Issue 94 Mar 2021
Dad must be in a great mood tonight.
I can tell because his signature stench of rancid whiskey breath isn't flowing down the hallway as strong as it usually does most evenings. Instead, I can hear the sounds of some old, 60s war flick blaring from the living room where I can assume he's slumped in his recliner, sucking down what I hope is only bottle number one or two and nothing more. Even then, that's fine, as long as he's found a better way to spend his time than hurling inebriated verbal attacks at me until I feel so torn my only instinct is to take the razor blades under my pillow and carve in more scars for what feels like the umpteenth time this month. I've lost count since yesterday, when he told me I was an accident best left buried way beyond underground where even the worms can't crawl on me.
At last, today’s the day I’ll learn about magic!
I straighten my jerkin with its runaway button now sewn back on. My father looks me over from head down to newly-shod toes, and his gaze lingers there a moment as if admiring his handiwork in the hand-burnished leather. “Now be very respectful and do everything your master says. He didn’t have to apprentice you, mind. You’ll have to earn his favor.”
“Yes, I know.” I feel like I’m made of squirrels about to jump apart and scamper in different directions. The alchemist chose me as his apprentice! And why shouldn’t he, since he has no family to take up his trade? Our little town needs only so many shoemakers like my father. For once, being the youngest of four brothers means I get first pick of what I want. And I want magic—to send miracle-making sparks out of my fingertips and harness the energy of the heavens. Assuming that’s how it works—but I’ll find out today.