“I’m going to be on TV.” Fred announced.
“Why?” Emily asked, four years younger and interested in everything.
“I will be in the talent show.”
“Good for you Fred.” Dad said, puffing out his chest and sitting up straight.
“I must buy a new dress.” Mum looked dreamy.
Emily didn’t get it. So what if he could pull a stuffed rabbit out of a hat? Everyone knew it was a trick.
“I can do real magic, not play magic like Fred, ” she said.
“Course you can, princess.” Dad said.
Emily scowled. Why did no one believe her?
The house became a frenzy of magic. It was practised every day in every room. Dad would appear and say, “how about a card trick Fred?” Then he would watch and wait, applauding and giving encouragement.
Emily retreated to reading her favourite stories about Tir Na nOg.
One afternoon mum asked, “Who is your assistant Fred?”
He stopped pulling hankies from his hat to consider this problem. “I don’t know. Do I need one?” He squished up his nose and thought about it. “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, didn’t play football or basketball. “No, I think they are busy doing dancing and other girly stuff.”
Emily began to creep out of the room. “Emily could do it.” Fred turned and grinned at his sister.
Mum smiled, “great we should check your party dress. Maybe it needs a few bows or ribbons,” mum dashed from the room. Emily supposed her mum was happy to have a job.
With Emily by his side, Fred began to expand his variety of tricks. “I have a great finale planned Em.” He told her one afternoon.
She had to admit he was good. But she knew she could be better. “Will they expect everything to be perfect?” She asked.
“Of course.” He said.
The morning of the show they arrived at the television centre. Emily brought her favourite book with her and loads of snacks.
Fred looked at her. “We might be on first.”
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 smiled then said, “I don’t think I will have to wait that long.”
“Remember to do everything the way we practised.”
“Don’t worry I will make your act spectacular.” Emily said. “Jelly baby?”
Emily sat and watched the other contestants arrive. She was impressed with a tall thin lady with two small terriers. “Do they do tricks?” She politely asked.
“No.” the lady said. She smelt of lemon soap. The dogs sat at her feet watching and waiting. “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. Emily didn’t give the elderly man with the chainsaw much hope of winning. “He won’t be able to start that thing.” She said.
She was correct. His face was bright red as he left.
“I think the 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.
When it was time Emily 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 the hankies from the hat trick, the water pouring into a paper bag trick. Fred puffed his chest out like his dad did.
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 it, “is solid.” He faced the audience, “there is no escape. 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.
“Now I will spin the box slowly. When I open the door we will discover Emily is no longer there. Instead 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.”
As soon as he uttered the words, she appeared. “I told you I could do magic, why didn’t you listen?”
“I missed you. Where were you?”
“I missed you too. Though Tir Na nOg is spectacular. I think we could use a play magician. That is why I came. 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.