Braden Madison kicked angrily at the grass. “Come ON. The stupid circle’s supposed to do it!” He inspected the mushroom circle in which he stood. No inky caps. Almost a perfect circle. Half in shadow and half in light. And all of the mushrooms stood at least one inch high and no more than three inches.
This was what the book said. Every time his mom took him shopping over the last year, since he turned ten, he had pleaded to be allowed to go into Da Books by Da Vinci. The store seemed like it had just appeared overnight a couple years ago. He fell in love with the images of faeries that dotted the front windows and all of the walls. Then, the first time he went in, he found out that there was magic in the world.
No, really, real magic. Da Vinci’s specialized in old books and complete collections of encyclopedias.
Braden never saw anyone even touch one of the thousands of encyclopedias Da Vinci’s had.
But that first time in the store, he found a shelf called ‘Facere Magicka’ and discovered real magic! That had to mean ‘Fairy Magic’ in English—he was sure of it. He had found all kinds of strange spells with bizarre ingredients that he had trouble understanding, but all of those spell books had referred to the definitive work called Artes Arcanás Toscano Tortello.
Arcane! That totally meant magic. So Braden had dug around for that book, but Da Vinci’s didn’t have it. So he Googled it and finally found a rare book store on Charing Cross Road in London, England who said they had it. After more than a month of communication, Braden had saved enough allowance to buy the book.
The greatest magic book in the world.
He didn’t speak spell, but he knew he was onto something when he found the spell for shrinking things.
The main ingredient was mushrooms. And the picture had them in a circle, so here he stood.
What was wrong?
“This has to work!” Braden closed his eyes. He was pretty sure he had figured out how to pronounce the words. And he held a long stick with a wide, flat end. Everything was in place.
He slowed his breathing and sought a connection with the world of the fantastic. “Come to me faeries!” Braden intoned. He swirled his hands in complex patterns, drawing what he imagined were symbols of power with his wooden wand.
And now for the incantation.
“Affettare i funghi/ soffriggere in olio d’oliva/ cospargere con pancetta…” he took a deep breath, and with a great flourish and flinging his hands out, cried, “Servire caldo!”
He waited for five heartbeats, his hands and face raised to the sky. Bring on the magic! Dizziness suddenly struck Braden and he had to step backwards to keep from falling over. This was it! Something was happening! He opened his eyes, regained the center of the circle and began to turn in a circle, scanning his family’s back yard.
He had felt it! Or at least felt something! What had he shrunk?
Braden remained in the center of the circle but scoured the yard carefully. The house was still the same size, as was the shiny grill Dad polished every night. Come on, there has to be something.
His attention turned toward the ground. Maybe the wand had been pointed down at just the wrong moment. Still turning in a tight circle, he soon found it. A mushroom had been struck by the spell and was now much smaller.
“I knew it would work!” Braden said. He had to tell his family and friends. He would even tell Eli Hamblin, that kid who had just gotten home from doing work for his church in Rome, Italy.
Braden pelted across the yard, remembered, and ran back to pickup his spell book. He rounded to the front of the house and saw Eli Hamblin coming out of the Hamblin house. It was the same color as the pea soup his mom insisted on making twice a year.
“Eli! It worked, I did magic!” Braden brandished his wand at Eli. “I shrank a mushroom!
Eli grinned and approached Braden. He cocked his head at the book Braden held. “Nice work, Braden!”
Braden flushed with pride.
“Can I see your book!”
Braden handed Eli the book.
“Oh wow,” Eli said. “Braden, I didn’t know you liked to cook!