It’s All Done With Mirrors

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“Now, he’s going to ask for a volunteer from the audience,” said my grandfather.

He’d been explaining how the magic tricks were achieved all through the performance, and it was annoying me — not that I would tell him so.

I was eight years old and had travelled up from Melbourne to spend the holidays in Bendigo with my grandparents.

The magic show was a special treat.

“It helps that we are a big country town,” said my grandfather. “Most of the overseas acts don’t visit the smaller towns.”

The Magician, resplendent in his mysterious robes, moved to the edge of the stage, so much so that I thought he might fall off. He didn’t, but he did point his ‘magic wand’ in my direction.

“I vant you,” he said in an eastern European accent — my grandfather thought it was Bulgarian with just a hint of Lithuanian.

There were several pleading hands waiving, including mine.

Pick me, pick me, I was thinking.

“Not you leetle boy, the young lady sitting next to you.”

My grandmother blushed.

With much encouragement from the audience and my grandfather, my grandmother moved up onto the stage.

The Magician met her at the stairs and guided her to the middle of the stage.

The scantily clad young woman who had been acting as the Magician’s assistant, took my grandmother by the hand and as the stagehands wheeled out a person-sized box, she opened the box to show us it was empty.

“He’ll use mirrors for this trick,” said my grandfather.

The crowd was still applauding as my grandmother stepped into the box. She smiled as he closed the door.

The door divided in two. The Magician opened the top half, and we could see my smiling grandmother.

The Magician closed the door — the stagehands lifted the top half of my grandmother and put her on the stage. The door opened, and there she was, top half-smiling away, bottom half kicking her feet.

The audience applauded.

“Mirrors,” said my grandfather and I wished he would shut up. I wanted to enjoy the magic unfettered.

The stagehands wheeled away the bottom half of my grandmother and the Magician closed the door on the top half.

The top half of my grandmother was then split in two, and Magician put the top half on the floor, opened the door, and the head of my grandmother smiled at us all.

The audience applauded.

“She would have gone through a trapdoor and popped up through a different trapdoor,” said my grandfather.

Please shut up!

The Magician threw his cloak over the box containing my grandmother’s head as the stagehands removed the rest of her.

He said some magic words in an eastern European accent, taped the box with his magic wand, removed the cape and opened the tiny door.

My grandmother was gone.

The audience applauded.

The Magician thanked the audience with a flourish of his cloak, the audience applauded, and the curtain closed.

People began to gather themselves and leave the grand old concert hall.

“Your grandmother will come out soon, and she will be able to tell us how the trick was done,” said my grandfather.

Most of the people had left the hall when I decided to go and see what was keeping my grandmother.

I climbed the same steps she had and pushed past the heavy curtain. I could see the Magician and a bunch of workmen packing things into cane baskets.

I asked the Magician where my grandmother was, and he said that he didn’t speak very good English and that he had to catch the train to Sydney in half an hour. He held my head in his hands and kissed me on the forehead.

“You good boy,” he said in an Eastern European accent, probably Bulgarian with a bit of Lithuanian thrown in.

I went back to my seat, sat next to my grandfather, who was sure that his wife was ‘coming along soon’.

An old man came and told us that we would have to leave because they were closing up.

When we got home, my grandfather made me a toasted cheese sandwich, “It’s your grandmother’s favourite,” he said.

Two days passed, and my grandmother did not appear.

“No need to tell your mum and dad about all this,” said my grandfather as I packed my bag.

My holidays were over, and I had to ride the train back to Melbourne.

I settled in my seat, near the window. My grandfather stood alone on the platform. He held up one hand as the train began to move. He didn’t wave.

I held up my hand and pressed it to the glass.

The carriage lurched, and I was heading home.

My holidays were over, and I had a secret.

 

 

Illustration credit: Angela Barrett

14 thoughts on “It’s All Done With Mirrors

  1. Thank you, Mr Kyte.
    It’s always a risk not having a comfy ending.
    Always good to hear from you.
    Very occasionally, I get asked about editing services for authors, and mostly the bloke I used a few years back, is not able to help (he’s US-based) so I’ve added your name to the top of my referral list for Aussie writers. I used to do basic writer’s lectures (one-offs) but I haven’t felt like it for some time. It’s around those times that I get an influx of requests for help. I don’t offer help (other than writer’s workshops) because I’m usually working on a book of my own and I don’t like being distracted. I hope your business picks up again (I read your most recent post — be kind to DA, it’s a tough job).
    Terry

    Like

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