Excerpt for Life's Magic by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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It was the first day of spring and I was out in the jungle because it was a good day to spend time with Coreen, my girlfriend. Coreen was my first love, aside from my parents of course. We've been together since I was nine and up until now, our relationship had gotten even stronger specially after her rough times when she needed to undergo operation.

I was with Coreen when the accident happened so I pretty much had the same condition as her but I easily recovered after two days in the hospital wearing a cast on my left leg and a sling for my arm. While Coreen had to work her recovery for a couple of months. Her rear disc needed to be repaired, spokes replaced when it was unhinged from the accident including the saddle, busted rear tire and broken chains. She'd been overhauled since then. Yes, Coreen was my mountain bike and I loved her.

Dad told me once that one day I'd realize that the world have more to offer, more beautiful and grand rather than a day with Coreen. But my mind refused to accept that there's still more beautiful than Coreen. I couldn't actually think of a day without Coreen.

I've been in this woods thrice already and it was always me and dad that comes here. When I asked him why mom couldn't come with us, he told me it was our secret place. No one should know about the place but only the guys in the family. When I reached the edge of our property, I swerved and skidded before pedaling fast back to where I came from. Coreen had performed better after her operation, she can drift, skid and leap higher than before and I couldn't be any prouder.

Sweat started trickling down my back and armpits but the draft of the spring lessened the sticky feeling I felt. I hopped off of Coreen and wheeled her towards the house seeing David Thorne, who's also my dad, sitting on the front porch with his guitar. Maybe dad's guitar was his first love because I kept seeing him with it when we're here, caressing, cleaning and plucking it with expertise.

"Mitch, come!" Dad waved his hand, setting his guitar up the rattan chair.

Kicking Coreen's stand, I propped her up beside the railings of the cabin.

"I haven't finished circling the area." I told him so he'd know I'd be back to the jungle soon.

I loved it here. I instantly fell in love the first time dad showed me the place. The cabin was huge with four bedrooms and their own shower and baths. The driveway was gravel and stone and the rest of the land were overgrown weeds and tall old trees. It was enchanting.

"I know. I just wanna tell you a story." He smiled before tapping the space beside him for me to sit.

"I think I already know what that story is." I didn't want to complain but every time we come here, he always had a story to tell as if he couldn't tell it anywhere else but here.

"Sit, Michael Thorne." When his voice turned into this commanding tone, I didn't have a choice but to obey.

"Ok, I'm sitting now. What's the story?" I perched my elbows over my knees staring blankly at the jungle, my feet were already itching to take Coreen back inside the woods again.

"Have I told you that you're not getting any younger, son?" His voice returned into a soft deep rumble.

"I'm thirteen, I'd like to know why you think of me not young anymore? Basically, adults such as you think I'm still a kid."

"Smartass, aren't we?" Dad chuckled, elbowing my side. "I've also told you that Coreen isn't your world. You have to explore outside your comfort zone, Mitch. Meet new people of your age. I've never seen you with a friend."

"Dad." I couldn't stop the whine in my voice this time.

Now I really want to leave. My parents have been reprimanding me time and again to meet new people and gain some friends at school. But as an aloof and introvert person, meeting people really scared me and forcing myself to gain some friends felt so awkward.

"Listen son, I want you to know something. This cabin as I've told you have been passed on from my ancestors down to their sons and now to me. When I'm gone, this will be yours, too. Only sons. No daughters."

"Yeah you've told me this before."

"But I haven't told you why only sons." He reminded.

"Yeah why not?" I looked at him with a frown on my face.

I was too distracted with the enchanting place, I haven't ask him why only guys should know the place. Whenever we come here, mom always got worried since we couldn't even use our phones or any gadgets here because the network couldn't reach the area. It was that far and deserted. And I loved it more because of that. That's why I called it a jungle.

"The only time a girl or a woman can come here is by magic."

I frowned at him. "I now get why you told me I'm no young anymore. Because I'm not a kid anymore to listen to your magical stories. They're just myths. I'm aware they don't really exist."

Dad's eyes crinkled when he chuckled. "Oh no, Mitch. That's where you're wrong. The world is a magical place. So many miracles and unfathomable wonders happening as we speak. We just don't know where or when it occurs. But they do happen every time. I have witnessed it myself. Your grandfather too and all the fathers in our blood line experienced the magic here in this very place."

As a kid, my interest peaked so I stayed in place and listened further to his story. "So how did it happened? The magic?"

"You'll see your future here in this place. Not today but time will come, you will. Here is where you weave your dreams and ambitions. Here you will learn your purpose."

"I don't think I understand. Is there some time machine hidden here?"

My father laughed so loud it echoed around the jungle, his voice bouncing from tree to tree. "Maybe. But no. I'd like to call it a magical occurrence where you'll experience bizarre things that's not suppose to happen in reality. But truthfully, it's in reality that bizarre things actually happens. Ironic, isn't it? When you're old enough, you'll understand."

Dad tapped my shoulder twice before he stood and went inside the cabin with his guitar under his arm. I was left wondering and puzzled.



"We got a new neighbor?" My mom asked to no one in particular as we drove by the house we knew had been empty for the past year.

Now, there was a moving van outside the driveway and people mingling around the place. I believed dad answered mom but their voices fell at the background as I continued staring outside the window of our car to the house that was five blocks away from ours.

