Just a Little Magic

This is the tale of Cecilia Ramos, who never figured out she was mildly psychic.

Strictly speaking, ‘psychic’ is a garbage term that umbrellas so many different types of mental abilities as to make it quite useless. A mind reader and a medium could both be called psychic, and if you asked, for example, the medium to tell you what you were thinking about they would balk. They would have very strong words. They might, if they were feeling particularly feisty and boozy toward the end of an Afterlife Convention after party at the nearby Thank Goodness for Saturday restaurant, throw their drink down and ask the wife of their rival if she wanted to step outside.

But this isn’t the story of Glen Grabowski from Milwaukee. This is about Cecilia Ramos, from North Lurleen, Texas, whose great-grandfather was a trickster god. No one knew, certainly not Cecilia. No, Cecilia was a God-fearing woman, and to even suggest the existence of little-g gods was blasphemous. To suggest she was descended from one was outright foolishness.

There never came a day where Cecilia learned the truth. The adventure she wished for as a young girl, where a captivating swashbuckler in tight leather pants and a Castilian accent showed up at her door to whisk her away to never ending nights of daring and intrigue, were closer than she ever could have imagined. There’s always adventure available for those who possess magic, especially if you’re not married to the details. But if you don’t know you possess magic? If you never know? Well, then, enjoy your life in North Lurleen with your husband and your in-laws and your three kids.

And Cecilia did. Every minute of it. No small thanks to the magic she didn’t even know was there. She had the power of precognition, the ability to see the future. Only the power was so weak, she really only had the ability to get the general sense of the future, and only some of the time. And it was easy enough to explain away. Coincidence, usually, or just perhaps paying more attention than she realized.

For instance, there was the time Cecilia was grocery shopping. It was the middle of the week and she had thought if she went to the grocery store a few hours before she usually did she would avoid Sheila Martin, that gabby snake who always seemed to be able to draw gossip out of Cecilia whether she wanted to share or not (Sheila Martin held no magic, she was just a bitch). But there Sheila was, hovering in front of the pile of tomatoes, seemingly waiting for someone from PTA to show up so she could follow them through the store like some chittering magpie. While distracted by Sheila and attempting to keep what few secrets she had to herself, Cecilia Ramos reached out and picked up a big box of large band aids, the largest size they had.

“And what are those for?” Sheila had asked, sensing a hot dish.

But Cecilia had looked at the box of band aids in her cart and couldn’t find an answer. And almost put them back. Almost. She just couldn’t do it. Sheila went home fuming, thinking Cecilia had managed to hold out on her, and Cecilia had pulled in the driveway just in time to see her oldest son Carlos launch his bike off the ramp he had made and fly directly into the mailbox. And in all the excitement of picking him and bringing him to the bathroom and running the bath and cleaning his knees, Cecilia forgot entirely that the band aids had been nothing more than an impulse.

There was one time she perhaps almost noticed that there was something off, and this was when she was fifty-six. Her youngest son, Henry, had been home from college for the summer and going into the city for a concert with his friends. Most of Cecilia’s attention had been on her knitting – the thread just wasn’t cooperating with the needle – when he kissed her on the cheek and headed for the door. Without thinking, words had come out of Cecilia’s mouth.

“Have fun. Stay safe. Don’t take the express rail home tonight, it’s going to crash.”

And Henry has said, “What?”

And Cecilia had looked up at him and blinked. “What?”

Henry, hand on the front door knob, stared at her. “You just said the express rail is going to crash tonight.”

“Tsh. No, I didn’t,” Cecilia had said. She honestly hadn’t remembered, even though it had only just happened. To be frank, she hadn’t even realized she had been talking to Henry at all.

“But you did. You said, ‘Don’t take the express rail home tonight, it’s going to crash.’”

Cecilia had opened her mouth to say how ridiculous that was. Only it hadn’t felt ridiculous. In fact, it had felt seriously, terrifyingly true. But how could it be? She couldn’t just know such a thing, could she?

Henry had still been staring at her, waiting for her to explain herself. His fear had been that his mother had just some kind of temporary stroke.

“I must have seen a crash on television earlier,” she had said. She hadn’t even been watching television that day. But that must have been it.

Henry had seen nothing else wrong with his mother, and had been increasingly worried about missing the express rail into the city, so he had left the matter and the house and not thought about it again. At least until it had been time to come home, at which point Henry had gotten onto the local instead of the express without even hesitating. It had taken him forty minutes longer to get home than if he had taken the express. But, if he had taken the express, he never would have gotten home at all because his mother had been right.

Cecilia had been watching the news that night, and when they broke into a cute story about a local dog who had learned to surf to announce that the train had crashed, she hadn’t panicked in the slightest. Because just like she had someone knew the crash would occur, she knew her son had gotten on the local. And for the next twenty-two minutes, before Henry came through the door, she sat and stared at the television without seeing it. And wondered.

This isn’t a story about an old woman realizing she’s ‘psychic’ and starting to use it for good, though. She wondered that night, and that night only. By the morning she had decided it had been God who had saved her son and never thought about it again. It was the only thing that had made sense. Henry would keep wondering, start noticing little things his mother seemed to know when she shouldn’t. But Henry was a good son, and knew bringing it up would only upset her. So Cecilia Ramos lived for forty more years and died peacefully in her bed at ninety-six and never once truly knew of the old magic that ran through her veins.

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