Once, there was a group of friends that held a workshop twice a week. Then, one day, they became much more. No one knew how, but all of a sudden, they were able to produce magic. One of them could spit fire, which, when you think about it, is not at all pleasant, although it did keep them warm in times of need, and there were many of those.
For instance, one of the friends could open portals, but exclusively to other continents. They visited deserts, oceans, volcanoes ─ those kinds of fun places.
This other time, they got stuck ─ their traveling friend fainted from using too much magic ─ so another friend had to fly them out. The problem was she could only carry one person at a time.
Their trip back was similar to one of those brain teasers where a fisherman can only take either the wolf, or the cabbage, or the sheep alone, onto the other side of the river, and make sure to transport them all in the right order, as if that could really prevent the wolf from eating the sheep. Actually, the wolf would probably just eat them all.
But, this was different. It took way longer and contained fewer animals. Perhaps they wouldn’t have been so hungry if they had at least some. That is when Anek lost the lower half of his leg going through the portal, because the traveling friend had woken up to find that only the two of them remained, so they thought ‘eh, what the heck’. However, Oogor was too tired and half-juiced. The portal didn’t stay open long enough for both of them to go through. Of course, Anek forgave him, but everyone knew Oogor had never forgiven himself. Everything would have been fine if Anek could have grown another limb, but he couldn’t. At least not yet. The only thing that came out was a weirdly shaped bone ─ thick and strong. So he covered it with cow skin.
Then there was Mokana. The special one. And she… oh, she was special alright. Not because she had an amazing power ─ all she could do was move objects with her mind when there are no other people in a two-kilomentre radius. What made her special was her ability to annoy the hell out of everyone else. Everyone except Oogor. But then again, he liked her.
She had a phase when the only thing she would say to people ─ if she found that their words, nay, their existence, differed from her own ─ was a stern and loud ‘wrong’. On one occasion, Lit went up in flames. Literally. So Oogor gave himself the task of calming things down by going from person to person saying: “I actually think you are correct”, “You know, it’s one of those days…”, and “Who cares what she says, you do you.” That did not help much, other than making Mokana switch from ‘wrong’ to ‘no’.
They were sitting in a small room. Lit spat some fire into a barrel to keep them warm, and to give them light since all the electricity was gone now. Oogor consumed it all for the portals. It didn’t help that they hadn’t paid the bills in over three months. There’s no money in doing magic tricks all day. Kanar’s weird mohawk was slumped to the side, and bobbing all around. His arms were shaking, making the papers in his hands rustle.
“I can’t. It has to be done. This is crazy!”
“Please, Kanar. Calm down…” said Lit, her voice harsh.
“All you people do all fucking day is magic! I have a job, and I have to finish school. I also lead this god-forsaken workshop. This cannot go on. I feel like shit.”
“Okay. Alright. It’s fine. Look, man, we’ll stop. Deal?” Anek nodded towards others.
They gave him a blank look. Famona sneezed and flew a little.
“I am the only one… Okay? The only fucking one.” Kanar’s face turned bright red. He didn’t swear often.
“Well… Actually…” Oogor began.
“Don’t.” Lit’s voice sounded even more threatening, all coarse and raspy.
“It’s not fair. He’s our friend. Look at him!” Famona almost cried. She loved Kanar ─ he made her laugh and levitate. She often pictured them having sex. In the air.
“On, come on. You just wanna f─” Lit started.
“Don’t you pity me.” It wasn’t loud, but it was determined. Kanar got up, holding his papers so firmly they’d crumpled and mushed together.
They stared at him. It could have been because they were frightened, but also because Lit threw a lil’ somethin’ into the fire-can. Almost all of them were hungover, so the herb helped relieve the headache; she also did it for Famona, since her gaseous state often caused nose troubles for others.
“Why don’t you just write yourself in?” asked Mokana, the only sane one, as it seemed.
“That’s not how the story works. It cannot be changed now. But, if I destroy it, no one will have powers, and we can all just go back to living our old lives.”
“Like anyone wants that…” said Oogor.
“How about writing another one?” asked Mokana again.
“It won’t work!” Kanar wanted to yell. But it was like his voice was unable to produce a sound louder that a gruff whisper.
“Of, for crying out loud, just fucking tell him!” Famona cried, then adjusted herself in a more comfortable position on a large pillow she had been sharing with Lit.
“Come.” Oogor pointed towards a pillow in the middle of the room, inviting Kanar to join.
He reluctantly sat down.
“You wrote the story, right?” Oogor said, nodding. “And, afterwards… right?”
Silence filled the room. If you had been there for some reason, you could have only heard Lit chewing some charcoal. “It’s good for the teeth,” she’d say. Someone could have mistaken that for the sound of Kanar’s mind trying to figure out this conundrum, but you are lucky you have me.
“Oh, my…” Kanar whispered. “It was me, wasn’t it?” He almost shed a tear. But he composed himself, took the practically torn papares and carefully sorted them.
“I created magic.” Kanar proclaimed, standing up.
“Well…” Lit began.
“I mean…” Mokana followed.
“Kind of…” Famona added.
“It was about damn time.” Anek was looking down.
Instead of cow, there was actual human skin there. His leg finally grew back.
“Thank you!” Kanar thought about kissing Anek’s newly grown leg, but decided to slightly pat him on the head instead. That caused Kanar to almost fall in an awkward way, landing strainght into Famona’s lap, which made her face glow with hope. But that only lasted for a few seconds.
Kanar looked at the papers in his hands. Still wrinkled but lasting.
Once upon a time there was a story. It was a different kind of story than the ones people are used to. About a paper, and a hand, and a pen, and it was magical.
“That’s what I’ll call the story ─ DAMN THYME.”