had told me to make the most of this period of gluttony, as I'd
probably never get the chance again.'
I remember those
days fondly. It was very much the end of an era, things were slowing
down, coming to their logical conclusions. Fenchurch always seemed to
be one step ahead and told me what to expect during our regular meetings
at the Small Hours Cafe. Food was usually at the top of the agenda and
we would gorge ourselves on whatever delicacy was in season at the time,
washing it down with copious amounts of coffee to keep ourselves awake.
Fenchurch had told me to make the most of this period of gluttony, as
I'd probably never get the chance again. When asked to explain he usually
became all vague and changed the subject. Gradually, though, he loosened
up and began to speak more and more of "the life to come".
I could never work out if this was meant to be a religious reference
or a more general statement about our changing circumstances.
Soon after our friendship started the council transferred me to a flat
at the top of a tower block. As my weight increased I began to get lethargic
and found it harder and harder to keep up our meetings. Fenchurch, of
course, had predicted this and didn't seem too disappointed although
he exuded a barely repressed air of melancholy which seemed somehow
related to our dwindling time together.
Eventually, the time came when I decided I could no longer leave the
flat and lived mainly on home-delivery pizzas and curries. Fenchurch
came to visit me only once during this period, something he described
as a "parting shot". Again, he didn't go into specifics but
seemed to imply that I was on the verge of a great new adventure. In
my grossly obese and fatigued state I found this very hard to believe.
I remember the last time I went to sleep as if it was only yesterday.
My dreams that night were oceanic, as if my mind was travelling through
vast depths of uncharted underwater canyons.
The next morning, I felt better and fitter than I'd ever been. Looking
in the mirror, I saw that I was somehow young again and had undergone
a dramatic change in appearance. Instinctively, I went into the living
room and out onto the small concrete balcony. Sitting on the railing,
I dangled my legs over the edge and looked at the people below, many
of whom, like Fenchurch, would sadly never experience what I was about
Gingerly, I eased myself off the ledge.
I flexed my wings, feeling the blood surging to fill the newly-formed
arteries. Papillonia spread out all around me : a magnificent tableau
of new perspectives.
One Rowena the Magical
was a beautiful young woman who lived at number Eleventy Seven,
Windmill Lane, in the village of Ob, far to the north of the World.
She had three beautiful sisters, each beautiful in their own way
and each with a special skill, which they enjoyed and put to good
The oldest sister loved to cook and would spend hours in the kitchen
preparing mouth-watering meals and scrumptious snacks for family
The second sister
delighted in dressmaking and provided the whole family with a wide selection
of clothes to wear throughout the year as well as selling some to the
The third sister was a born singer and would entertain the whole village
at festival times with her haunting ballads and love songs.
But Rowena had not found her special skill. Most of all she loved to
read. She would often sneak into Grandfather Babus secret library,
which was inside the deserted old windmill at the top of the lane. Babu
had long since disappeared in mysterious circumstances leaving behind
a collection of strange old books. Most of them were in languages Rowena
didnt understand, but she managed to read some of them and in
this way she gained knowledge about the rest of the world which none
of the other villagers knew. She would regale them with stories of fantastical
palaces, exquisite cities and magical animals. Of course none of them
believed her and said that it was time she got married and forgot about
her fanciful ideas. For Rowena was very pretty and, having a kind heart
and lively mind, had attracted the attentions of the finest young bachelors
in the village. Many of them had come to her father to ask for her hand
in marriage but she had refused each time, using a number of excuses.
However, she usually said that she was not ready for marriage nor did
she find the prospect of domestic duties very exciting.
Not knowing what else to do with her, Rowenas father persuaded
her to help him in his work. He was an herbalist, expert in concocting
natural medicines to heal the villagers common ailments. For a
while Rowena was happy with the work. But she soon grew bored of it
and started inventing her own potions from recipes she found in her
Grandfathers books. It soon became apparent, however, that Rowenas
new treatments quite often didnt have the desired effects. One
old man had bought a balm to darken his grey hair but instead found
it turned him invisible! He had spent the whole day as a disembodied
voice. His poor family thought he had turned into a ghost until evening
time when, thankfully, the effects wore off. Others complained of becoming
lighter than air, being suddenly able to see through walls or understand
the language of animals. Though these effects were certainly interesting
what the villagers really wanted were cures for things like fever and
backache. Besides, these unexpected side effects quite often made the
recipients feel as if they were going mad, not a feeling that the simple
village folk particularly wanted to experience.
Finally Rowenas father had had enough.
"What are we going to do with you," he asked her, "or
more to the point, what do you want to do?"
Luckily, Rowena had already made up her mind. Without hesitation she
said: "I want to be a wizard!"
© Tariq Adam, 2003
If you want more, email Tariq.
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