Fiction by Amoafoa Smart

“Do you want to see magic?”

We were in the playground. KG2. I had been standing next to the swings, thinking how I might convince Desmond to let me have a go, having fought with him just 5 minutes earlier. Kofi popped up close to my right ear in the usual annoying way that he did, his breath hot on the side of my face, prompting the tip of my ear to tingle.


He pulled out a visibly damp matchbox – likely from sweat – from his pocket and slid it open to reveal a single match stick.

“I’m going tho eath fire” he lisped, raining spittle on my face.

I didn’t need words to communicate my disbelief or disgust, I just stared at him and in response, he flashed a gummy smile at the challenge. He struck the match at the side of the box, once, twice, four times, until there was a glimmer of a flame which he sheltered with a cupped palm.

“Time for the magic!” he announced and popped the match in his mouth, fire and all, and his eyes glowed with excitement. To my 5 year old mind, it was the flame that had climbed high up into his skull and lit his eyes up. That was the magic of it for me: that the fiery orange had made such an ascension in his face all the way up to his eyes – but that they glowed and did not burn up. The magic wasn’t that when he opened his mouth some seconds later there was no flame, only smoke.


“Do you want to see magic?”

Class 5. End of school. Waiting for Uncle Nick to roll up with the school bus. I had stopped asking “what?” by then – just an exaggerated bored look and he knew to go ahead. He smiled his big smile, dentition intact this time, no teeth stolen by the tooth fairy and thrown up to heaven for long life. He took a 50 pesewa coin from his pocket, pulled out my hand, unfurled the reactionary fist I had made and placed it in the center of my palm.

“Make another fist.” I obliged. “Now open.” I obliged. The coin was there, right where he had left it. I lifted questioning eyes up to him.

“This is just the control experiment, relax.” He locked his lower lip under his upper teeth like he did when he was concentrating really hard, and stretched his arms out to me to show me his empty palms. Then he clenched them and counted to ten. When he unclenched, there was a coin in his and none in mine.

“Ei, you and your distins,” I offered, stunned, but not all the way stunned, and still very determined to seem unimpressed.


“Do you want to see magic?”

That was what the text message read.
“Ah why are you texting me when I’m standing right next to you?” I asked, as I plopped down on a nearby grassy rock to catch my breath. A wooden plaque a few feet ahead spelled, “Mount Kilimanjaro. Congratulations!” A group of hikers huddled in front of it to take selfies.

“Am I not allowed to miss my girlfriend whenever I like? Also I did this hike with you oh, I get a free pass for anything as long as we’re here.” he said dropping down beside me. Kofi may have enjoyed magic tricks, perhaps even magic tricks that involved nature, but that was where his love for anything remotely outdoorsy ended. I had won us two tickets for this trip and given that he had just recently been complaining to me about how he still had 2 weeks of leave left from work that were going to expire soon if he didn’t use them, he had really had no excuses to give.

“Ei you’re still alive; proud of you,” I teased.

“I deserve all kinds of gbrrrs for this,” he returned, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Marry me first ɔdɔ.” I countered, wiggling my eyebrows too.

“Well since you mention it – don’t mind if I do” he said and pulled out a small ring box from the inside zipper of his jacket. Wearing that stupid smile of his that I knew too well, he dropped to a knee and asked, “So Ami, do you want to watch me eat fire forever or nah?”

The other exhausted hikers invited themselves to our intimate moment with wolf-whistling and cheering as I nodded my yes.


“Do you want to see magic?”

Kofi lay on the pristine white sheets, the hours painfully and rapidly melting into the minutes and seconds, and asked this question in his typical way of trying to lighten up moods that are meant to stay heavy. His smile was still toothy, but that and his now-dry humor were all that were familiar. The cancer had shrunk him – reduced his big personality to a small human mass that could barely warm up the sheets. I took his limp hand in mine, and watched him struggle to hold my eyes in the delirium of the pain meds he was so chock full of.

When his eyes finally fluttered shut, I waited for the magic trick – for them to fly open again and for the EKG to resume its regular beep. I did not like this trick. I did not like that only he got to experience the magic of the other side, and that I was left with his question hanging in the air – not because I was contemplating it, but because the answer was beyond me, carried into the afterlife together with the one I loved.

Amoafoa-Smart describes herself as storytelling book hoarder collector, and a lover of love. She regularly blogs about books and writing, and can often be found in the comments section of anything that features Dadju.

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