She always loved watching magicians on the television. It made life more interesting thinking about how different the world would be if everyone had magical powers. Her imagination would run wild with the possibilities. Then finally, her mother bought her a cheap magic kit for her Birthday. Nothing special. Just some some of wand, cards, and a few things she had no idea what were for exactly.
It was weeks before it happened. She was alone for a moment. Mom was outside gardening, as she played with her magic kit. She knew how to rhyme anything. Kids were quite jealous at school, watching her compose long stories with ten times their vocabulary. Something about language enticed her as a child. Having spent much of her life, shy and in thoughts, she essentially became so bored talking internally to herself, her vocabulary needed to be brushed up upon. It was almost as if it was not a choice. Isolation pushed reading and philosophical thoughts, causing her to need more and more words for expression. It came naturally, like a spring off a mountain. Nothing else in the world really did.
And then it finally happened. With a perfectly rhymed magical chant she changed a card from a two to an Ace. At first, she thought she was crazy. Perhaps delusional or hallucinating. But she laid all the cards out to discover the two she original had was missing and there was now an extra ace. Still thinking she might be crazy, she yelled to her mom as she came inside.
“Mom! Can you tell me if you see an extra ace in this deck and no two? I think this deck may be messed up.”
“It appears that way to me too. That’s odd. Well, I have to make lunch sweetie, I’ll be in the kitchen if you need anything.”
She tries to act normal as her mother turns away. She shuts the door a bit more, chants a similar chant and looks again. The card didn’t change this time. It’s frustrating but she knows something is perhaps different about this magic set or her or the world. It’s all overwhelming at first, but becomes like a great mystery she has to solve. She imagines being like Harriet the Spy, and becomes overjoyed with the endeavor. She spends the night secretly playing with the magic kit, while everyone else sleeps soundly in their ignorance, unknowing the great discovery she just unveiled.
School the next day was awful. No sleep and her mind was constantly focused upon getting back to the magic kit. With obsessive compulsive thoughts, her mind continued to indulge in what most thought was the imaginary. She could sense others would not understand this discovery, causing her to isolate even more than in previous situations.
Do you think they notice I am acting differently? She thought.
She was already quite eccentric so I guess she could blame it on even more of a transcendence into individuality. Kind of makes sense. Minds that think differently, tend to think differently about isolation than most. Tend to think of it as necessary, rather than sad.
As she opened the door, she couldn’t contain her enthusiasm that the magic kit was only ten feet away now. After an hour, it happens again. The card change. With each hour passing by, she keeps proving her own lack of insanity. She leaves for dinner, does some homework afterwards, and then is secretly back to the kit.
The years go by, she slowly sets the kit down more and more. The real world lures her in once again, and she loses interest in magic. She starts becoming fearful of the forces behind the changes, questioning their motives, and then eventually questioning her own sanity as well. But once again, she always lays out the deck and it is never right. She sees the extra cards and missing cards but cannot make sense out of it.
Is this all I can do? Change some cards with my mind or something? This is all? What the heck am I going to use this for?
The air smelled different. Even the clouds seemed to roll in differently. She thought to herself, what the heck am I doing here? Perhaps I have ventured out too far from the nest. She imagined slowly turning back, getting back onto the plane, and back to her childhood room. She imagined lying her head upon her mother’s chest as she cried, but then the thought repulsed her. She realized there was absolutely nothing for her there. No opportunities worth fighting for. It was a depressing, but at the same time, uplifting fact.
She wasn’t like the others. Her eyes always paid attention to her surroundings. So internally exciting by all the activity, all the faces, all the lights, and all the accents. Sometimes she would go home and practice accents, attempting to pull them off in public, and realizing someone either fell for it or might have thought she needed a 5150 (mental institution). Either way, it slowly didn’t bother her what people thought. Most of the time her brain was honestly so intrigued by the behaviors of other people, she felt like an outsider, with a non-narcissistic personality disorder unlike the rest of society. She thought to herself often I sometimes wish I had a cabin, could eat beans and rice, and be left alone to write. But it seemed like the world swarmed around her, even when she barely came out into the light, either intrigued or misunderstanding her.
Settling into seeing palm trees rather than pine trees was quite the experience for her as well. Still is. But she managed to find the redwoods, which made her feel like she was Alice Wonderland as she walked through them. She always had a way of finding a balance. To her, if something made her sad, there was something else to counteract it. Always an answer with enough research and persistence.
