Magic In Odd Places


I got a new handbag for Christmas, so a few days after the holiday, I sat down to clean out my old bag and switch over to the new one.  I moved the wallet, the phone, the iPod and the notebook.  I dug out all the pens that still worked, slipped them into the little pockets designed just for pens.  Pretty soon I was down to the bits of fluff that everyone accumulates over time – cough drop wrappers, cracker crumbs, stray earring backs, pennies I never put into a change purse, and so on.  I turned the bag over and dumped it all out on the table, just to be sure there was nothing important lost in the fluff before I threw it all away…and suddenly I had an idea for a story.  The detritus ceased to be garbage, and became something special.

Sometimes magic is lurking in the oddest of places.  We’re all used to magic wands and crystal balls, tarot cards and cauldrons, but what if you could find magic in a comb?  Or a pencil?  Even a torn envelope?  Fantasy went through a fairly long time after Tolkien in which the desired magic item was something beautiful and unmistakable, hidden in a box or cave or tomb so obvious it really wasn’t much of a hiding place at all.  These days readers are hoping for something different in their stories.  And you have to admit, it’s exciting to discover magic in a seemingly ordinary object, something that could lie unused and ignored for years.  It would be so much more difficult for a questing hero to find the McGuffin of Might if it’s a tarnished tie tack that hasn’t been taken out of the wizard’s jewel box in forty years.  Or what if he had to dig through a land fill to find the Broom of Predestination? 

Just for fun, let’s create some magic objects out of the junk laying around the house.   Take a look in your junk drawer, or in the back of the pantry shelf or under the fridge.  What did you find?  What can it do?  And how do you make it work?  Let’s have a little fun!


25 comments to Magic In Odd Places

  • I couldn’t find my keys, After thirty minutes of searching, I shouted “Where are my keys!” only to find them on the table, instantly. (I had already looked there.) It happened again the next day when I lost my wallet. I screamed out loud at the walls that I wanted my wallet, and it showed up right in front of me on a bookshelf as soon as I said it. I picked it up and looked around, wondering how it got there.

    Staring at me from across the room was my cat.

  • *laughs* Green, my husband and I have long believed that there’s a team of people who paint in reality around us, then erase it when we’re done, and it’s their fault the keys are never where we left them. 😀

  • Heck, with my housekeeping skills (or lack thereof), there could be all manner of magical artifacts lurking in corners. This is a fun thing to think about though. I once thought up an entire line of ever-full containers, just in case I needed something ridiculous to give a player in a fantasy RPG campaign. 😉 I could see something like that in the back of the fridge. That stuff you get out and use now and again that you can’t find an expiration date on but it never seems to go bad or get any lower that you can tell.

    Most likely for me, I get business cards from various Cons and shops I find interesting and want to look up and as a result my wallet gets stuffed full of random cards, old insurance info, etc (I’m horrible about that). I could very well see something getting lost in there and during one of my rare purges, finding one that says, “Space-Time Curios: Your Doorway to Adventure” and not remembering where it came from. On the back it says simply, “Tear to redeem.” And just because I’m sorta snarky that way, I’d tear it in half thinking to make a joke and toss it in the trash. A flash of light. Disorientation. And I’m off on some great quest or other while trying to find the doorway to get back home.

  • Misty, if the trash in the bottom of my pocketbook was magical I’d be rich. I’m scared to look that deep, however, so I’ll never know.

    But you got me thinking. I vacuumed under the dual recliner in the writing room last night, and I found a round-ish, lightweight … thing. Brown with slight irregularities. With a free-range lizard running about the writing room, it could be the remains of its last meal. But it could also have been something magical left by the magic lizard for me to find and discover how to use. I mean the lizard appeared by magic. Right? Okay, story about magical lizards perking in the back of my brain.

  • I have an old belt — one of those nylon ones the with the simple plastic buckle — that has Grateful Dead dancing bears on it. What if every time I put it on, I could be transported back to whatever Dead concert I wanted to see?

  • The chip clip of doom — you know, the one with the magnet on the side, so you can keep it on the fridge if you want. It can hold any two items and share their physical properties between the objects. Including, of course, the fingers of magicians brave enough to clip themselves together…

  • sagablessed

    I have an old toothbrush. Everytime I used it, it rained the next day.
    Things that make you go “Hmmmmm”.

