Some things shouldn’t be wished for…
Trevor Cuthbert lives in a world where magick is prohibited.
Hard work, hunger, utter exhaustion are his reality. Wishes can’t bring back the free and easy life he once enjoyed. It’s lost, the day his father, a Celestine Spelltwister, dies in a suspicious hunting accident. He practiced magick right under the noses of the Abra Guild—the organization charged with monitoring magick—but didn’t foresee the incident.
Sixteen is the age when magickal abilities arise, but without training Trevor will never use them. If it weren’t for his wicked stepmother, Eleanora, Trevor could enter the Institute of Prodigious Arts (IPA) and earn a certificate to practice. Instead, he wastes away as housekeeper, errand boy, and the family’s only source of income—working odd jobs for a few shillings. His lazy stepsister and selfish half-brother, Arabella and Lance, only care about school and cotillions.
A magickal glass pocket watch and an unintended wish send Trevor to the twenty-first century. It’s an alternate universe where wishcraft rules and everyone loves Trevor. Finally, he has all that he desires—a loving family, a carefree existence, and the girl next door.
But nothing is that simple. Wishes unfortunately have a tendency to rebound. When a jealous girl casts hers, Trevor has to make a critical choice. Is it possible to be happy and have the love of his life?
All Things Dark & Magickal is a young adult series featuring time travel and retold fairy tales.
Carefully, I head toward Wigglesby’s establishment, stepping around the quagmires peppering Abramelin Street. One slip on the muck-covered carriageway and my attire would be permanently stained and useless. Something I can’t afford to happen.
I’m deep in thought when a fast-moving coach barrels down the path and nearly knocks me over. This manic pace almost dissuades me from my mission, but if I don’t complete it, there’ll be hell to pay. I take a deep breath and immediately regret it as I get a nose full of the foul stench from the Thames mixed with sooty, smoky air.
It’s an area I know well. When I was a student at the Golden Dawn Academy, I often noticed the chimney sweeps walking to the neighborhoods surrounding this part of Crowley. I miss those days—happier, easier times.
Wigglesby’s office is in a grimy, three-story red-brick building. The bell over the weather-beaten door peals as I push it open. Behind a desk sits J. L. Wigglesby—a gaunt-looking man with thinning gray hair. He could easily be mistaken for the hired help in his outdated suit. Wigglesby could afford better clothing, a nicer office, and even a more-affluent address. But the man is tight on his money, claiming he’s saving for a rainy day. With as much as it rains in Crowley, he must be waiting for a deluge.
He drops his pen and pulls a pocket watch from his vest. “You’re late.” His tone is acerbic. “I expected you an hour ago.”
“I’m sorry, sir. The streets were crowded.”
I get an unpleasant glimpse of yellow decay before Wigglesby frowns and glares at me. “The streets are always busy. Either be here on time or don’t bother coming.”
“Yes, sir.” Removing my cap, I stand beside the desk. If I had any real say in the matter, I’d run out the door and never look back.
Wigglesby’s beady eyes rake over me. “I don’t know what Eleanora was thinking. You’re too old and too tall for a sweep. I have no need for another journeyman either. Can you handle a cart?”
“A cart, sir?” I ask tentatively.
“Not too bright, are you? I’ve started a new enterprise—delivering sacks of soot to the farmers outside of town. I need someone who can handle a horse-drawn cart. Think you can manage it? I’ll pay you five shillings a week.”
“Five shillings?” Disbelief colors my loud words. I make better money mucking out the stables. Placing my cap on my head, I pull down the brim. “Not to be ungrateful, but I don’t think this job is right for me.”
The man’s nose wrinkles. “Think you’re too good to handle soot?”
Short answer? Yes. I start for the door.
“You’re probably thinking you make better wages with Elias Pritchett? Let me be the first one to inform you. His stables are up for sale, and I’m considering an offer on them. Pritchett’s horses will be useful in my business.”