She spent most of her undergraduate working heavily as a server, staying up late with homework, and a pot of coffee. Lack of sleep induced psychosis happened eventually and she was forced to put the books down. She often thought, I wish there were forty eight hours in a day. Can the earth’s rotation change right now, please? It always felt like there were not enough hours in a day and coffee.
At times, even in the big city, it felt lonely. She wondered if Neil Gaiman ever felt this way? Margaret Atwood, perhaps? I think so. She’d convince herself to keep researching and writing. Keep finding inspiration as well and trying to give it back in appreciation.
The struggle was real. Like when a farmer asks you if you’d like a chicken, walks over, and cuts it’s head off, real. With no family support system nearby, working as a server, and trying to compete with those who might have had a bit more support, she felt sort of silenced at times. Money equals powers but let’s be honest, some people shouldn’t have money because they are honestly irresponsible with it. She often thought, they’re so dumb, they couldn’t even hire a decent financial adviser? Then internally laugh, trying not to look externally crazy having deep thoughts like this at the laundromat. Until one day another quirky, eccentric, character like herself walked in to the laundromat. It was as if it was going to take a couple more run intos on Sunday evening (the weirdo avoiding time) for them to talk. But finally, she spoke:
“Uh. You dropped your underwear. Sorry I noticed.”
She looks down embarrassingly. “No. Uh. Thanks for noticing. It would have been more embarrassing if anyone else came in here.”
“No problem, girl.”
“My name’s Olivia. What’s yours?”
“Jackie. They call me jackles the crazy but I just act crazy. Please don’t tell them.” And she laughs hysterically.
It was at this point in time, Olivia knew it was like all the forces in the universe, like all the particles in the air, conjoined to form a planetary like friendship bond no other binomial nomenclature could possibly come close to. But then again, anything is possible. Olivia never rules out anything in life.
When the laundry finished, there was an awkward moment of energetic silence between them. It was as they both wanted to run to the nearest thing to do together after having suffered through so many failed attempts at friendship. But they both couldn’t even muster up the courage to do so.
Routine had them both sort of locked in this cycle of video games, studying, coffee, laundry, and work. Being hermit crabs, no longer truly caring about direct human interactions as much. Slowly adapting to a technologically advanced world where the definition of what is meaningful human interaction is ever changing. Olivia felt there was no longer a need for physically being in the moment with someone, but rather intellectually being there. She often thought of trying to answer the question: why is the internet so connected, yet so disconnected in ways? Then coming to the realization the internet poses a challenge in a way. Truthfully, there is nothing but you and an image. The image could be accurate or inaccurate, intentional or unintentional, and rooted in truth or deception. One thing was for sure, she could read between the lines, and so could Jackie. They both has a thirst to venture into the unseen, read the unread, and maintain a kind of realism the world no longer seemed to relate to. Separated by buildings and walls, sidewalks and miles, they still both managed to exist on the same wavelength.
Eventually it was Sunday evening again and of course they both arrived within minutes of each other. This time Olivia made sure she didn’t drop her underwear. She smiled.
“How’s it going Jackie?” Olivia asks.
“Okay. You know. The lady next door is blasting her Christian rock music super loud all the time and apparently I am crazy. Ha ha. Perhaps, they think my video games are real guns though. I fooled someone before and ended up with cops at the door.”She laughs nervously.
“Sounds like you need to invest in a headset, girl.”
“I know, right? I didn’t realize I was such a good actress at playing crazy I became this celebrity to the gossiping grapevine community.” Jackie said.
“Sounds like you need to move. Ha ha. You are a good actress Jackie. Are you sure though? Is it all acting?”
“You know. I don’t know. What is really sanity? Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results but what if you do the same thing over and over and expect the same results?” She laughs.
“Jackie, we ask too many silly questions sometimes and perhaps overthink.” Olivia chuckles as well.
“But it’s fun sometimes! And when you find someone else who does it too it can be extremely interesting.”
“True. Jackie you always have a good defense, ha ha. I guess we both do.”
“You have to have a good defense nowadays. Some people are like hawks on roadkill when it comes to interactions with people like us. We are often misunderstood and don’t want to waste our time on trying to redeem ourselves to judgmental people.”
“Okay, okay. I haven’t had my coffee yet for this. Do you want to get coffee after this? I mean we both have to stop home, but afterwards. Unless you’re doing something…”
“Doing something? I guess I could break my isolated routine for a day. Ha ha. We
probably both need to.” Jackie says with a silly grin.