  • […] a rousing pirate fantasy novel, and poster on Magical Words, had a blog post today dealing with Magic in Odd Places. In other words, things not the normal mythical McGuffin in the treasure hoard of FlimFalaminous, […]

  • Had a little more fun with this exercise on my blog if anyone wants to check it out. 🙂

  • Mikaela

    We have a clock at our summer house. Everytime my mom replace the batteries, it takes two hours and then it is lagging. We joke that it lives its own life. And then, one day, I wondered: What if the lagging was caused by spirits? What if there had been a fashion of imbuing spirits into clocks, turning them into watchdogs?

    Which blossomed into an idea about a man inheriting one of those watches, that is a bit… insane :D. I poked at it, but I never started to write it. But one day….

  • MaCrae

    This remind me of the tv show Warehouse 13 (great show!) 😀

    If this were true, I’d be the crazy teenager on the street corner peddling magic gum wrappers and cackling. “Git yer magic gunk and junk! Get the broken pen of wonderment here! Magic shoe laces! Dust bunny servants! Bad pennies and loose change for rainy days!” (Extra mad cackle)

    I like this idea!

  • I’m in my office, sitting at my desk which is covered in paper. My junk drawer is actually a “I’m pretty sure I need to keep this piece of paper, so I’ll just shove it in here…” I need to clean that drawer out, but I’m afraid to. I’m rather certain there’s some sort of paper monster/pet down at the bottom, and while I’m quite certain it’s cute, but it’s probably Gremlin cute, and I’d feed it after midnight and then it would destroy the world.

  • Ken

    I’ve found an old incense burner. When I light a stick and then get a good mental image of someone in my mind, the smoke curls up and forms a frame and in that frame, I can see who I’m thinking about…not as they are, right at that moment, but at some time in the near future.

  • An old, very dusty Magic 8 Ball sits on my desk. But what if when the right person touches the 8 Ball its true magical powers are released? Then the answers become more complicated and more frightening than “Don’t Count On It” or “Signs point to yes.”

  • sagablessed

    Ever see ‘Lost Room’ on scy-fy, Misty? similar proposal. Just sayin’, lol.

  • sagablessed

    Like a key that when you open a door with it, it would open up to any room where the door had a key. Or a watch that cooked an egg in three minutes. And a pair of sissors that turned things upsidedown.

  • Yes, I did see The Lost Room! For those who missed it, there’s a hotel room in which a supernatural incident occurred, imbuing all the items inside with unusual powers, and making the room itself something of an interdimensional space. The show ultimately let me down, but the concept was wonderful.

    David, I’d like my Dream of the Blue Turtles tour sweatshirt to do the same thing your belt does, except to Sting concerts.

  • Daniel R Davis… I misread something from your blogbit as “leaving a slight protuberance that I filed down once a month” and immediately wondered why a letter opener’s busted crossguard would be growing back. What DID you stab with it last??!

  • A variant of what Green suggested: Bitchcraft. The art of complaining to make missing things appear and to make other things happen. The only catch is that you can’t do it deliberately; intentionally screaming “Dammit, why can’t I win the lottery?” yields nothing. I practice this regularly, to the point where my husband just laughs any time I’m vocal about things. It took me a long time to admit to him that our finding each other was the biggest piece of Bitchcraft I’ll ever perform. 😉

  • Reziac: ROFL! I’m not sure, but I think it lived under a bridge.

  • Laura, if I had the power of bitchcraft, I’d leave all sorts of damage in my wake every time I drive!

  • Razziecat

    We recently had the mysterious disappearing-and-reappearing butter knife. No one knows where it went, no one knows how it came back. I thought maybe the pixies borrowed it; and maybe anything they borrow retains a bit of their magic! I’m not sure what kind of quest needs a magic butter knife, but it’s bound to be interesting 🙂

  • I was cleaning out my hair accessories drawer (yes, they are real) and I came across this flower I used to wear in my hair all the time. I was thinking of all the great memories associated with it. But what if this flower had the power to transport me into the past or future, not as me, but as someone who will be influenced positively or negatively by the person wearing the flower. Or as someone I will influence that way to see how I affected their lives. It can be a good reality check for some of us, to actually engage with ourselves without actually being ourselves.

    Beautiful Creatures does a really good job at this and so does Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

  • I’m late to the party but at my house anything left on the ledge behind the kitchen sink instantly becomes invisible. I mean it. I can be washing the dishes and wiping the benches down and be sure I’ve done everything and then BAM a bowl appears on the back of the sink. Or I’ll be searching for that coffee mug I was sure I had used in the morning. Failing to find it I get a clean one out and fill it. Then BAM! My old mug become visible and now I have to wash 2 mugs instead of 1.