There was a woman in a wheelchair by the side of the parked car, a man ordering the men where to put their things and a little girl sitting on the grass. When the girl heard the engine, she stood running towards their gate and gazed at us even if I knew she couldn't possibly see us through the tint. She waved her tiny hand, showing her toothless smile at us. I thought... No, it couldn't be. Could she somehow see us? Why was she staring at me? No that's impossible. She continued to wave and smile. I also stared at her, almost breaking my own neck when the car turned to our street and lost her all at once.

Sitting straight up, I caught dad watching me through the rear view mirror but I withdrew my gaze to resume looking outside the window. As soon as the car parked at our garage, I sprinted out of it and grabbed Coreen out of her chains.

"We just arrived, honey. Where are you going?" Mom asked with a frown.

"I'll just go around the subdivision grounds. I miss Coreen. I'll be right back sooner than you'll notice."

"Be careful, ok."

"Yes mom. Dad, see you later!"

Dad didn't reply but I knew he'd only throw me one of his usual salutes as I pedalled outside our white picket fence. My legs were on fire as soon as I arrived at the subdivision grounds, maneuvering my girlfriend in circles multiple times around the park. It was refreshing to wheel Coreen again after a month without her. I pedalled around the grounds and returned to our house after counting five circles.

I stopped and looked at our two story home, with round porch painted with cream and dark blue lining. It looked just like the icing my mom usually make on top of her baked cakes. It was a wonderful home, warm and cozy. My parents allowed me to take the attic even if I have my own bedroom at the second floor. My parents were really cool I couldn't ask for more.

It looked like they'd settled in after our trip from Hawaii. We took our summer vacation there. Dad was into business, managing his own brand of car parts. I guess he's doing well looking at the way we lived our lives in comfort. I pedalled again. All the houses in the subdivision mostly owned by above average families if not rich. It was located a little in an uptown area but there were establishments and schools near us that it was still convenient as we go.

Finally, I reached the house where the new comers lived. Coreen and I stopped just a few feet of the main gate, studying their house. Just like ours, their gate was low, picket fences painted in green. Their garage was only smaller while ours competing the size of the main house. But they had front yard covered in moss and grass, I could easily imagine the little girl playing her doll there.

Speaking of the little girl, she suddenly appeared into view, bolting out of their door and into the front yard dragging a bunny as she went. She was wearing what looked like a furry overalls. I even chuckled realizing she had the same hide as her pink stuffed bunny. She instantly saw me and ran to their gates again.

"Hello there!" She bellowed.

I would've left if I wouldn't look stupid not approaching her after staring so long at their house. So I walked Coreen near their house and stopped outside their gate.

"Hi. You're new here." It wasn't a question but a statement since it was obvious they just arrived.

"Yes. Are you from here, too?" Her face lifted up as she stared at me.

The setting sun streamed down her freckled face. Her green eyes were big and her mouth had a path of ice cream smeared across her plump cheek. Her golden hair shimmered along her shoulders as she moved. She's lovely.

"Yeah. I was in the car that drove by earlier. You were waving at us. My parents and I just arrived from our vacation."

"Vacation?" Her buttoned nose scrunched in obvious dislike. "They always go in a vacation. Mom and dad are always in a vacation leaving me with a sitter." She complained. She stuck her face further between the gap of their gate reaching her hand to me. "I'm Donatella. What's your name?"

I smiled at her, taking her tiny hand to my bigger palm. "I'm Michael but you can call me Mitch." Her hand was so soft and chubby as I shook it. "Your name, it sounded like the one in Ninja Turtles. You know, Donatello?"

She pouted. "That's a boy, I'm a girl!" She stomped her foot when she spoke. "Here, this is Jess. He's my boyfriend."

I had to laugh at her in amusement because I didn't had Coreen until I was nine. But she seemed to have found her first love at a very young age.

"Hello, Jess. It's nice meeting you." I waved my hand to the bunny. "How old are you and Jess?"

"Oh, Jess is older than I. He's already thirteen and I'm five."

"Really? Maybe Jess and I can be friends. We're of the same age."

"Oh great! We can play here in our house. Would you like to come inside?"

"I don't think so." Wouldn't be dangerous for a little girl like her to invite strangers into their home?

"Donatella? Baby, who's that?"

I looked up to see the same woman on a wheel chair earlier. She looked so thin and pale. Her bones were peeking out of her shoulders, her brown eyes hallowed as well as her cheeks.

"Good afternoon, Mrs... " I didn't know their last name and just let my words hang in the air.

"Caldwell." A deep male voice supplied for me, standing behind the woman and looking at me with his serious gaze. "Mathew and Lyn Caldwell."

"Good afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell. I'm Michael Thorne. We live five blocks apart. I was only passing by when Donatella saw me."

"Yes, but he said to call him Mitch and we're going to play." Donatella butted in.

"Hello Mitch. Nice to meet you. Dilly, come over here, baby. We're going to have early dinner so we can settle in early, too." The man, obviously Donatella's father, said. "Don't you have somewhere else to go, young man?"

"But we we're going to play, dad!"

The obvious dismissal was certainly understood so I hopped on to Coreen. "My parents are actually waiting for me. Nice to meet you again. I hope you'll find the place nice to stay. Maybe we could have dinner together one day."

"That would be lovely." The elder woman replied.

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