“Once again, a valid point my dear. As always.”
They exchange numbers finally. They both subtlety hurry off with secretive giddiness like schoolchildren, ready to play at the park for the first time. In opposite apartments they did the same mirrored behaviors. Both rushing in a highly functioning manner. Both looking cleaned up in a short amount of time, as if they practiced for so long, for the moment someday they might find a real friend or lover. Someone worth being around. Someone else whose eyes have not yet lost their color and light.
Olivia grabs her shoes, all excited. Composed of all the energy of a titan until she runs into the somewhat nosy neighbor. She knows this will become a draining experience within two minutes but she feels guilty if she doesn’t endure it. The woman has no human interaction for day and is definitely a people person.
“What are you up to today? You look nice.” She says as if trying to be
“Oh. Just a Birthday party for a friend.” Olivia says feeling guilty
“That should be nice. I hope you have a good time.”
“Thanks. Hope you have a nice day.” Olivia says quickly and nervously as
she is trying to calmly move away from the conversation.
She never understood what her neighbor does all day besides occasionally blast Christian rock music. No television is ever on, and no noise is really made. It is as if she doesn’t move all day. The thought concerned her really. Perhaps it is depression? She thought. She felt badly for lying to her and not inviting her but Olivia had waited so long for a real friend and didn’t want her to be scared off. She knows how skiddish she can be herself, and since Jackie seemed similar, she knew it could be risky. She was tired of taking a risk every time in her life for other people. But being selfish felt bad at first.
They met at Jackie’s favorite coffee shop. She drives miles to get there just for a Colombian coffee. Olivia finds this internally insane. She attempts to explain Jackie can buy Colombian coffee at the grocery tore, but Jackie swears it is nothing like the one she is currently drinking. She moves on from trying to save her money, suspecting Jackie might be not concerned with money at the moment. Realistically Olivia knows she doesn’t know her background yet, for all she knows Jackie could be a trust fund kid or one step away from living in the gutter with her Colombian coffee. Either way, Olivia is a bit concerned she might blow through her money buying dumb things, end up like the rest of us poverty stricken fools. Olivia had seen even the wealthiest of people fall because of bad behaviors. Anything is possible.
“So what’s the plan today?” Jackie asks.
“I don’t ever make plans anymore. Avoids the disappointments.”
“True. But how could anything we do together end up in disappointment? Haha! We seem to entertain ourselves pretty well alone. Let alone around people
who are one in the same.” Jackie says with great enthusiasm.
“You’re right.” Olivia admits.
“Let’s go drive around until we find something! I know it sounds weird but I
have GPS so it’ll work out.”
Jackie had this reassuring nature Olivia needed at the moment. She needed someone who wasn’t afraid of life. Wasn’t afraid to get in the car and get lost once in awhile with the right person. She felt sort of honored to be in her presence. As if she was a kinda of magical blissful fairy, showering her with fairy dust, trying to make her have fun. Deep down Olivia was stressed about money though. Based upon Jackie’s car she started thinking Jackie did not have the same problems as she did. Perhaps, she couldn’t relate to her struggles, but for some odd reason they clicked on the same wavelength regardless. They drove around until Olivia found a water park & adventure center. Of course, the billboard stood out and even though it was quite a drive, Jackie didn’t seem to care about the gas money involved. When Olivia tried to pull out cash at the gas station, she refused it.
“I just want a real friend Olivia. If you do me wrong in the end, it will
suck for you, not me! Ha ha!” Jackie said in a jokingly but serious
“Oh I know! I am not used to this treatment, my dear! I feel guilty even
accepting it. Please take something from me.”
“No. I don’t need it right now in my life. If I do in the future, I’ll
know you will have my back, my dear.” She said with the sweetest
“Thank you. It has been so long since I went anywhere like this place. In
fact, I don’t think I have ever been to a place quite like this in my
whole life.” Olivia said excitingly.
“I can tell. You are hiding your giddiness.”
While Olivia used the restroom for a moment, Jackie went to the ticket booth and bought both tickets to everything in the park. Even with the speedy “cut in line” access. Olivia was quite moved by this gesture, tears swelled up in her eyes, almost pouring down her cheeks but she held them back, back into her eyes out of embarrassment.
“Don’t you worry, my friend. Don’t feel bad. Let’s go have fun now. Let’s
enjoy everything we can right now.” Jackie said while she rubbed her
shoulder as if she was a child.
“Thank you Jackie. You don’t know what it means to me.”
