magic

We were old friends catching up on one another’s lives. I’d been recounting how exceptionally fortunate I’ve been over the years.


"I have a guardian angel," I said.


"How do you square being an Atheist with having a guardian angel?" he asked. "And how is it you have one, and I, a good Christian lad, do not?"


"It seems a contradiction, doesn’t it, me having a guardian angel, but, near as I can tell, mine is a secular angel—no wings, no religious affiliations."


"Then how do you explain her?" he asked "Where does she come from? How can you be sure you’re not just a statistical anomaly, that your good fortune isn’t any more than good luck?"


"I can’t. Nor can I understand, if it’s more than that, why she’d choose to look out for me, of all people."


"She clearly likes a challenge."


"I’ve certainly given her that, haven’t I."


"You have."


"I dreamt once that I was to pick 6 numbers for the lottery by letting them pick themselves. I was to imagine the numbers 1 through 40 suspended, cloud-like, in the air and, one at a time, was to let each of the 6 numbers reveal itself by floating away from the others. I was not to influence the process in any way—I was to be nothing more than an observer. Which wasn’t easy. Took me a couple of dozen tries before I had 6 numbers I felt had separated from the others with no push from me."


"And did it work?"


"The first time I played the numbers, no. But then I played them again and, guess what. I had 5 of the 6 numbers. I couldn’t believe it. My dream, it seemed, had been more than just a dream."


"I assume, given your present circumstances, it never worked again."


"I never tried it again."


"Why?"


"I was afraid it wouldn’t work. I wanted to go on believing."


"Believing what?"


"In magic, I guess, same as you—a different magic, that’s all. And when it turns out we’re both wrong, it won’t matter much, will it—we’ll both be dead."


"Well, you will be, anyway."