Who Needs Magic Online - Kathy McCullough

chapter one

It’s taking all my willpower not to point my Popsicle stick Theo’s way and recharge his phone battery so he can keep playing his war-on-the-high-seas game. But I’m forbidden from using magic in front of Theo. Dad and Gina don’t want to tell him about the whole f.g. thing until the time is right.

Like there’s ever going to be a right time for Dad to tell his girlfriend’s ten-year-old son, “Hey, I’m a fairy godmother.” I really think they should let me tell Theo that I’m a fairy godmother first, because at least I’m female.

I did manage to grant one wish for Theo without using magic. I insisted that Dad and Gina let us have Popsicles to tide us over until Dad finishes scraping off the layers of burnt hamburger, hot dog, ribs, steak and whatever other mystery meats have built up on the park grill from holiday barbecues gone by. Not that I got a “Thanks, Delaney” or anything. Theo went right back to waging his electronic naval war with one hand while devouring the Popsicle he clutched in the other.

Now the Popsicle’s gone, the phone battery is dead and any second the whining will—

“I’m bored.”

Ah, there it is.

“Why don’t you and Delaney play tag?” Dad proposes. Theo and I, who have nothing in common, since I’m five years older and a girl, experience a moment of complete synchronicity as we both stare at Dad in disbelief.

“They’re a little old for tag, Hank.” Gina shoos another fly away from the side dishes she’s set out on the corners of the picnic table to hold the tablecloth down.

“Not to mention, I’m wearing a skirt,” I point out. “And boots.”

“It was just a suggestion.”

What’s next? Patty-cake? “I’m taking a walk,” I say.

“We’re eating soon, honey,” Dad warns.

“I’ll be back in time,” I promise. As long as I make it back this century, I’ll still have returned before he’s gotten the first hamburger on the grill.

I cross the grass to one of the intersecting walkways that loop through and around the park, linking the soccer field, the baseball diamond and the playground. In between are tiny tree-shaded pastures and lots and lots of picnic tables and grills, all of which are filled with families and packs of friends celebrating the Fourth of July.

Now that I’m free to use my magic, I subtly aim my Popsicle stick to stop paper napkins from blowing away, repair leaky balloons and send Frisbees back on their intended paths. I usually carry a chopstick with me, but a Popsicle stick makes an equally effective wand.

I’m ready to move beyond these little point-and-shoot wishes, though—the bit of Object Transference here, the dash of Atom Manipulation there. I want to experience the big f.g. magic—the powers I earned by granting my first big wish. But I can’t access those powers until I find my next client.

It’s been three months, which seems a pathetically long time. Not that I have a lot of fairy godmothers to compare myself to. The only other one I know of is Dad, and he got his second client in like two weeks back when he started out. Whenever I ask him why it’s taking me so long, he gives me a lecture about “Trusting the Process” or “Cultivating Forbearance” or some other chapter title from the latest “Dr. Hank’s Self-Help for the Hopeless” book he’s writing (so that non-clients can also benefit from his wisdom). To prevent myself from choking him to death, thereby eliminating the one parent I have left, I’ve “cultivated” the “process” of not bringing it up anymore.

I can’t believe I’m supposed to just sit around and wait, though. That means big wishes are going ungranted and my full powers are going untested. It’s not like I can randomly pick somebody. The small wishes I can do for anybody. They’re just guesses. But the big wish is a meant-to-be thing. In the sense that I’m meant to be that person’s f.g. and meant to grant their major, love-finding, life-changing, happily-ever-after wish. It’s an emotional connection that only happens with one person at a time, and it’s why you feel their wish as strongly as they do.

I know from watching Dad that it takes more than wielding a wand to make a client’s big wish come true, and that magic, even if it is major pumpkin-into-coach, rags-into-ball-gown magic, is only a tool. The powers go beyond that, but if I don’t get more practice at it, I’m never going to know just