“Oh I know, my dear. I’ve waited for a friend like you for too long.”
They spend their day in inner-tubes like children. Flying down water slides at high speeds. Fitting in with children but not caring about the judgments of others. Having so much fun, nothing else mattered to them. Then onto the ziplines. They bought hats like Indiana Jones had laughing at they flew done the lines side by side, as they flew off. Not caring about materialistic loss. Just happy in the moment with each other. It was the first time in a long time, they were both genuinely happy around another human being. They both knew these moments would never be forgotten and could not wait to go on another adventure.
“I truthfully don’t want to offend anyone, but I don’t believe in angels Olivia. I think that man was just a second chance giving kind of person. A rarity in this world. Few can forgive, let alone give someone an opportunity out of it. ”
“True. I guess I didn’t think of it that way. I think of things in a symbolic way. I suppose I could have said he was like an angel.” Olivia explains.
“True. He was like an angel to us. He could have called the police. Who knows what could have happened?! They could have taken you away. Poke you with a bunch of needles. You do realize Olivia, what you have is desirable by those with power or money? You do realize what your ability could do in the wrong hands? Especially now?” Jackie asks with concern.
“I never thought of it that way until now truthfully. It was fun Jackie but I do realize it’s going to come with some not so fun parts. Like dealing with power tripping people.” Olivia admits.
“We have to look out for trouble. Me even knowing about this puts me in danger really.”
“Sorry I involved you in this. I had no one…” 0livia pleads.
“Stop! I’m happy you came to me. Although it comes with risk, you and I actually have a chance to make a difference now. We have a yet to be created purpose. Before this, I was just going through the motions in life. Olivia, this is pretty freaking awesome! Think about it! You’re like some kind of superhero.” Jackie says with the upmost enthusiasm, while raising her arms halfway to her sides like she always does when childlike excited about something.
“Thanks for being the coolest friend I’ve ever had.”
“No problem. You see I think we both can adapt to this situation quite well.” Jackie admits.
“Agreed. I can’t have my own back either all the time.”
“I think we need a night to recover. No more gambling for awhile, haha. Perhaps we should just sit around tonight and find out what you can do.” Jackie chuckles.
“Agreed. I’m exhausted. This whole night has been overwhelming.”
They drive back to Jackie’s apartment, grab some Ben n Jerry’s, a movie, and a new deck of cards. They contemplate possible future moral dilemmas and discuss ways to help others. The specific people they plan to help and the forgotten. They make plans to conquer the pain they see in the eyes of others.
“Stephen works in the morning hours. I know he won’t directly take the money though. He isn’t that kind of person. We’d have to figure out how to pay his rent. Maybe we could just leave an envelope in his mailbox with a letter.” Jackie suggests.
“Good idea. Then he has to accept the money. Or give it away. Either way, we tried and something good will come out of it.”
“Indeed. We’ll be fulfilling what the unknown man at the casino said to do. God, I wish I caught his name. Maybe we could have sent him the money instead. Haha!” Jackie jokes.
“I don’t think he needs it as bad as Stephen. So it worked out.”
“True. He would have wanted it this way.”
They write a letter explaining to Stephen why he was chosen as the first recipient. Assuring him the money has no way of coming back to haunt him if he accepts it. Jackie knows him all too well. An anxiety ridden internal mess waiting to implode from financial ruin. She knows he’s desperate but at the same time, knows he might be such a decent human being he could potentially bring the money to the police.
“We really have to write this letter perfectly Olivia. Or we could be at risk. We don’t want anything traced back to us. The guy at the casino let us go, so it could be his issue as well. It isn’t just about protecting ourselves.”
“I am honestly always worried about anyone finding out about him. If anything were to effect him I’d feel terrible. You definitely have a point.”
They spend the evening polishing the letter. Making sure it sounds reassuring, genuine, and will convince Stephen there are good people in the world left.
“I think it’s perfect Olivia.”
“Did I? You did most of the work, silly! You have a gift for words, that’s for sure!” Jackie chuckles out.
“Alright let’s read it out loud. That’s the real test. Dear Stephen, we are your secret admirers. Not in a crush way of course but we cannot help but notice no matter what, you always seem to smile through everything. We’ve seen people treat you like dirt at work and admidst it all you still tried to be kind. We’ve heard your children didn’t get much for Christmas last year because of financial issues, despite your hard work. You’re underpaid, underappreciated, and inherently not narcissistic like most of the world. The world chews people like you up, even before breakfast. In your sleep, in the palms of your sweaty hands when you wake, and your fast paced heart throughout the day. We both know you internally struggle. Let us ease that, even if it’s just for a month. We have enclosed enough money to pay your rent. Don’t worry for now. I know that is difficult for you, but just try. Our intentions are well, we just want to ease your struggles. See a smile that is for you, not for anyone else. Sincerely, your admirers.”
