Jenny eyed the gold chain around her grandma’s neck. At the end of it, she knew, was the key to grandma’s secret room, and to the secret itself. Tucking into the strawberry dessert, she noticed the twinkle in gran’s blue eyes.
“Still wishing, dear? I can’t see why it’s so important to you. There’s nothing magical in there, I promise.” She said, unconvincingly.
Despite a mouthful of food, Jenny blurted out
“Then why can’t I look, gran? Mum told me you had magic powers. Isn’t eight old enough to be shown what she meant?”
Grandma chuckled, in response. She was about to answer when the cheery voice of her daughter Sue, called from the back door.
“Are you finished, yet, Jen? It’s time we were going home.”
The girl sighed as she got up. She’d come close, this time, but mum had ruined it. Grandma spoke, as Sue entered the kitchen.
“What have you been telling her? Magical powers indeed! No wonder she’s so keen to see that room.”
Jenny went to the toilet, and when she was out of earshot, Sue replied
“It’s true, isn’t it? You were good, in your day, but swearing me to secrecy meant she got the wrong end of the stick. Have you lost the gift?”
Gran’s face reddened, and when Jenny came back in, grandma’s hand, on her shoulder, made her turn to face the old lady.
“OK, Jenny. Tell you what. I’ll set you a puzzle. It’s Sunday today. If you come up with the right answer by next Saturday, I’ll let you into my secret.”
Jenny grinned, delighted, and would have yelled out, but gran’s finger was pressed against her lips, as the old woman continued.
“I want you to find me a fifteen letter word which describes the things your mum says I can do. Starts with P and ends with N. You’ve got till six in the evening, next Saturday. Go find your friends and get searching!”
Jenny rushed out of the house with a whoop of joy, grandma smiling after her. Sue looked worried, and she said
“Are you sure, after all this time?”
Grandma looked really bright and cheerful as she replied.
“Of course I’m sure, but I’ll have to start practising right away. Don’t want to turn any of them into frogs, by accident!”
Both women laughed heartily at this comment, then Sue made her way home.
Jenny had rushed to find her gang. It was no wonder that she was their leader. Anyone who had a ‘witch’ for a grandma deserved total respect, and Jenny certainly got that. OK, her gang was three girls and two boys, all nine or ten, but they were a good crowd.
“So that’s the challenge.” She declared. “We’ll have to work hard”. They all nodded in agreement. Number one priority for this job! Jerry, the older of the boys, piped up.
“Let’s get down to the den and talk it over. The answer can’t be that hard to find.”
They all dashed off. This would be so easy!
By Thursday, Sue was feeling sorry for Jenny. Enthusiasm had become smouldering frustration , because no matter how hard she’d tried, the elusive ‘magic’ word hadn’t been found. Her shoulders were sagging as much as her face.
“It’s hopeless!” Jenny cried. “We’ve tried everything, but I’m beginning to think we’ll never find it!”
“Eat your meal, and let’s put our heads together” Said Sue
I told you that gran did magic when I was young, and that’s a clue. I borrowed an Encarta dictionary from the library. If we go through it together, perhaps we’ll have some luck Doesn’t the word start with P?”
Jenny perked up. After an hour, she excitedly pointed at a page, shrieking
“I think this is it, but how on earth would you pronounce that?”
“Say it as it sounds, I think. Let’s see – Press – tee –did – gee – tay – shun! That sounds right.” Said Sue, with a wide grin.
Grandma was so pleased when Jenny appeared on the Saturday, her gang in tow. After she’d given them all some coke and biscuits, she turned to Jenny, a serious look on her face, and said.
“Well? You know the deal. You have to pronounce the word, properly, and know what it means. Can you do that?”
“You bet!” cried Jenny proudly “ It’s prestidigitation, and it means a kind of magic.”
Grandma smiled happily, as she led the way to the mystery door. Edie Dove, illusionist supreme, would once again delight a captive audience, and Jenny would forever be proud that she’d been the one to finally unlock grandma’s secret.
I have been writing for pleasure for half a century, but only started writing for money around 1994. Since then I have had a few thousand articles, stories and poems published on line and in print all round the world.
I am now 63 years old, male, from Burnley in the UK, and apart from writing, I love to read - mainly crime thrillers, conspiracy theory books and science fiction, though I also love films, gardening and chatting with my wife who is also my best friend.
I enjoy feedback from readers, and interaction with fellow writers. Anyone who gets in touch with me will get a reply. I am always happy to read and comment upon the work of others, as I think we writers are something of a definite sub-species of humanity!