrings hung from her ears. The two men followed her inside, and the most delicious smell of cooking met their noses. The house, as far as they could see, was decorated in rich reds, purples, and gold. On a shelf in the hall were some stuffed owls. Auberon accidentally touched one as he removed his coat, and said, “Is that thing real?”

“It was once, but now it’s dead,” Magnolia replied. “Please, come into the kitchen, it’s cosier in there, After we’ve eaten, I’ll give you a reading.”

They stepped into the kitchen and sat down at the table, where they were served a vegetable and meat pie, with baked apples to follow. Auberon longed for a glass of wine but had to make do with fruit juice and coffee. Freddie was surprised by the food and drink. While they were still at the table Magnolia scryed a glass of water for Freddie. The outcome was predictable for him, he would continue being successful, until a new head of television arrived.

Auberon stared in amazement at Magnolia. She was much older than him, but her air of agelessness was magical in his eyes. He felt as if he had always known her. She turned to him and asked, “What shall I see in your glass?”

Auberon said without any preamble, “Me moving in here with you. It’s all so fascinating and magical, and I feel you will look after me.”

“We’ll look after each other,” Magnolia added.


Freddie was sworn to secrecy about Auberon and Magnolia.

Auberon went to the programme only to plug a new film or play.

Magnolia never saw the inside of a television studio again.


Submitted: July 20, 2014

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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