“I think it’s just fabulous Olivia! I think he may cry! Let’s drop it off while it is dark. I really don’t want him to see us or he’ll sneak the money back somehow to one of us.”
“Exactly. Let’s go.”
“Stephen’s apartment is on Broad Street. I can check the mailboxes find his apartment number. You just keep a look out for anyone.”
“Will do. Better you than me, I am a clutz. I’d probably get caught.” Olivia admits.
Stephen’s apartment sat on a corner, of course it wasn’t the greatest complex. Neither was the neighborhood. Kid’s toys almost lying in the street from parents who didn’t pick them up. Perhaps, let alone supervise their children.
The mailboxes were mostly broken so it was easy to find his. Nothing looked like it was maintained for over a decade. Both doors almost fell off the frame when Jackie went in.
“It’s not very nice in there Olivia. He shouldn’t even pay rent until it’s fixed up really, really that bad.”
“Geez maybe we should have left a tenant’s rights booklet.”
“I think the money will be helpful for now. We could help him again, you know?” Jackie suggests.
“Indeed. He’ll definitely need more help in the future.”
“We have to find another casino and do it right this time. Go in with a plan, know the layout, scout it out beforehand, and really watch our own butts! We may not get lucky again if we’re caught.”
“Exactly. I was thinking about the same thing. I feel guilty in a way, but we are helping other people who need it and taking from a greedy casino. So is what we’re doing still morally wrong?”
“Don’t think of such things so much Olivia. It will tear up your insides like they’re being put through a meat grinder. Let’s just focus on doing good in our own community, then move onto bigger things. Hopefully no one will question us, until we have done so much, we’ll be like some kind of vigilantes in a good way.” Jackie says with childlike enthusiasm.
“I agree. It’s not like I can just sit there and do nothing, knowing what I can do now either.”
“Let’s figure out a game plan tonight, don’t rush it too much where it is stupid though. Let’s hope we can devise a good plan by the end of tonight with some more Ben and Jerry’s, Netflix running in the background, and the occasional off topic conversation I bring up. Haha!” Jackie exclaimed.
“I can get along with that idea!”
“So who do we help next? I kind of picked Stephen. You should decide the next person. We can at least discuss that before we get to the store.”
“What about Urma? I mean she’s behind in her taxes, what if we just go pay them for her? Is there a way? What if I said I was a relative from out of state, just trying to take care of my families finances that went haywire? Believable, right?”
“I mean you look quite young for trying to clean up your families mess, but we can think up your occupation, and I am sure they won’t even get that far to ask that question. Geez Olivia, you worry too much sometimes. It is best to be prepared for the worst, but at the same time you can’t always combat bad things from happening. Bad things do happen to good planners. You ever plan a trip out precisely and every little detail you planned seems to go the opposite way as planned. Your coffee lid falls off, your car breaks down, your tire pops, the parking is full, the event was cancelled, and your friend never showed up, right? Do you fret or not? Or do you think well this is just crap and try to make the most out of the crap? Jackie asks in a joking, but at the same time serious matter. The thing that make her different from the others.
“I am guessing I have to say make the most out of crap, because what choice is there really? Wallow in it? Haha. No thanks!” Olivia admits.
“Anyways, we were originally talking about Urma. We should probably get back onto that subject. We’ll just say you are a pharmacist if they ask, if that makes you feel better having an in depth plan. I’ll find out where we need to pay her taxes beforehand, make some phone calls. But know this; I get it Olivia. You are the one with the powers, so if anyone gets caught it will most definitely be you. I don’t blame you for at times, breaking mentally down in a way and being human. I truthfully would be ecstatic to have my powers as well as scared.”
They talk on and off topic all night. Finding all the casinos statewide, the best to devise and plan for and the least. It was ambitious. It was not going to take just one night of planning either, which they both realized. There had to be trust built as well between them. The kind where one would take a bullet for the other without hesitation. They were serious at times and joked to ease the stress of planning. They were the perfect team: honest, loyal, and strong for each other when they needed it. A friendship one could hope for their whole life and never have the chance to obtain.