I imagined what it would look like when I was older. The place would be hidden away. Like a secret.
The inside looked very much like a regular office, but I'd been to this theater when I was really little. I recognized the star pattern of the carpet. And the front desk was where we used to buy tickets.
As my Mom and I approached, a woman with a headset gave us a quick wave and signaled for us to give her a minute.
We didn’t have to wait. Jenny came bursting through the door a second later. She ran at me, shrieking, “Oh, my God!! You are finally here!!”
“Yeah,” I said, a laugh in my voice. “I can’t believe it!”
Jenny grabbed onto my hands and squeezed. “You’ve got to come with me and see the rest of this place! It’s amazing!”
We followed Jenny down a hallway. Through each open door, I saw different offices set up in every room. The people inside were so focused on their work that they took no notice of us passing.
The hallway switched to the right, and we walked past a wall covered in silver and gold sparkling stars. The other side of the building contained more offices. And before I knew it, we were back in the reception room.
“That was... great,” I said. But it really hadn’t been what I’d expected. It was just a normal office with normal people working. It was actually kind of boring.
Jenny burst into a fit of giggles. “You really thought that was it?”
I blinked, heat rushing to my cheeks. “Um...”
“It seems like we’ve seen the whole building,” my Mom said, quickly. “Though it does look bigger from the outside.”
Jenny grinned. “Oh, no. You haven’t seen anything yet, Ms. Roberts.”
My Mom and I exchanged a look. “Oh?”
“Come on.” Jenny motioned for us to follow her again.
As we passed through the hallway once again, I started to notice that there was something off about the activity in the open rooms. No one looked at us, even though Jenny was still laughing quietly. Wouldn’t at least one person glance up?
We turned, and Jenny stopped along the wall of stars. There was a large golden one in the middle with a purple M on it. Jenny touched a smaller silver star to the right of it. The star popped forward to reveal a touchpad on the other side.
“What’s that?” I asked.
Jenny smirked and simply laid her hand flat on the pad. A green light flashed beneath her palm, and a chime sounded. She took a step back as music started to play. The large golden star spun around, and I jumped. The walls slid open, and behind was a large, bright theater with the original seating. It seemed almost untouched from what it used to be, though the screen just showed a sparkling Magic Inc. logo instead of the latest movie.
“Wow,” I breathed.
From the door just to the left of the huge screen, came Mr. Parker and Chaz. I gave a happy sigh at the sight of my love, finally in front of me. Mr. Parker waved us in as they came forward, and Jenny gave me a push from behind.
“I know it’s amazing, but you’ve got to pay attention,” she teased.
My Mom had already gone inside. I was the only one distracted. I blushed. “Sorry!”
I glanced back to see a perfectly normal looking wall with just one silver star fixed inconspicuously in the corner. But I knew better now.
I turned and was jolted to see how close Chaz was suddenly standing. He smiled at me, and my heart floated. If only the whole room could just fall away for a few moments.
“How nice it is to see you!” Mr. Parker greeted us, cheerfully. “Welcome to the real Magic. Inc.!”
“You’ve hidden it away?” My Mom’s eyes took in the sight with admiration. “That’s brilliant.”
“Indeed,” Mr. Parker said with a chuckle. “And thank you. What you saw out there was mostly an illusion. We conduct our important business back here, but we had to have an area for new agreements as well.”
“An illusion,” I mumbled to myself.
No wonder no one looked up at our passing.
My Mom made a noise of surprise. “Really? I had no idea!”
“Well, it’s unfortunately necessary for the time being,” Mr. Parker replied. “We don’t want to scare people off by thrusting them into everything at once.” He gave me a smile that almost seemed regretful. “Our hope is to slowly familiarize those we work with to our true intentions.”
“And what intentions are those?” My Mom had a curious expression on her face.
“Eventually, we’d like everyone to know about magic,” Mr. Parker explained. “It will be a slow process, and it’s likely I won’t see the results in my lifetime, but those are my true intentions.”
“I see.” Her curiosity had faded into a frown. “Do you really think it’s wise, Landon? I mean... I’m not sure magic is something everyone can handle.”
Mr. Parker nodded. “It must be done carefully; that’s true. But I do believe it must be done.”
“A whole world of magic,” I mumbled, in awe. This time, everyone looked at me. I shrunk away beside Jenny. Chaz gave a small chuckle.
Mr. Parker smiled at me. “Yes, that is my dream. Magic Inc. is a media company, but it was also formed to be something of a support group for those struggling or just learning about magic. Our website has a hidden page with information for those new to the idea. It’s meant to be passed around quietly by magic users, but anyone else stumbling onto it would surely think it was just a joke.”
“Hm.” My Mom gave him a wry smile. “Well, it does seem well thought out. Though I’m sure not everyone would want the whole world to know about magic.”
“You’re not the first one to bring that to my attention, Christine.” Mr. Parker laughed. “But I’ve learned to rely on my own intuition when it comes to building a future for my children.”
He put an arm around Chaz and squeezed his shoulder. Chaz reddened and looked away in embarrassment when he caught my eyes.
“Now... how about a tour?” Mr. Parker offered, as his son shrugged away from him.
“That would be wonderful,” my Mom replied. “Jane has been waiting for this, and I have to admit to my own interest now.”
