Just Like Magic

I was only four when I figured out I could do it. It was the time I set my dolls' house on fire. It wasn't even a biting commentary on the gender roles enforced on girl children at a young age – although, looking back, I like to think that it was – no, I just thought it would be more interesting if my cheap knock-off Barbies had to escape from a burning building to add variety to the plot line of their lives. So I set it on fire.

It wasn't exactly an accident, but I was four, so give me a break. Truth be told, it wasn't so much that the event made me understand what I could do so much as I learned that other people couldn't do it. My parents smothered the fire with a blanket before any real harm was done. It was when they were checking every inch of the room for matches that I got confused.

"I just made the fire," I tried to explain.

"Yes, sweetie, but how?" I still remember the frantic note in my mother's voice, lurking just behind the condescension people employ when talking to young children. "Did you use matches? Where are the matches now?"

"Didn't use matches," I said.

My parents ultimately gave it up as a mystery, my father muttering that it was "just like magic". Of course, they were too scientifically-minded to ascribe to any idea as ridiculous as magic, or spontaneous combustion, so they let it go (and kept a close eye around me in the presence of matches for the rest of my childhood).

I couldn't have explained it to them even if they had been willing to believe. I didn't know it was magic either. But I read a lot as a kid, and by the time I was eight, I'd more or less got it figured out. Well, not how it worked; just what it was. It was magic. Real, honest-to-goodness magic. I'd practise in the garden, when I was sure my parents weren't around to freak out about it, drawing energy out of the power lines to freeze the grass, create little invisible traps for rabbits, and even lift out sections of the flowerbed and swap them around, like a puzzle. This last task was the hardest, and I often ended up covered in soil and forced to replant flowers by hand if my concentration slipped for even a second.

So I guess that was how it started. One dolls' house flambé and a childhood spent stuffing around with magic in the garden. Which brings me to the present: Kate Cooper, full-time librarian, and part-time wizard. It means thinking up a lot of creative illnesses to get off work every time the city is invaded by dragons, or zombies, or evil dark wizards with maniacal laughter and bad taste in facial hair. You'd be surprised how often it happens.

And I definitely no longer set things on fire. Well, not often, anyway.


A/N: Written for Fiction Land's Challenge #01: Beginnings. The word limit was 500 words.