The revelation stops me in my tracks. Turning my back on Wigglesby’s offer might leave me unemployed. Not a viable option. “Match what I make with Pritchett, and we have a deal.”
“I’ll pay no more than fifteen shillings a week. Take it or leave it.”
Desperate times call for desperate actions. Bottom line is I have to work. “When do I start?”
Wigglesby doesn’t require my help for a few days. My mind is full of rambling thoughts as I traipse down Abramelin. Who, besides my stepmother, did I upset so much that all I can secure are menial jobs? Hauling soot to the farmers might not be such a bad thing. I’ll be outside the whole time.
In foul weather.
In cold weather.
In blistering hot weather.
Between watching where I walk and my disjointed thinking, I don’t notice the lane in front of me. I collide with a body.
Glancing up, I say, “I’m sorry.”
A petite, skinny waif, her cheeks covered in soot, stands in the roadway. Tattered and dingy petticoats rest in the mud while dark eyes like saucers stare back at me.
“Ya should really watch where you’re going.” The girl’s voice is light and airy like the song of a bird with a hint of an Irish brogue to it. “Did ya come from Wigglesby’s?”
My shoulders slump. “Unfortunately, I did. I start working for him in a few days.”
“Ya don’t belong there.” Her eyebrows squeeze together. “Better things are waiting for ya, Trevor Cuthbert.”
“How do you—?”
A carriage barrels down on us cutting off my words. I tug on the waif’s sleeve and pull her out of its path. A slight pink tinge colors her cheeks when my fingers linger a moment on her arm. She glances down at it. “Thank ya. Ya saved my life.”
My chin dips down before I drop my hand. “I was just being courteous.”
“Nonsense.” She reaches into a pocket, pulls out a glass trinket, and places it in my palm. “A little something for helping me.”
Glancing down, I see something that resembles a pocket watch, but the bow and crown are missing. Its crystal-clear case reveals a sapphire gear train. Unusual for a timepiece. The inner parts aren’t the traditional metals but are crafted from gems. The delicate work of art is too beautiful to bestow upon a stranger. This must be a family heirloom, probably the only thing of value the girl owns.
“I can’t accept this,” I say and try to give it back.
“Of course, ya can. It might come in handy one day. Godspeed to ya.” The girl picks up her petticoats and dashes across the busy thoroughfare before another carriage enters the lane.
I place the watch in my trousers pocket. Hopefully Eleanora won’t notice it.
Two days later, I start my servitude with Wigglesby. I work far too long—starting before the sun rises and stopping long after it sets—for such meager wages. At least there’s a meal waiting for me at the end of the day. One of the farmer’s wives took pity on me and offered a bowl of stew with bits of potato, turnip, carrot, and slivers of beef. She included a hunk of cheese and bread for me to eat in the morning.
When I arrive home, the household is in chaos. The front door opens, and Eleanora drags me into the foyer.
“You must help Lance and Arabella prepare for the cotillion.” My stepmother smooths out the skirt of her black taffeta gown and rushes into the parlor. Wigglesby sits on the chesterfield sofa. He traded out his vest and tie for a faded formal tailcoat, a velvet vest, and an ascot.
“Trevor, did everything go well today?” my miserly employer asks.
“Yes, sir. No problems.”
“Good. I shall see you on the morrow, then.” Wigglesby drapes a black velvet cape about Eleanora’s bare shoulders before donning his top hat.
As soon as the front door slams shut, Arabella rushes down the stairs still wearing her dressing gown. “I need your help. Mother said you’d lace up my…” My stepsister’s gaze drops to my hands covered in dirt. She shakes her head.
Wiggling my fingers at her, I say, “It’s just a little soot.”
“I’ll do it myself,” she declares. Arabella closes her eyes, steeples her fingers beneath her chin, and mutters unintelligible words. Her silk and lace gown slowly fades. In its place is a light-blue and lace, off-the-shoulder ball gown. Delicate silk slippers and lace gloves complete her ensemble.
