mama magic doesn't actually have magic, but asha thinks she does. she's always known she's had magic.
when the girl was younger and asked mama if they could go to the beach, it always rained. asha would cry and wipe her snot on her godmother's clothes, and the next day she'd watch her choke the sky until it was sanguined in crimsons and deep purples and pumpkin oranges. it would die moments later into sable blackness, and, with repugnance, mama magic would spit stars all over it and steal the moon.
"mama!" asha would shake her head, her hands on her hips. "you said it was wrong to steal!"
"girl, hush," mama magic would wave her away, smiling at her naïveté. "that sky's dead. it ain't worrying about no missing organs in heaven."
the next morning, the girl would awake with mama magic and watch an apricot sun spill it's golden fruit sap all across their living room floor.
"that's the evening's angel," mama would whisper as she braided asha's hair into plaits, her voice soft and ginger. "the sun mourns by crying god's tears."
"i thought god mourned when it rained," asha would say.
she shook her head. "no, baby. god is so beautiful, so pure and wholesome, that even his pain looks pretty."
when asha got older, acne pockmarked her face.
she would cry to mama magic and whine about how everyone else didn't understand that she was growing up at a younger age, and mama magic would kiss her forehead and hold her close.
at night, after their prayers, mama would sit with asha in the window seat of her bedroom, lift the girl's chin softly, and pluck away at her face— tossing all of her blackheads and scars and bumps into outer space and splintering the sky with new constellations.
the next day, asha would wake up and smile in the mirror when she saw that her skin was beautiful and clear, and she'd race into mama magic's room and drown her in love and slobbery kisses as her heart thrashed so wildly in her chest that both of them were afraid it wouldn't have enough room to beat.
today was asha's first day of the tenth grade, and mama magic seemed to be burnt out of all her magic.
she'd gotten onto the bus with a stomachache and a backpack heavy with supplies, but she still felt empty. everyone stared at her afro, like she was too much―too black― for their liking, but she didn't mind it. mama already gave her a remedy for the whites, and it was called the power of ignoring and continuing to be.
the emptiness was worry, and the worry came from the sky. it was too gray, and polluted. the stardust in her veins felt it, and predicted something odd would happen sometime throughout the day, though she wasn't sure if it was something good or bad.
asha hummed the ease on down the road and felt the silvery pendant of her necklace between her fingers. it was a cross, and she wondered if jesus was an astronaut and could somehow telepathically communicate with her to let her know what would occur when she would soon arrive at school.
he was second on her list when mama magic was burnt out of all her magic.