• Meg Gaertner

Bear Maiden and the Boy Magician (2/10)

Chapter One

On the outskirts of The Village, beyond the flower shop and the bakery and the school, but before the deep woods that bordered the town, there was a Tower. Tall and stately, The Tower was made of smooth, grey stone. It had one small window at the very top, and one sturdy, wooden door at the bottom. The door was always locked. Only one person could open it, and only one person had seen inside. This one person was Boy Magician, and the long, spiraling staircase inside The Tower led to a single room at the very top, which was his home. Boy Magician had not always lived in The Tower. He used to live with the rest of the villagers. At that time, The Tower was simply an overlooked part of the landscape. It had been there since before anyone could remember, and any questions about who built it and for what purpose were lost to time, familiarity, and unconcern.

Boy Magician’s time in The Village was not a pleasant one. You see, Boy Magician was a very special boy. He had a poet’s soul and a sensitive heart and magic running through his veins. That he was different from the adults and other children in The Village was painfully obvious to him. At first he tried to fit in with the other children and their games, but found his differences too strong to surmount. Boy Magician had a strange sweetness of spirit and delicacy of nature at clear odds with the rough and tumble world of the other young boys. He spoke in poetic, charming, passionate verse that made others uncomfortable, so accustomed were they to muted tones and empty, shallow words. And he had magic.

Visually, he saw his difference in the unbroken heart on his sleeve and in the gleam of his sparkling river-green eyes and long sunset hair. Knowing that he did not fit in, Boy Magician wore his difference like armor, with crystallized edges so sharp they could cut. As he grew older, he turned his focus more and more inward. Though living in The Village made interaction unavoidable, his quietness, self-imposed isolation, and uncanny appearance meant that others preferred to forget about him. In time, Boy Magician became another familiar and unnoticed part of the landscape, much like The Tower.

Boy Magician could not understand The Village and its people. He could not comprehend the pressures for young boys to be rough and aggressive. He could not stand to see the easy, inviting smiles and whole-body laughter of children turn into learned habits to be used by adults, whose precisely upturned mouths could not quite hide the insincerity and emptiness in their eyes. He could not fathom the broken-heartedness of so many people. And he could not bear the awkward silence and lack of care that followed whenever he spoke his thoughts or shared his truths with others. So he decided to hide himself away in a tower where he could watch The Village but not be part of it.

It was raining when first he approached The Tower. Responding to the magic in his blood and in his bones, The Tower opened its door for him. As he walked through the entrance, the wooden door closed and locked itself behind him with a final thud. Boy Magician made his way in silence to the top of The Tower, with its single bed, single table, and single chair. Turning in a slow circle to take in his new home, the patter of rainfall the only reminder of an outside world, he noticed a single decoration on the smooth wall—a mirror framed in unpretentious, sullen bronze. He leaned closer and wiped off years of dust with his sleeve. Peering at the image contained within, he jumped back in shock at what he saw.

There was his face, the fierce definition of his proud features, the brightness of his cool moss eyes, and the light in his flame-colored hair…and underneath it all, a river of pale silver-blue shot through with gold, dancing under his skin. His magic…

With sudden fury at this mark of his difference, of his never having belonged, Boy Magician brought his will and concentration single-mindedly against his magic, pushing it deep inside himself and deeper still. Gasping at his effort, he opened his eyes and laughed shakily in relief to see a normal face reflected back at him in the mirror. Overcome with exhaustion, he paid no notice to the piece of his heart that broke off, shattered, and disappeared. In the years following, Boy Magician kept his magic shut deep away. Assured that it was gone, he enjoyed his chosen solitude. While need for food and supplies guaranteed his return to The Village on occasion, he always travelled cloaked to avoid recognition and always made hasty retreat back to his home.

Though he hated to visit there, he often turned his gaze to The Village from his vantage point in The Tower. He watched the children play and laugh, the florist blink her big, wide vacant eyes against the sunlight, the baker laugh merrily at the young ones crowded around his stall, and the teacher frown sternly at her distracted pupils. Seeing the villagers down below, Boy Magician felt a pang in the heart on his sleeve. It took him several months of staring out his window to recognize what he felt. He was desperately lonely in his Tower on the edge of The Village, even lonelier than when he had lived within it. But Boy Magician would not go back to a place that made him feel so different. He shut down the longing he felt for company, and began to despise the villagers for their smiles and their laughter, for making him feel so different and set apart. He became contemptuous of the fake lives they led.

Still, he could not help but desire an end to his loneliness. Though he would not admit it to himself, in his observations of town life Boy Magician secretly hoped to find a worthy companion, someone with whom he could share himself, someone who would not make him feel different. One day, he found her. At the far edge of The Village, walking along its bordering wall of ivy-covered stone and peering over into the deep woods beyond, there was a girl. In the days and nights that followed, Boy Magician saw that there was something different about the girl from the other children. She, like him, watched a lot, and was a little bit apart.


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