“I’m a pencil in a box full of erasers.” Elaine tossed her book bag on the kitchen counter and grabbed a Cherry Dr. Pepper. She needed the big guns today.

Evan lost focus on his spell and lengthened the dog’s tail instead of the cat’s. Comet, a white shepherd, wagged a tail that had doubled in size and cleared the coffee table. Homework failure at its finest. “What’s the matter, Sis?”

She took a swig of her brew but didn’t speak.

“What did Dr. Wraith find?” Evan clipped his words as he searched for the counter-spell. He was dead if he didn’t return Dad’s dog to normal before he got home from the coven.

“I’m a perfectly normal seventeen-year-old. Heavy emphasis on the normal. Somehow, with a witch mother and wizard father, four magical grandparents, eight magical great-grandparents, and sixteen magical great-great-grandparents, I’m a norm.” Elaine dropped to the floor and patted Comet. Ivory, a blue-eyed, white, Ragdoll cat, crawled into Elaine’s lap. She hugged both familiars and groaned. “I’m a failure.”

“No,” Evan held up Comet’s extra-long tail. “This is a failure. I’m going to blow my mid-term.”

“At least you will take mid-terms.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I’ve been kicked out. I’ll start at the norm high school on Monday. I understand they cover exciting topics like English grammar, learning a new language via video, and Geometry. Seriously, we studied that in the early grades. Now is the time to hone our skills.” Elaine dumped Ivory on the floor and stood. She walked out of the room muttering, “Oh yeah, I don’t have any magic. Maybe I’ll get a job at McDonald’s. Do you want fries with that?”

“Wait,” Evan called after her.

“Let her go.” Dad placed a grocery bag on the counter. “She’s had a severe disappointment and needs a few minutes to herself.”

“Disappointment? Dad, she was just told she doesn’t have any magical talent. That can’t be true, can it?”

“It’s rare, but it happens.”

“But, normal high school? She’ll be a laughing stock. Even the norms will know she failed the mage trials. They’ll make her life unbearable. How about homeschooling?”

“Son, look at the big picture. Elaine must get a job in their world. She needs to understand them and her new life. We can’t teach her that.”

“But –”

“No buts. This is life.” Dad reached into the bag and grabbed the rotisserie chicken. His eyes landed on Comet and he turned back to Evan. “What happened?”

*****

Monday afternoon Evan waited outside the norm high school. If anyone had upset Elaine, he would turn them into toads. At least he would try. Toads were hard. She walked out of the school surrounded. He marched over, ready to do battle.

“Hey, Evan. Guys, this is my brother Evan. Evan, this is my personal welcoming committee: Tyler, Alexis, Caleb, Dalton, and Kaylee.

Evan stopped. Elaine looked happier than she had in a long time. She waved bye to her new friends and the siblings cut down the greenway to the Enchanted Borough. Once they keyed in their passcodes, they entered the world of magic. Evan asked, “How was it?”

“Wonderful. The normals have delightful ways to deal without magic. Did you know they use electronics to keep in contact? No spells, crystal balls, or animal guides. They pull out their phone and text or call. It’s brilliant. Do you think Mom and Dad will get me a phone? I could pay half. And if I get a job, I could pay the monthly fee.”

Evan raised his eyebrows. “Job? Where will you get a job?”

“Caleb’s mother owns a store in town and she’s looking for part-time help. I met her at the job fair today. Tyler’s dad, too. He said I could work at one of his restaurants. He own’s a chain.”

“A chain. Fast food?”

“Yes. There’s nothing wrong with fast food.”

“Weren’t you the one grousing about fries the other day?”

Elaine frowned. “I’ve learned so much since then. Norms have many ways to compensate for their lack of magic. Computers give them instant access to research. GPS gets them where they’re going without following a tracking spell. Timers turn lights on and off without incantations. Some of their medicines equal our potions.”

Evan scratched his head. “No one made fun of you?”

“What? No, there were lots of questions. The magical community is too secretive. A couple of kids thought I was in school to terrorize them. When I told them I was a norm, and the school principal confirmed it, they were fine. Civics class turned into a Q&A with me explaining about life in the magical community.”

Evan smiled. It looked like Elaine would be alright.

More flash fiction from N. R. Tucker.

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