“That was a waste of magick,” I warn her.
“Waste or not, keep it to yourself. If you weren’t covered in filth, I wouldn’t have had to do it,” Arabella spits out. She turns toward the staircase and bellows, “Lance, where the devil are you?”
“Stop screaming. You’ll wake the dead.” Lance swaggers down the stairs, takes one look at me, and laughs. “Ah, too late for that I’m afraid. Looks like the dead paid us a visit.”
I’m too tired to deal with insults tonight. Lifting my hand, I say to Lance, “Keep up with the insults, and you can wear a blackened suit to the dance.”
“Touchy,” Lance quips. He grasps Arabella by the elbow. “Let us go, sister dear, before our brother resorts to his beastly ways.”
I listen to their raucous laughter as they walk to the gate. It creaks open and closes with a solid slam.
“Aye, what saps! I thought they’d never leave,” a female voice says from behind me.
Whirling around, I see a lovely petite girl in the room. Her acorn-brown eyes are almost doll-like. “Ya don’t remember me?” The Irish brogue sounds slightly familiar. “Ya saved my life earlier t’day.”
This can’t be the same girl. Gone are the tattered, dirty clothes. In their place is a simple white lace gown minus the petticoats. Paper-thin slippers adorn her tiny feet.
“I never introduced me self. The name’s Merritt.” She extends her small hand.
I stare at it for a moment before accepting the gesture. “I’m sorry, but how did you get in here?”
Merritt flits around the living room like a small bird. With every step she takes, her slim frame shimmers. Merritt seems surreal. Could she be one of the fabled fairies or wood nymphs Father used to tell me about?
“It’s not important. Your welfare concerns me.” Merritt sits on the edge of the chaise. “Tell me, Trevor, are ya happy?”
“I’m content.” Happiness, for me, is overrated. It’s something best not dwelled upon.
“Not the same thing.” She shakes her head. “I know ya wanted to be at the fancy party tonight. Would that have made ya happy?”
To be honest, it would have only pleased me for a moment. As soon as Lance took one look at Tamar, my joy would have evaporated like the morning dew. I shove my hands in my pockets. “Not for long.”
Merritt smiles, showing off a mouth of perfect white teeth. “I want ya to concentrate on what will make ya happy.”
“Why?” My eyebrow lifts.
“The timepiece I gave ya earlier is magickal. Ya can cast upon it your most sincere wish, and it will happen.”
I remove the item from my pocket. “That’s clandine magick.”
She sighs. “Yes, it is hidden magick. But tell me this. Would ya rather use forbidden magick to have a better life, or continue with the one ya have?”
“My father always said that magick had a price,” I tell her and place the trinket back in my pocket.
“Another truth. You’re the only one who can decide if the outcome is worth the price.” And with those words, Merritt vanishes.
I stand there looking at the spot she was in. With my hand gripping the watch, I contemplate what she said. What will truly make me happy?
I can’t imagine my life continuing on the same path—penniless, hungry, and working myself to an early grave. One would think finally going to the IPA would be my desire, but practicing magic and living with Eleanora and her children would still be insufferable. The only thing that would make me truly happy is living in some place far, far away from here.
About the Author:
A native of Detroit, Michigan and a graduate of Western Michigan University, SF has fed her creative brain through a variety of jobs from customer service to working with animals. Although the work title has changed, one thing remained true—her desire to be a writer. As a kid she could often be found writing stories or with a book in her hand. It didn’t matter where the location, SF could be found reading (even at the beach).
Her debut novel, Regress—a dystopian set in her home state—developed from a dream. When she’s not concocting tales in her sleep, SF has been known to come up with entire dialogues in the shower.
SF prefers writing stories which answer the “what if” question in life. Her protagonists are strong and diverse set in post-apocalyptic or paranormal worlds.
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