“I’m going to be on TV.” Fred announced.
Emily looked at him. Fred was four years older. “Why?” She asked.
“I’ll be in the talent show.”
“Good for you Fred.” Dad said, puffing out his chest.
“I must buy a new dress.” Mum looked dreamy.
Emily didn’t get it. Pulling a stuffed rabbit out of a hat? Everyone knew it was a trick.
She looked at them. “But I do real magic, not play magic like Fred.”
“Course you can, princess.” Dad said.
“How about I buy you a new dress, Em?”
Emily scowled. Why did no one believe her?
For the next month the house was in a frenzy of magic.
Emily retreated to read her favourite Celtic stories. She was happy, until she heard her mum ask, “Who is your assistant Fred?”
“I don’t know. Do I need one?” He squished up his nose then said, “Stupid me, all the best magicians have an assistant.”
“There are a lot of girls in your class. I bet one of them would love to help.”
Fred scowled. He didn’t like girls. They giggled. They didn’t play football or basketball. “No, I don’t think they would be allowed to come over for practise. Most of them are busy doing dancing and other girly stuff.”
Emilycrept towards the door.
“Emily could do it.” Fred turned and grinned at his sister.
Mum said, “good. Em, you can work with Fred.”
Fred put on his sad face. Loving your brother is a bore, Emily thought. “Okay.”
“Great now I must check your dress. It might need a bit of pzazz. A few bows or ribbons,” mum dashed from the room.
With Emily by his side, Fred continued to practise. “I have a great finale planned Em.” He said, leading her into the garden where he had his greatest trick of all set up.
He was good, but Emily knew she could be better. “Will they expect everything to be perfect?” She asked.
“Course it will be.” He said.
The morning of the show arrived. The television centre was on the other side of town. Emily brought her favourite book with her and loads of snacks.
Fred looked at her. “We might be on first and be home early.”
Shaking her head she answered. “Not with my luck.”
He scowled at her. Then gave her hand a pat, “You will get your chance to show off on TV when you are eleven. It’s only a couple of years.”
She said, “I don’t think I will have to wait that long.”
“I hope you aren’t going to mess me act up.”
“Don’t worry I will make your act spectacular.” Emily said. “Jelly baby?”
Fred went to put on his costume. lady with an angular face sat beside her. At her feet were two terrriers wearing large bows.
“Do they do tricks?” She politely asked.
“No.” The lady moved closer. She smelt of lemon soap. The dogs curled up at at her feet. “They sing in harmony.”
One of the dogs belched.
“Great.” Emily said. And picking up her book she began to read it.
One by one the contestants were called to the set. Emily glanced at the elderly man holding a chainsaw. “He won’t be able to start that thing.” She said.
She was correct. His face was bright red as he left the room in a hurry.
“I think that man with the guitar will win.” She said listening to him strumming on his guitar.
Fred scowled. “Thanks, what about me?”
“You Fred, will be spectacular.” She smacked her lips together.
A tap on her shoulder, “are you ready dear?” the man with the clipboard asked.
She straightened her dress, fixed her brightest smile on her face and walked into the room behind Fred.
“I will perform magic for you this afternoon. I will be helped by my charming sister, Emily.” Fred said.
Emily gave a courtesy and beamed. The audience clapped and someone whistled. They like me. This thought carried Emily through a perfect rendition of pouring the water into a paper bag trick. On and on it went. Fred stuck his chest out. This irritated Emily a little.
He’s a twit. I can do magic. This thought landed in her head and would not be shifted.
She heard Fred say, “In a minute I will ask Emily to stand in this box, which,” he tapped the sides and top, “is solid.” He gave the audience a quick smile before he said, “Would a member of the audience check it out please?”
An elderly man shuffled from his seat and inspected the box. Emily thought he might kick it. “It’s solid.” He said and went back to his seat.
Fred pointed at Emily and then at the box. She could feel her temper rising. I’m tired of being bossed around.
Inside the box, Emily relaxed. She could no longer see Fred. It helped. Unfortunately she could hear him.
It was enough.
“I will spin the box and say the magic word. When I open the door Emily will have vanished. She will appear from behind the curtain.”
When Fred opened the door the applause was deafening. “Isn’t he great?” mum breathed. She looked across the stage waiting for Emily to appear.
An hour later they were still searching for her.
* * * *
Seventy years later Fred lay on his death bed. “I would give anything to know what happened to Em.”
She appeared before him. “I told you. I can do magic, why didn’t you listen?”
“I missed you. Where were you?”
“Tir Na nOg, It is spectacular. We could use a play magician. Would you like to come with me now?”
Fred gave a nod.
When the nurse came to check on him; he was no longer there.