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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Vargas

A Leap of Faith: My Journey with Magic

Let us begin with a memory.

An electric current surged through each and every fiber of my being. The sky was so blue it stung my eyes. I adjusted my black umbrella in one hand as I gripped my brother's sweaty palm with the other. The umbrella is going to make us fly. I focused on the sticky pavement to distract myself.

“It's so far down,” I whispered.

“It isn’t actually that far, the umbrella will catch on the breeze and we will be safe, like Mary Poppins,” Alex proclaimed.

“So it's magic?”

“Yes, it's magic.”

My brother thinks we won’t get hurt because of math. He counted 54 paces from the fence to the garage door. About 35 feet from the ground to the roof of the garage. He checked the weather and measured the entire roof of the garage. I don’t like math, so I thought he was lying. I looked up into his serious eyes and he nodded slowly, so sure the mission would be a success simply because he willed it so.

My heart pounded so fast I couldn't breathe. I believed a little harder, just in case the math was wrong. I closed my eyes and we pushed off the edge of the roof. For a single second, I felt something inside of me, bubbling over my soul and enveloping me. It was my magic and it shone against all the darkness that had ever stained my skin.

In the next second the magic faded. I was just falling off my roof.

Leslie and her brother Alex near their childhood roof.

Nothing stopped my quest for magic — not even the scars on my knees from trying to fly like Peter and Wendy. My brother insisted he forgot to factor in our collective weight during his experiment. He was positive a garbage bag would give us better results. We jumped again with a Glad bag strapped to our backs like a ghetto parachute. I wasn’t feeling the magic anymore, so I stopped jumping. After copious amounts of research, I came to the conclusion that magic does not originate in my world. I had an epiphany and raced to my bedroom to discover the secrets I felt were hidden from me.

I took a shuddering breath and turned the rusty knob of my closet door. It opened with a loud screech. I flinched. I knew if I believed hard enough, everything would be revealed to me. A quest would give me purpose and save me from this endless waiting room of existence. I walked into my closet and made sure to brush up against a few ratty t-shirts like I saw in Narnia. I tried so hard to find branches or feel the cold bite of winter against my cheeks. I could almost feel the heat of a burning hearth and laughter in the air. I heard the clash of swords and could see myself becoming more than I was, more than a little girl in a closet wishing to be powerful.

Everything around me blurred together. I saw monsters between the shadows and the t-shirts became demons that attacked, clawing against my skin. Silent screams escaped from me without permission. I was no longer brave. I was weak and undeserving. Magic did not come to simple, unremarkable people. It came to people who were not afraid of the dark. A light flickered above my head as the tears began to flow freely.

“How many times have I told you to stop playing in the closet?” Mami chastised.

I thought I could discover magic. I thought I could be a hero. In truth, the monsters came as close as possible before laughing at me. They never wanted to hurt me — it was a test. They wanted to see if I could stop feeling afraid. Name one person who ever could.

The next thing I knew I was being shaken awake. Instead of monsters, I was met with worried eyes that spoke of nightmares. Their laughter didn’t stop ringing in my ears.

“You were screaming in your sleep. Calling my name over and over,” Mami said.

“I promise to only have happy dreams,” I responded.

“Do not make promises you cannot keep.”

For a while, I stopped searching for magic and gave in to the cycles of everyday life. Magic died the day I decided it wasn’t worth believing in. Faith is supposed to test you, yet I gave up on magic at the first bump in the road. I saw the world and decided it was too evil to be redeemed. So I let magic wither and die inside of me.

Leslie and Alex

I noticed a lot of people thought God was magic, so I tried to believe in Him for a while. But there were too many rules and different versions to understand. It became harder to see the wonder. I didn’t understand why we had to pay to believe in God. I wanted an explanation, but nothing made sense and I was scared of what I didn’t understand. The existence of magic was still the only logical explanation for the world around me. Other people called it God, but saying “magic” implied an aura of childishness. God used magic, yet people who believe in God don’t believe in magic.

I wanted a purpose, a prophecy that could tell me why I was put on this earth, an adventure with twists and turns that would leave my head spinning. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. Something magical. However, since then I've learned magic never really works the way I want it to. What I failed to realize as a child was that books and movies are not real life. When a character dies in my story it's going to burn, ache, and scar because it is real. Pain and sadness come with life just as much as adventure and exploration. I can’t go to Narnia because it does not exist. That doesn’t stop a small part of me that will always believe it does.

I will never lose that sense of wonder that pushes me off roofs and shoves me into closets. That faith makes me a better person. That belief pushes the limits of my creativity. I am an adult that believes in magic. It is a privilege, not a right to be who I am. Some people only catch momentary glimpses of their true selves in the mirror. Others do not need a distorted reflection to know who they are.

My magic has changed from a fairytale to something I can hold onto. Happiness and love have magical qualities that make the human experience worth savoring. I see magic in the trees I touch on my way to work, in the sound of all my loved ones laughing in unison, in the wake of a first kiss, and the aftermath of a terrible storm. I let my spirit sit on the sidelines until I decided it was worth loving again. Letting my spirit go would’ve meant letting go of the person I am today.

Edited by: Ava Emilione

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