“It’s your birthday,” Sarah tells me in the office canteen, as we share a salad. “You should get a little magic in your life.”
I smile. “Yes, you’re right. Why don’t you come to my party? It’s tonight at my apartment. Nothing fancy: just a few friends and some drinks.”
“Maybe,” she says, smiling.
That afternoon it’s hard to concentrate on the data I’m entering. I wonder what happens to all the numbers I type on my ancient grey-green keyboard. And if I get them wrong, what happens? It’s not something we’re expected to understand, not at Level 2. I assume once I get to be a Level 3 Data Entry Clerk I’ll be let into the secrets of the data. Maybe I’ll even get to follow some numbers one day and see where they go, who they touch.
It’s five o’clock. I feel a little guilty as I’ve been daydreaming this afternoon. Hardly entered any data. But then, it is my birthday.
As I’m walking home I realise I didn’t tell Sarah my address. I sigh. I have two types of day dreams: one of them involves data. The other, my favourite kind, involves Sarah. But I guess it’ll still be a fun party even if she doesn’t come.
* * *
The party goes pretty well. Sarah doesn’t show up, as I predicted. I wonder if she would have come if I had given her my address? Maybe. She seemed surprisingly friendly at lunch.
When the last guests have left, and I’m alone in my apartment, I take a look at my small pile of presents. No great surprises — some socks, cuff-links, that kind of thing — until the final gift. It’s wrapped in shiny silver paper and has a small card attached to it. The card says “A bit of magic, Sarah. X”
I wonder if the X is a kiss, or something else. But then I realise the bigger mystery is how the present got here, since I didn’t see Sarah at the party.
I glance around the apartment, as if I might see her standing in the corner, but it’s a pretty small place, and it’d be hard to hide a whole person in it.
I can tell it’s a book before I open it. It’s called ‘This book will change your world’. It’s full of short stories. I pick a fairy tale, wondering if the book will live up to its title.
* * *
I must have fallen asleep reading. I think I finished the chapter. It was pretty mundane, in the end. My world certainly hasn’t changed.
I pull on my wizard’s hat and open the door of my toadstool, leaving the book beside my cauldron. Perhaps I’ll try another chapter tonight.