Black Petals Issue #92, Summer, 2020

Magical Perspective

BP Artist's Page
Mars-Chris Friend
Misty Page-A Game of Chess
Sean M. Carey-Chilled Bones Under Lovely Skin
Roy Dorman-Death in the Round Room, Part IV
Lael Braday-Magical Perspective
Matt Spangler-Master Smasher
Lena Abou-Khalil-The Nowhere Man
Grace Sielinski-'Port
Gavin McGarvey-The Black Petals
Marc Dickerson-Theater is Dead
C. S. Harbold-The Whispering
Dean Patrick-Vincent's Warning
Doug Park-We Get Him Together
Joseph Hurtgen-Worlds to Conquer
Mickie Bolling-Burke-The Bringer of Darkness
Aaron Hicks-The Last Days
Cindy Rosmus-Out of Juice
Matthew Wilson-Endless Men's Hate
Michael Steven-Hell Rift
Sean Goulding-Hypnagogic
David C. Kopaska-Merkel-In the Land of Giants
Loris John Fazio-The Thing in the Woods
Loris John Fazio-The Beggar Knows
Richard Stevenson-Peg Leg
Richard Stevenson-The Alkali Lake Monster
Richard Stevenson-The Green Man

Art by A.F.Knott 2020

Magical Perspective

Lael Braday


Inching closer to the front of the line at the ice cream shop, Sarah envisioned her day in the sun. She’d been drawn to this beach her whole life. Resistance had finally worn through, and here she was, waiting to get two scoops of rainbow ice cream in a waffle cone to savor as she strolled the boardwalk. The Drifters’ paean to summer romance filled her head until it overflowed into a low hum, “Under the boardwalk, we’ll be having some fun...” as she considered whether such an opportunity would present itself on her mini-vacation.

 Three steps closer and the dingy red smudge on the wall beside the cash register slowly formed hazy letters, obliterating her daydream. Knowing the message was for her, Sarah took another step forward as the sentence asserted itself in brighter red—james kastle raped mariann growerman. “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” she mumbled, expecting to shatter like glass at a touch, calming herself with the obsolete playground taunt whenever she found the truths of her life in the world. Her biological parents were no longer a complete mystery to her.

 “Next!” yelled the cashier, handing a waffle cone to the previous customer. He followed Sarah’s gaze to the red smudge above the register. “You’re seeing something right here, aren’t you? Something bad happened right here. I knew it.” He turned to the employee scooping ice cream. “I told you so. This place got bad juju. I knew it. Lookit this lady, Darryl.”

 Darryl came and stood next to the cashier, scoop dangling from his hand, eyes wide and mouth open, both observing Sarah repeat her mantra.

 The older lady behind Sarah leaned forward and quietly said, “Take your time, sweetheart, let me know if I can help.” With a hand on her mouth and furrowed brow, she too watched.

 Sarah breathed in through her nose and slowly out her mouth four times before stepping to the cash register. In a clear voice, she asked for her favorite, “Two rainbow scoops in a waffle cone, please.”


 page 478                  World War III: The First War Fought with Magic


          McHiller created controversy by introducing black magic into the battle, urging lawmakers to limit the use of magical weapons for pure evil, evil being loosely defined as a legal term. Remaining aspects of McHiller’s psychological attacks through the black arts continue to this day, dispersing globally like a corporeal virus. Scientists have yet to determine exactly what it is, how it spreads, and how to control it.


          Head of University of Fatheon’s Wiccan Science Department Stephan Ottenber explains, “It’s as though everyone’s story is written down in the world, but only that person can see it, and no one has control over when and where. It can be highly traumatic, as witnessed by the growing psychiatric industry. We’re still searching for answers.”


          McHiller showed no remorse for his actions up to his death in August, 2147. The Magical Influence Federal Team, or MIFT, took over his estate and secured his papers for public safety, stating that nothing significant had been discovered in his works to explain or reverse McHiller’s spell. Their only concession to public scrutiny was a press release of a photograph of an unusually large pen and the cryptic words, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” MIFT remains quiet on the subject.


Ariana placed the final photo, the 1,000-year-old oak at Subora Arboretum, in the long line of last year’s set, winding from the front door through the labyrinthine gallery to the exit door at the left of the entryway.

 As she finished, Leslie entered from the backroom, clasped her hands, and told her, “Congratulations on another beautiful setup. Are you ready for tonight?”

 “Absolutely! I love the headiness of opening night. It makes me want to ravish you right in the middle of the front room,” Ariana’s voice dropped to a stage whisper, “So all the art lovers and random passersby can witness my love.”

 “Your lust, you mean.” Leslie winked at her and kissed her. She turned to the ancient oak photo. “And you can see part of your story in this?”

 “Yes, it says—"

 “No, no, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know about you from magic spells. I want to learn everything from you directly.”

Ariana wrapped her arms around Leslie, kissing the back of her neck, their arms intertwined across Leslie’s chest.

 “It amazes me how the writing is so specific to people. I mean, I hardly ever see any of mine. It’s so disappointing.”

“Sorry. You know, I could actually write down my life history from my photos. But then it’s already all written, isn’t it?”

 “True,” Leslie responded. “I love your work. Even without seeing the words, the photographs are fascinating. They draw you in, urging speculation. They’re so mysterious, like you.”

 “You, my loveliness, are an open book.”

 “Gah, that’s so crass.”

 “Truth hurts.”

 Leslie stepped out of Ariana’s embrace and led her by the hand to the backroom.

Art by A. F. Knott 2020

Lael Braday wants to live in the Dun Laoighaire, Ireland, library, with its art gallery, history museum, symphony hall, cafe, and flower garden. Her work finds homes in fantastic anthologies while she works on a speculative short story collection. She is the only Lael Braday on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Connect with her on her website

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