Josef tries to tell a story


1844

‘Once upon a time magic was everywhere,’ Josef whispered, hunching over the table. ‘In the streets, the shops, in the home. Magic casters saved lives science could not, supernaturals didn’t hide, and people called upon gods who took human form, like Jax’s mother, Freyja.’

‘Is Miss Jax like Jesus?’ Mary asked around a mouthful of chocolate cake.

‘What?’ He straightened slightly.

‘Jesus’s daddy was God and his mummy was human, like Miss Jax but other way.’ She poked at her cake with a spoon getting crumbs and chocolate everywhere.

‘Jesus was a prophet, not the son of God,’ Josef said.

‘Mummy says he was.’ She frowned. ‘Don’t Catholic and Jewish peoples agree on that either?’

Bran rubbed his face to hide a smile, it was quite funny to see a little child thinking deep thoughts while covered in chocolate.

‘No,’ Josef said and wiped chocolate off her nose.

‘I don’t know how you and Mummy agree on anything.’

Edward brandished his chocolate covered spoon at me. It was all over his face, even on his forehead. ‘Tasty. Want some?’

I bent close to his spoon. ‘I might eat it all up. Nomnomnom.’

‘No.’ He pulled his spoon away and shook his head. ‘My cake.’ He went back to digging at it with the spoon.

‘Because,’ Josef said, ‘whatever people believe it’s what’s in here that’s important.’ He poked her chest gently. ‘Our stories might be different but our hearts are the same.’

‘That’s truly beautiful, Josef,’ Bran said through smothered laughter at Edward’s attacks on his cake, he seemed to have decided mashing it up was more fun than eating it.

Millie rolled her eyes. Merry wiped her face with a napkin and gave me a look that implied Edward needed cleaning up a bit.

‘I think,’ Mary said. ‘You agree with Mummy ‘cause she’s boss. So’s doesn’t matter what Mummy thinks of God ‘cause she has best ideas.’

Edward squirmed and giggled as I wiped at the chocolate on his face and hands, I had no idea how he managed to get it everywhere, including down his front.

‘Wasn’t my idea to come here a good one?’ Josef asked.

‘Mummy’s still boss.’ She returned to her cake.

Bran chuckled.

‘Daddy didn’t finish the story,’ Merry said.

Josef cleared his throat and took up his dramatic story pose. ‘But humans got jealous of the power of magic. They blamed it for all the bad things in the world. They said it was evil and had to be purged from the world. The Catholic Church declared war on magic so magic hide itself from the human world. Wander deep enough into the caves and tunnels or find the lost cities and towns and if you’re very quiet and know how to look, there you’ll find magic.’

‘With adult supervision,’ I added. ‘No looking for magic without one of us.’

‘Obviously,’ Mary said. ‘We’d need Mummy ‘cause she sees magic. Be silly going without Mummy.’

Millie coughed. At least one of our children understood sneaking into haunted houses without one of us wasn’t a good idea. I wasn’t sure if it counted as a success as it was only one of them.

‘It would be like going to fight a dragon without a sword,’ Mary said.

‘Water,’ Edward said.

Mary frowned at him.

‘Put out fires.’ He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. ‘An’ cool down. Dragons got be hot. Maybe share water with them and become best friends.’

Mary considered this. ‘Might be a better plan to get to ride a dragon.’ She patted Edward’s head. ‘Good, Babby.’

Edward grinned. ‘I’m clever.’

‘Yes, you are,’ I said, eyeing the chocolate that had appeared in his hair, I’d only just got it off his face.

He gave me a chocolatey hug and kiss.

‘Can we look at the shinies next?’ Mary said. ‘I think they’re magic globes for looking at the future.’

‘I’m not sure I’d want to see the future,’ Bran said. ‘Life only just became less predictable.’

‘Miss Jax says her auntie is going to have a babby, will she let us play with it?’ Mary asked.

‘She can’t have me,’ Edward said.

‘Not you, silly a different babby. A littler one.’

Edward burst into tears. ‘Don’t want go!’

I lifted him onto my lap. ‘Poor little babby-boo.’

‘Stay, Muma.’

‘Jax’s auntie can’t have you, you’re my babby,’ I said, rocking him.

It was Mary’s turn to burst into tears. ‘Didn’t mean it.’ So Bran lifted her onto his lap.

‘We know,’ he said, wiping her face.

‘Mary meant Jax’s auntie is having a new baby,’ I said.

‘Where get a new babby from?’ Edward asked.

Bran and I looked at each other.

Josef stroked Edward’s head. ‘Parents wish very hard and if they wish hard enough they find a baby under a gooseberry bush.’

I looked at him.

Edward sniffled and thought about it. ‘Whats if there’s not no gosgog bushes?’

‘Rhubarb will do, or a hedge,’ Josef said.

‘But how Miss Jax’s auntie know if the baby isn’t there yet?’

‘Obviously, you get a note so you know to go and look,’ Josef said. I had to grant him, he was quick.

‘Sos, she won’t steal me?’ Edward asked.

‘No-one will still our babby away from us.’ I kissed his forehead. ‘Never, ever.’

He looked up at me. ‘An’ if they try you beat them up?’

‘Yes, I would.’

‘Sorry, Mary.’ He climbed over to squeeze onto Bran’s lap with her and gave her a hug. ‘Got confuzzed.’

She sniffled and hugged him back. ‘Not sharing my babby brother with no-one. Never.’

Jax arrived at the table, weighed down with bags, as if she’d been watching from afar waiting for the palaver to die down. I hadn’t been paying attention when I should’ve been.

‘That’s sweet,’ she said. ‘Not to worry anyone but I might’ve upset a market stall holder by implying his products were substandard. There could be goons. I can handle it if there is but you might want to keep an eye out.’

Josef rose. ‘Point me in the direction of goons. I like a good goon.’ He stooped and gave me a kiss.

‘Take care and rise your mouth out afterwards,’ I said.

He grinned. ‘I’m sure it won’t come to that.’

‘Teaming up with The…’ Jax glanced at Josef. ‘With Josef Mathers, I’m not going to miss that.’

I sat back as Josef followed Jax the way she had come.

Millie gave me a look as if to ask why she couldn’t go and I gave her a look right back. Josef didn’t mind the children seeing him intimidate people, eating them was another matter. It could get messy.


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Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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