Where the Dust Comes From
“Alright, now, as soon as you see it, you must scoop it up!”
“So what do you do when you see it?”
“Scoop it up!”
“Good boy, good. Now, watch…”
Anne tapped the tip of her ‘wand’ against the edge of her plate. Once, twice…three times and a small plume of dust spilled out onto the table. Jamie, wielding his cooking scraper well, scooped the dust off to the side.
“Scoop! Scoop!” Anne encouraged, laughing along with the boy as he nudged the flurry of dust onto the small pile he’d accumulated next to the plate. Once he was done, they both cheered and clapped to each other, pleased as peach to have piled up some dust.
“Anann Anann!” — Jamie’s name for her since before he could pronounce ‘aunt’ — “Can you do it again?”
“Alright, alright,” Anne laughed. “Once more, and then it’s off to bed. Get ready though, okay? What will you do when you see the dust?”
Anne nodded. She drew herself upright, positioned her chopstick of a wand imperiously, then tapped at the side of the plate, scuffing her dirty fingers against each other to cause a small cascade of flour to sift down around the chopstick. It wouldn’t have been so dramatic if the last rays of the sun coming in through the blinds make it so that they dust only showed at the last moment.
They’d made a pie that morning, of course. Jamie had helped with the mixing, mostly by making a mess of himself, though he might’ve gotten some of the flour in the bowl where it belonged.
That was hours ago, though. Ages. That had been in the kitchen and this was in the dining room. Two vastly different worlds separated by eons of time, in the mind of a child. That was cooking, this was magic.
That night, Anne would tuck him into bed, and she knew that some tendril of thought about this moment would creep through, and he would ask about the magic. “Where does the dust come from? Are you magical, Anann? Can you teach me some magic?”
She’d do what adults did. She’d beg off. She’d lie and cajole and bribe him to bed without ever revealing her secret. Tomorrow, doubtless, she’d come up with some other bit of magic, but for now, he had a bit of mystery. Dust came from Anann. Anann was magical. That would be enough to get him trying to conjure up dust for weeks.
That was the real trick. That was the real magic.