Sunday, 18 December 2016

An Item of Significance

  As Clark stared outside the window, the woman behind the desk continued to punch numbers into the keyboard with relentless efficiency. He could hear the unforgiving clicks of the peripheral, its cold, plastic frame resisting her fingers as she continued to key in his information.
  He sighed. He really would have preferred to be at home right now, but his mother had given him two choices: obtain his bank card, or lose his computer privileges- so really, she had given him no choice at all. With her nagging following him, he'd left the house before she could say the words that would actually bind him and his blasted conscience, grumbling his way to the nearest bank outlet. 
  What felt like years later he was still standing there, thinking about all the (relatively) important things he could have been doing instead. The videos he could be watching, the games he could be playing, the things he could be drawing… certainly activities infinitely more significant and meaningful than this dull process of endless waiting for something he didn't even care about!
  The woman didn't seem to notice the boredom that painted his face. Perhaps she was purposefully ignoring it, or she would have increased the pace she was working at. "Alright that's the account transfer complete," she said in a robotic, melodic voice. "Just type in a 6 digit number of your choice in the keypad over there, and I'll have your card ready in another few minutes." 
  He grunted in what he hoped was an appreciative manner, which was difficult considering all the seething that boiled under his skin. He didn't even think about the six numbers, slamming in a random code he'd probably remember later, maybe. He just wanted to be home right then, and anything that sped the process was more than welcome.
  The woman didn't even flinch at his aggressive speed that denoted his lack of consideration. She simply smiled, nodded, and continued her work. He went back to staring outside the window once more, truly beginning to comprehend the phrase, 'bored out of one's skull.' An eternity later, she materialised behind the desk (had she left? He hadn't even noticed) and handed him a shiny yellow card plastered with numbers and logos. 
  "Here's your debit card, sir, thank you for your patience. We hope you enjoy this free service by Your Friendly Local Bank! A friendly reminder; please do not misplace or damage the card, as a police report will have to be made. Furthermore, the creation of the next card will be charged on your account. Thank you, and have a nice day!" Stifling a sigh of relief, he swiped the card from her fingers and stalked out the glass doors with no delay. The feeling of freedom and productivity was almost palpable: he was finally free of this irritating, unwelcome responsibility! 
  He stuffed the card into his pocket thoughtlessly, whistling as he walked down the pavement back home. The cars on the road seemed a little brighter, the day felt slightly cheerier, and the people looked marginally friendlier. He wondered which game he should play when he reached home. There was an RPG he'd bought ages ago gathering dust on his shelf, but he'd recently been addicted to a platformer that continually challenged him… 
  Out of nowhere, a man in a sequined vest jumped at him, brandishing a straight, black and white stick in artistic swirls and twirls. "Ho there!" the man shouted. He accompanied his greeting with a deep bow, removing the ridiculous top hat from his head and placing it across his chest as he did so. Clark's first reaction was to recoil in shock, but the emotion soon faded into excitement when he realised who it was: a Magic Man!
  "Greetings, mortal," the man said as he straightened himself. His hat was replaced on his head with a garish amount of flourish. "I am Calumnia Machiniato, virtuoso of the four winds and prodigy of the transformative arts! Today is your lucky day; for today, I have chosen to favour you with my mastery of the metaphysical!"
  Clark laughed and clapped his hands together. Magic Men always gave such superfluous introductions, but there were far fewer as the years went on, and he'd always been fascinated by them and their magical abilities.
  The excitement seemed to please Calumnia, as he smiled and spread his arms. "You seem ecstatic mortal, and you should be! I have powers other practitioners only dream of, and I feel generous enough to show a few today! What would you like to see first? My repertoire is expansive..."
  Clark pointed at the ridiculous hat on the Calumnia's head. "Make a rabbit!" he said with an almost childlike disposition. Without hesitation, the Magic Man pulled his hat off his head and reached within. After a short struggle, he hauled a snow white rabbit out by the ears.
  Clark shouted in glee. The Magic Man smiled and replaced the rabbit on his head, covering it with the hat. "Child's play, mortal. What would you like to see next?"
  "Make some cloth!"
  Calumnia obliged. He reached into his sleeve and pulled out unnatural amounts of colourful cloth, tossing it carelessly to the side whilst smiling all the while. Clark was thrilled; he picked the cloth off the pavement and rubbed it into his palms, checking if it was real. "You don't see to be able to give me a challenge mortal. It appears that I must show you something beyond your imagination. Tell me, do you have a fifty dollar bill?"
  Nodding excitedly, Clark, whipped out a week's worth of his lunch money without hesitation. He pressed the scrunched up bill into the man's hand and stepped back, awaiting the grand spectacle. Calumnia smiled mysteriously, and raised the bill high into the air between his two fingers. "You have given me something incredible mortal, for within all things there is life, to varying degrees. With the gift I have been given, I can see this bill has an especial quality of significance, and so I will restore the life that it has. Behold!"
  Calumnia raised his other hand and slapped the bill into his palm, squashing it and making a loud clap that jerked Clark into jumping. Calumnia closed his eyes in intense concentration and waved his arms about his head in a ridiculous manner, mumbling strange words under his breath all the while. As he did so, Clark swore that the Magic Man's hands began to glow. The world around seemed to bristle with energy, and goosebumps ran up and down Clark's skin as Calumnia continued his chanting and waving.
  With a final shout and a swift movement, the Magic Man threw his hands behind his head, and threw them forward again, splitting them apart and releasing...
  A butterfly!
  The butterfly was not normal however, the pattern on its wings were exactly those of a fifty dollar bill! It flew around Calumnia's head for a while, before resting on Clark's shoulder. Awed and slightly scared, he stiffened, trying to get a closer look at the now-living money without moving his head.
  "That, is my ultimate power, mortal. Giving life, to the lifeless," Calumnia whispered dramatically. The butterfly left Clark's shoulders to rest on Calumnia's own. "I know you have been impressed by my unparalleled power, so I leave you with this."
  Calumnia tossed a shiny coin toward Clark, who snatched it out of the air and looked at it. Calumnia's own face was printed on it. "A keepsake, to remind you of the power that exists within me, and within this world. Tell your associates, and I can be there."
  Clark nodded and Calumnia marched past him, his sequined vest glimmering in the sunlight that left colourful imprints on Clark's eyes. Shaking his head to clear his mind, Clark once more set off for home without looking back once. If he had, he might have caught Calumnia stuffing a fifty dollar bill down his pocket.

  Back at home, Clark changed and dumped all his dirty laundry into the collective basket, rushing up the stairs to his room. He pulled out an unused photo frame from his drawers and pulled out the back. Carefully, he removed the insignia coin from his pocket and taped it on, replacing it within the photo frame and setting it on his table. He smiled happily; that had been the best Magic Man he had ever seen, and it was definitely the highlight of his day.
  He turned on his computer, logging into his social media accounts and bragging about the great experience that he'd had to all his friends, all the while shooting glances at the coin that reminded him of the significance of that day.
  It was of great surprise and displeasure to him when his mom stormed into his room an hour a later, a wet and now-useless debit card clutched in her fingers.

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