My neck beads with sweat, and the sun beats down onto my scalp. I’ve just climbed out of the car, but my clothes already stick to my body and uncomfortable cold flashes buzz up and down my spine. The hotel is nearly deserted, and I don’t know whether it has to do with the heat or the fact that I’m in the middle of nowhere.
I’m lying on the mattress now, feet dangling over the edge, springs digging into my back. The curtains are drawn but a sliver of light still falls across my stomach. My earbuds are slick with sweat but I use them regardless, letting the music drown out the almost eerie silence. Soon, the golden light melts into copper and then fades away, leaving me engulfed in darkness. My heart trembles in my rib cage, and I can feel it from the tips of my toes to my ears. My chest rises and falls with each breath, and it feels like I’m part of an audience, sitting in a cinema, or perhaps a sort of ethereal being, peering down from above.
I take another shuddering breath, clear away the cobwebs that have settled in my limbs and eyes, and sit up, exposing my feet to the now cool air. The music fades out of my ears and, when I look down at my phone, I realize it’s because the screen is black and dead. My guitar sits in the corner, shrouded in shadows. I clutch it in my hands as I walk outside. Everything is still — no breeze, no movement, just me. The sky seems even more vast in the dark, perforated with hundreds of stars. The moon is dilated and glowing with a seemingly supernatural light, and it leaves me breathless. I sit on the ground and take out my guitar, letting the pads of my fingers strum the strings.
My words are italicized and hanging in the air. In that moment, it doesn’t matter if my fingers only skim one string or if my voice cracks, because the moon is dangling in the sky and the desert is thrumming with a silent melody.
It was a new feeling, a wave of cool tranquility settling in the depths of my stomach. A feeling that became unattainable when we drove away the next morning. A feeling that only happens once.
That feeling, that moment, my guitar, they are all sacred now; a figurative shrine shoved into one of the boxes in the attic of my mind. That moment was a glimpse into something I don’t yet understand, something “magical.” It showed me the world is not just about what I’ve already seen — it’s so much larger and more beautiful than anything we can observe while we are sitting in our homes staring at computer screens.
When we consider the topic of magic, we often think of the extraordinary, of witchcraft and wizardry, of the supernatural. But now, when my mind drifts to magic, I don’t think about the paranormal. I think about the more mundane yet equally astounding magic that manifests in the barely there whine of electricity at night, or in the beauty and power of the stars.
The word “magic” means “an extraordinary power or influence.” This definition does not solely apply to fantasy and our imaginations but to nature and other complex things that the human race strives to comprehend. I believe that magic is embodied by the things around us that we have yet to understand.
Lila Hazan is a 15-year-old high school sophomore. She lives in New York City. Her favorite things to do are write free form poetry and play soccer.
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