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Miss Clementine Kidd's Guide to Slow Magic

wishes & weeds

By Kira DeSomma Published 2 years ago 10 min read

The postmaster peered over his crinkled newspaper at me as I stood in his doorway, hand firmly on my satchel. He sighed thickly, his illustrious black mustache swaying with the breath, and looked back down at his paper. The headline on the front page read in large black lettering: CRIME! Which had me wondering who, exactly, was doing this sort of vague shoddy reporting work, and why he was so utterly transfixed on the paper. Maybe he hadn’t seen me, my dramatic silhouette cast in his doorway. I cleared my throat in a way I hoped was dainty and not pushy.

“I’m here to drop off some packages,” I said.

“I would suspect that. This is the post office, after all,” he said, with his voice -- just as illustrious as the moustache -- absolutely booming. Still he made no move to get up to help me. He pulled the newspaper up a bit, in fact.

“They’re letters,” I said in a friendly way. “They’re going to the mainland.”

“Hmm. Last weekly boat for the mainland left yesterday,” he said.

“Oh, I know,” I said, smiling, pressing, “I’m in no rush. They get there when they get there. I know you do your very best. It’s hard with the post these days.” I looked at the wall, not really looking for anything in particular. “Do you have any new stamp designs?” I asked at last.

“Not since the last time you were in, Miss Clementine,” he sighed, finally putting the newspaper down. I stepped forward, but instead of extending his hand to take the letters he reached for a mug of sluggish black coffee. The mug read I LIKE MY FRIEND! In bright, somewhat threatening red letters. I wondered what kind of friend the postmaster had. Maybe they knew the vague reporter. The thought made me chuckle.

I’d had my suspicions about the kind of magic that the postmaster had for a while. Bag of Beans Island, the ancient island that held our beloved Garbanzo village, had less than a thousand residents, and we all knew each other’s gossip. I had a theory that each person on the island had a little slow magic in their veins. It wasn’t a theory I shared with many people, but I was determined to find what defined each person’s unique perspective on the world. As my grandmother used to say,

Everyone has a story to tell. But no one -- no one else! -- can tell your story.

And then she’d run a faded pink comb through her faded pink hair and smile at her reflection. She was always smiling at her reflection: in puddles, in windows, in rear view mirrors (when she probably should have been watching the road)...


“Oh. Are you ready?” I asked the postmaster.

“Ready and waiting,” he sighed.

I beamed at him and slid my fourteen letters across the counter to him.

“You need customs forms if these are going to the mainland,” he drawled.

“All filled out!” I said, reaching back into my satchel and taking out the fourteen little slips. “I just love paperwork,” I added with a smile. “It’s like a test, you know, like a test from when we were kids, but luckily I know all the answers! So I guess it would be an open-notebook test. Those were always my favorites, because I take pretty good notes.”

“Hmm.” He put the first letter on the scale and typed on his computer -- a dusty old modem and keyboard that pronounced CLACK with each key he pressed. The clacking sounded decidedly grim and precise, I thought, not unlike the postman himself. “What’s in these packages?” he asked.

I hesitated.

“Anything liquid, fragile, hazardous, or perishable?” he asked. He raised a thick eyebrow and looked at me. His brown eyes were surprisingly soft.

“Oh! No,” I said quickly, hoping he wouldn’t look too closely at what I had written for the contents. I glanced down at his newspaper. CRIME! Glared back at me in inch-high black letters.

My hopes were in vain as his eyes narrowed on the customs declaration on the form.

“‘Gifts’?” he asked. I couldn’t tell if he was suspicious or just bored.

“Yes, well,” I said, “Paper goods, I guess.”

He was a man who could appreciate vagueness. He should accept this answer, I reasoned. His mouth thinned under the glorious mustache and then he nodded and shrugged. He typed something into his computer and I breathed out in relief. When he finally finished all the letters, my receipt looked long enough to wrap an Egyptian mummy with room to spare. Perhaps that was his magic, I thought to myself. Perhaps he was a mummy. It would explain his stiff, almost rigid movements as he painstakingly typed the figures into the computer. Then again, that could just be carpal tunnel.

“Thank you. Have a good day!” I said. I made a move to snatch the receipt out of his hand, and my fingers brushed his for a small moment. He pulled back as if I’d shocked him. I looked at him in surprise, thinking of my grandmother and her reflections: I did not recognize the postmaster, but something in me saw something in him that was the same. Something in him that was the same magic as mine. His brown eyes widened and we looked at each other for a long moment, neither of us sure of what to say.

Finally, politeness and propriety won out. I said, “I’m sorry. I don’t think I know your name, actually.”

“Oh. It’s Mason.”

Mason. A flagship of a name if I ever heard one. I nodded.

“I’m Clementine.” I offered.

“I know. You’re here every week.” Was that the twinkle of the world’s smallest smile in the corner of his eye?

“Sorry,” I said sheepishly.

“You don’t have to be sorry. I always wanted to ask, though -- your necklace. What does it mean?”

