I Want To Do Magic by Susan Sarapuk: A short story from our Archives

boy daydreaming

I Want To Do Magic

By Susan Sarapuk

Enjoy this short story from our archives


Their lives could certainly do with some sparkle, and Justin had a plan…


“Mum! Where’s my Box of Magic?” Justin came running into the kitchen looking frantic.

Karen looked up from the boxes waiting to be unpacked. “I’m sure it’s with all the stuff in your bedroom. You packed it, didn’t you?”

He sighed and left. This move had been difficult for Justin, leaving behind his friends. They’d had no choice really; Ed had to go where the work was.

Her husband appeared in the doorway.

“That’s the last piece of furniture in,” he said. She heard the removal van leaving. “So, here we are. It’s going to
be fine.” He slipped his arms around
her waist reassuringly.

“It’s going to be fine,” she echoed, not sounding convinced.

“Justin was going on about that magic box of his,” Ed said. “I don’t know why he’s never opened it. I bought it for him because he wanted to do magic and he’s never used it!”

“Mum!” came the excited call from upstairs. “I’ve found it!”

“So all’s well with the world.” Ed grinned, satisfied.

Not quite, Karen thought. Their son had to find his way in this new place – and so did she.

Who knew what her son’s logic was?

She drove Justin to school the following morning.

“Do you want me to come in with you?” she asked anxiously as she pulled in to drop him off.

“I’ll be OK, Mum.”

She watched him disappear through the gate, caught up in the crowd of noisy children. Ed had said it was best to leave him get on with it, but she felt for Justin. He was only ten; he’d be joining a class of children who’d already gone through five or six years of school together. He wasn’t sporty or outgoing. He seemed to spend most of his time drawing and writing or using the camcorder.

Sighing, she pulled out into the traffic. It was her turn to get on with making a new life now – and she didn’t know where on earth to begin.

The first thing was to sort out the house. She went upstairs to check on Justin’s room first. Unpacked boxes littered the floor. He’d already put a few things on the desk – his camcorder, notebooks and coloured pencils and there, on the shelf unit, taking pride of place, was the precious Box of Magic. Still unopened.

She shook her head. Who knew what her son’s logic was?

It takes a while to get to know people

“Well, how was it?” she said brightly as he got into the car.

She was at the school gate early, anxious to find out how his first day had gone. He was on his own and didn’t wave goodbye to anyone.

“Yeah, it was all fine, Mum.”

“Tell me all about it. Who did you make friends with? Is the teacher nice?”

He mentioned some names but didn’t speak about anyone in a way to suggest he’d already made friends.

“It takes a while to get to know people,” she said.

“Yeah Mum, I know.” He slid down in his seat and buried his chin in his blazer.

If they’d been at home he would have been playing with Tim and Nathan and Jack after school. She felt for him.

After tea he went out into the garden with his camcorder. She watched from the kitchen window. Later she found him in his bedroom sitting at his desk writing.

“Homework already?” she said.

“No, I’m working on a story for a film. I want to be like JJ Abrams.”

She raised a quizzical eyebrow.

“The film director,” he explained. “I’m going to email it to Nathan to see what he thinks.”

Thank goodness for computers, Karen thought. At least he could stay in touch with his old friends. Yet she knew that they both needed to make new ones.

How was she going to get involved?

How did Justin get on at school today, then?” Ed asked hopefully when he came home.

“OK, I think. It’ll take a while.”

“What about you?”

“Mm. I’ve been pottering around the house – you know.”

“Mary, Don’s wife, plays tennis on a Thursday with some of the other women. You used to play didn’t you? She said why don’t you join them?”

Karen felt strangely reticent. She’d always been shy, which was where Justin probably got it from.

“I don’t know,” she said anxiously.

“Come on, Karen.” He gave her a cuddle. “I know I’ve asked a lot of the both of you moving from everything you felt safe with, but give it a go.”

“Just give me time.” She smiled.

Within a couple of days the house was straight and there was nothing else she could do to it.

Later, at the school she made herself get out of the car and say hello to a couple of the other mothers. They were friendly enough, but everyone had their clique they belonged to. She walked into the village and ordered a coffee at the café. As she drank it alone she watched a group of young mothers chatting and laughing together.

How was she going to get involved with a group?

She looked for Justin as the bell rang. Would he come out on his own again? Please God, he wouldn’t. She saw him talking to a couple of boys as he emerged and breathed a sigh of relief.

“Have they asked you to play?” she put an arm about his shoulders.

“No.” He shook his head.

“Why don’t you ask them around?”

“I don’t really know them,” Justin said.

She found herself pining for her old friends

Things didn’t seem to be improving as time went on.

She did persevere in saying hello to people in the café or at the school gate, but got no further than that. She found herself pining for her old friends and wondering how she was ever going to make a life for herself here. Ed was happy in his work, but both she and Justin were still trying to break into a group. He was either out with his camera or scribbling away in his room.

“In your room again?” She stated the obvious as she came into Justin’s bedroom on the Saturday morning. He was sitting at his desk drawing frantically. “What are you doing?”

“I’m storyboarding a film I’ve written,” he enthused. “It’s going to be cool!”

Karen picked up the Box of Magic from the shelf. “Why have you never opened this?” she said. “You were very keen to be a magician not so long ago.”

Justin looked up from his work.

“I got the camcorder then, Mum, and realised I wanted to make a different kind of magic. Anyway, I don’t want to open the box. It’s called the Box of Magic and I feel that if I open it I’ll know what’s in it and all the magic will be gone.”

Karen threw her son a puzzled look.

“I can believe there’s real magic in it if I don’t open it, you see.”

He really was rather clever, she thought with a flash of pride.

“There is magic in the world, isn’t there?” Now he sounded like a child needing her reassurance again.

“Yes,” she answered firmly.

“Well, then. I’m going to make it happen.” He grinned.

You have to believe in magic, Mum

Justin came out of school on Monday beaming and surrounded by children.

“Wow!” Karen said as she greeted him with a kiss. “What’s happened?”

“I just told them all that I’m going to make a film. I gave out the scripts and anybody who wants to be in it can turn up at our place on Saturday. Will it be alright to use the garden?”

“It’s more than alright!” She hugged him. “Well done, you.”

“You have to believe in magic, Mum.”

“Even if you make it happen yourself.” She nodded.

Later that evening when he was out in the garden, she stole into his room and picked up the Box of Magic. She shook it.

“Come on,” she whispered. “I need a little magic.”

If it could work for Justin, maybe it could work for her too.

We’re glad you’re here

Clutching her racket, Karen walked onto court at the club where a group of women stood at the net laughing and chatting. They turned as she approached.

“Hi,” she said. “I’m Karen, Ed’s wife. He told me you played here on Thursdays and that I could join you.”

A young woman stepped forward with a smile to welcome her.

“I’m Mary. We were wondering when you were going to join us. We’re glad you’re here at last.”

“So am I.” Karen smiled back. With a little determination and some magic this wasn’t going to be so hard after all.


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Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me kbyrom@dctmedia.co.uk