I am a mermaid.
As the full moon shines against the surface of the water, I sink to the bottom of the pool. Bubbles begin to rise around me and I can feel it happening, magic surrounds me: I am magic. Finally, I am ready to leave behind the human world for the deep blue abyss. I swim to the surface, ready to break the news to my parents that, at eight years old, I will be moving away. But when I reach the top, I see them: my unremarkable and obviously human legs.
Middle school was an unfortunate experience for everyone, made all the more traumatic by uncomfortable growth spurts, unwelcomed acne, and my mom going to rehab. I remember feeling like my mom was being attacked from the inside, dragons clawing at her heart, mutilating her mind. The world seemed to be a dark place. I saw a stranger whose eyes were vacant and dark, rather than a mother desperately trying to better herself for her family. I saw a man drowning in a sea of sadness, and not a father just trying to stay afloat. My eyes could only perceive the evil in the world, forcing me to retreat into my own mind where I could conquer the dragons that had abducted my mother, where I could be her knight in shining armor.
I am outside myself;
watching as I move through the physical world, not fully there, and yet not really gone. I look down and see a girl yearning to escape her world and explore a new one. So she does. But when she ventures to her secret realm, she forgets about everyone who needs her back on earth.
My mom has been away for a week now and I decide to send her a care package. Buried beneath an absurd amount of Peanut M&Ms and Diet Coca-Cola are pages from my diary; words that helped me heal when I was raw and broken that I hope will heal her as well. I wrote how my childhood resembled a shattered mirror: broken and imperfect, but still reflecting beauty and light, just as any mirror could. “This is the first time I have smiled in weeks” my mom shares. I feel my feet touch the ground, the dragons in my mind vanishing as I begin to realize the simplicity of my powers. The harsh reality I once ran from had become a bridge between my mother and me, a tool that I could use to bring her into my world.
I am sixteen years old.
My mom is three years sober. Holidays are hard for her; memories of a complete family she believes to have lost haunt her. I see her do what I often do: retreat. I am tempted to retreat myself, to slip away into my daydreams, but her eyes hold me still. They remind me that I am needed; she needs me. I start to dance, socks sliding on the hardwood, nearly falling on my face, and she laughs. Her big, incredible laugh echoes in my ears, and I finally understand what magic is, and more importantly, where it can be found.
I am an elephant.
My long legs carry my body with grace. I stand among a sea of gazelles as they leap over me, jumping at my too-big ears. One of them grabs hold, “Alright let go, you never pull on an elephant’s ear” I say. The child releases my pigtail and gently pets my head, “Sorry, Ellie the Elephant”.
My magic allows me to find joy within the mundane, to see everything brilliant and extraordinary in the world that others may be blind to. Magic enables me to create my own sunshine when the world fails to provide it, and every day I choose to share that light with those around me.