prompt: hungry, title: jazz hands in "the next big thing" flash fiction

  • Dec. 7, 2021, 8:17 p.m.
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“I hate those The Secret books,” she told Frank more than once, “the idea that magic’s simple as projecting intentions then getting whatever you want, such a childish and hungry and greedy way of thinking the universe works. Christ, I wish it was that easy.” Whether she took Yeshua’s name in vain ironically, as a practicing kabbalistic magus, or simply as a cultural reflex, Mitzi probably didn’t know herself. “I’m a… rich tapestry.” She enjoyed flip ambiguities like that.

From time to time, she’d try to use her skills to help Frank augur what had actually happened to his people, the disappeared yeti, the missing missing-links. If they’d all died off. If they’d gone into some impossibly-effective hiding. If they had been scooped up by aliens or transcended the material entirely. Even if they never came up with anything, Frank’s friendship was important to her and she only asked him one thing in return: that he allow her to ramble about real magics as they tried. Mitzi didn’t have many people she could talk to about her actual self, so much of her livelihood depended on pretending her miracles were all just slight-of-hand. The difference, she figured, between a headline slot at a small nightclub and being burnt at the stake as a witch.

“Magic is work,” she would say, “negotiation and hard work. For the smaller stuff, remembering and properly modifying just the right set of words and gestures perfectly to pull a little bit at the threads of the weave and get the intended effect. You know, for the simple tricks and nonsense.”

Maybe she’d do another set of jazz hands, searching for Frank’s lost world, before continuing:

“For the big stuff, for the stuff I try to do as rarely as possible for my own selfish sake, it’s all on what you’re willing to bargain, what you’re willing to give up for The Big Y’s intermediaries the Hallmark Channel so charmingly calls ‘angels’.” That strange turn of phrase was the epitome of the Amazing Mitzi’s complicated attitude toward divinity, calling God “The Big Y”, causal and cheeky but ultimately respectful, at least by the letter of Mosaic law. To call her God “Yahweh” was simply not done in their traditions, so she papered over the vulnerability of devotion with a sheen of flippancy that was technically still reverent. It’s damnably hard to do your God’s work in the world and still feel as though you are hip.

Invariably, though, her searches would fail again and she’d apologize to her friend, a little less confident in her abilities. “Don’t worry,” the sasquatch told her once, “my people have… had a saying: the definition of mastery is doing the same thing over and over and over again until you finally get it right.”

“My people,” Mitzi retorted, “say that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over and over again while expecting different results.”

“Oh yeah,” Frank said, “I believe I’ve heard that one too.”


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