I blinked at him. Strangers asked all the time about the little locket. I never opened it for them. It felt like a secret, one that shouldn’t be shared easily. I always told them it was an inside joke. It kind of was, and it also kind of wasn’t. I wasn’t ready to open it for him, not really.

“It’s a tribute to my grandmother’s magic,” I said quietly.

“Ah. Slow magic, I’m guessing.”

“Yes.” My voice is threadbare. “Yes, it was slow magic. Reflections -- literal and the more… figurative.”

“Ah. I see. And does it run in the family…? Sorry, I’m being nosy.” There’s no mistaking his smile now.

“My magic is also slow, but I’m not a reflection specialist,” I said, returning his grin and sidestepping his hidden question. “How about you? Besides stamping parcels, what do you do?”

He looked away, and for a moment I was worried I’d offended him somehow. But no, he was simply making a choice. “I’ll show you,” he said at last. “Meet me at sunset at the big open meadow, past the stoplight.”

There was no mistaking the field he meant -- there was only one stoplight in Garbanzo. Still, the field was an open eyesore. It was just weeds.

“Alright,” I said. “Should I bring anything?”

He laughed. It was a low, easy rumble: “Honestly, Miss Clementine, I never met anyone so determined to help. Are you always so unbearably polite?”

“No,” I said. “Sometimes I am downright bearable. In small doses, of course.”

He laughed again and I took my leave, waving exaggeratedly through the dusty window before riding away on my mint-green bicycle. I flew all the way back to the workshop and spent the rest of the day in a tizzy. Sunset couldn’t come fast enough, and when it finally came time to head over to the Marlowe meadow I raced there in double time.

I almost didn’t recognize him in jeans. I hopped off my bike and kicked up the stand, grinning at him.

“You came,” he said.

“You sound surprised. You shouldn’t be. I also brought sandwiches -- that, however, you are allowed to be surprised about.”

“Sandwiches?” His eyebrows went up.

“Yes. I wasn’t sure what kind you’d like so I went with the Garbanzo Island classic -- hummus and fresh tomato with sprouts.”

“Hmm. That is a classic.”

He tapped his fingers against his jeans anxiously as I unloaded my bike basket -- the sandwiches, wrapped in wax paper and each sealed with a floral sticker; the two honey crisp apples I’d picked in the orchard, and two sticky cinnamon buns, in a paper box with ribbon.

“Miss Clementine, you shouldn’t have,” he said with a grin.

“You are always so patient with me at the post office,” I said sheepishly as we walked down the hill to the middle of the meadow. “I know it’s probably a pain to enter all that data into the computer. The office is probably so stuffy on days like this, too…”

“It’s not stuffy out here, though,” he said, grinning widely and sitting down on a mound of weeds.

I laughed. “That’s true. Quite the opposite of stuffy out here, I would say.”

He drummed his fingers against his thigh again, as if thinking. I sat down next to him and waited. I saw that if I was ever going to learn anything about Mason -- anything true, and lasting -- it was going to take some patience. That was okay by me, though. It was called slow magic for a reason.

“My magic is about dandelions,” he said.


“It’s about the wishes people make on dandelions,” he said. “I can hear them.”

I blinked rapidly. In all my years of schooling, I’d never heard of such a wondrous small magic.

“All of them?” I asked.

“Yes. In the springtime it gets quite loud, you know. Lots of dandelions, lots of wishes to be made. And it’s funny, because oftentimes people don’t even realize they are wishing, or what they are wishing for… They stomp on a flower they assume is on its way out, and their heart’s desire gets carried away in the wind.”

“What sorts of things do you hear?” I asked.

“Oh, all sorts of things,” he sighed. “People wish for all sorts of silly things.”


“Money. Fame. Glory. Bigger house. Better job. Faster car. More, more, more.”

“Oh.” I said softly.

“And then,” he breathed, picking up a reed and rolling it between his fingers, “Every once in a while, you get a wish for something unusual. Something delightful. A wish from someone who never lost their childlike wonder. A wish to help others. A selfless wish.”

“Such as…” I led him on, feeling my throat close with some nameless emotion as he turned to me. But he smiled.

“Someone wished to find magic on this island, in this village. She wished that the magic, wherever she found it, would feel a little less lonely, once it was found. She didn’t know, of course, that the magic was looking for her right back -- reflected back.”

“Ah. I see.” I cleared my throat. “And did… did this wisher… did she find what she was looking for?”

“I don’t know.” he said solemnly, tilting his head. “Did she?”

I bit my lip to keep from smiling too widely.

“She did,” I said quietly. “Would you like a sandwich?”

“Yes, please.”

“Here you go.”

“Thank you, Miss Clementine.”

“Thank you, Mason.”

“You are very welcome, Miss Clementine.”

Short Story

About the Creator

Kira DeSomma

Author. Artist. Earl Grey Enthusiast // She/her // Joypunk and/or hopecore

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