“Yes, I’m so sorry about the wait. Let’s not waste another minute!” Mr. Parker gave a brilliant grin and led us towards the screen. “As you can see, our aim is to merge magic and technology. People often wonder how we stay on the cutting edge of tech for a relatively small group.”
I could tell, now that I was closer to it, that the screen had been switched from a normal theater projection screen to a huge digital display of the highest quality.
My Mom’s wide eyes were also fixed on the impressive screen. “Stunning.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” I added.
Jenny giggled happily at our reactions.
“Chaz convinced me to leave this room as it is,” Mr. Parker said. “He worked quite hard on setting up this screen for us to enjoy.”
Chaz was beaming at his work. I moved my eyes back and forth between the two Parker men. Chaz seemed almost like a proud father, wearing the same expression as Mr. Parker.
We walked into the hallway next, passing a few closed doors. Mr. Parker continued talking us through the tour. “This hallway is almost finished. Then we’ll start work on the other side.”
The first open room was a blue and white kitchen. We didn’t go inside, but it seemed comfortable, like it had been cut out of someone’s home instead of being made to fit a work environment.
Then Mr. Parker led us into a large meeting room with a modern curved table and lots of comfortable chairs. More fancy screens covered every wall. “Jane will be using this room for her lessons.”
The room suddenly took on a whole new meaning for me. “Wow!”
Mr. Parker looked pleased at my response. “I’m hoping you’ll begin to think of Magic Inc. as your home away from home, Jane.”
“What about our house, Daddy?” Jenny broke in.
“Yes, there, too,” Mr. Parker chuckled. “Everything that’s ours is yours.”
I couldn’t believe it. All of this was mine? Even if just in some small way.
We moved back into the hallway and to the next room.
“This is our main tech room.” Mr. Parker glanced at his son. “And Chaz’s favorite spot.”
Chaz motioned us in, taking over for a moment. I followed happily. There were rows of computers, mostly set up on simple, pristine desks. In the very back, the sight was much different, however. Two messy desks, surrounded by overflowing bookshelves and flashing machines. I could tell this was where Mr. Parker and Chaz actually worked.
I tried to pay attention to Chaz explaining the functions of the room, but my heart was beating so loudly when I focused on him that I almost couldn’t hear his words.
Chaz gave an embarrassed chuckle. “But usually, it’s just me in here, minding the servers and working on whatever needs my attention.”
“All right, enough of the boring nerd stuff.” Jenny rolled her eyes. “Can we please get to some of the interesting rooms already?”
“Jenny,” Mr. Parker scolded lightly.
“Whatever,” mumbled a blushing Chaz.
I wished I could tell him how interesting I thought he was. But then, I hadn’t paid enough attention to what he’d been saying. And now, I really regretted it. Why did I have to be so daydreamy around him?
I caught his eyes again, and my face grew hot, but Jenny pulled me away before anything else could happen.
We made a quick turn into a room that looked like a small recording studio. I almost couldn’t believe I was standing in a place where music could be made. “Oh, cool! Do you actually record music here?”
“We haven’t done much with it yet,” Mr. Parker said. “We have a larger setup in Pittsburgh, but I liked the idea of having something closer to home.”
“Here, watch!” Jenny let go of my arm. “Chaz, let me record something.” She darted into the booth, closing the door behind her.
“She makes fun of me until she needs me.” Chaz sighed. But he sat down and began hitting buttons. After a moment, he gave a thumbs-up to Jenny, who was sitting in front of the mic with headphones on.
Jenny leaned into the mic and began singing a song I didn’t recognize. Her voice was clear and lovely. I felt even more jealous of her than I was before.
When she was done, Jenny came through the door and grabbed my arm once again. “Now, you have to see my favorite room!”
There were only two doors left at the very end of the hallway. The open room was empty and only dimly lit. I wasn’t sure why Jenny would be so excited to show it to me, but we walked right in.
Once we were all inside, Chaz closed the door behind us and hit a button which revealed a touchscreen. He fiddled with it for a moment before closing the wall back up. Jenny’s song began playing. And suddenly, the room was alive with color. Rainbows of light streamed all around us to the beat of the melody.
I noticed a small platform in the middle of the room, which Jenny hopped onto. She offered me her hand. “Come on!”
I got on the platform nervously. She smiled, waving her hands around in the light, directing it to me. The light felt like a breeze; it blew my hair back. Jenny looked beautiful enveloped by the rainbows. I wished I could be so lucky. I just barely let my arms leave my sides to allow the aura to flow around me, too shy to dance with it the way Jenny was.
On my right, I noticed my Mom playing with the light with one hand. She was smiling in awe, wider than she had since I couldn’t remember. As I watched her, Chaz came up onto the platform beside me. My arms fell the short distance back into place.
Chaz shook his head. Then he slowly and gently took my arms from behind and lifted them up. The rainbows danced into the spaces between us. My blood rushed around my body as he held my arms up.
His voice was quiet and comforting. “You don’t have to be embarrassed. No one is watching. Just enjoy it.”
I glanced around at the others, but it was true. No one was watching. They all seemed caught up in their own sort of paradise. Even Mr. Parker.
Chaz smiled and backed away. I could still feel the warmth of him all around me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, and the air picked up more than before. My long hair flew around my shoulders.
I sighed, peacefully. I felt strong, powerful, and almost... beautiful. I knew I’d never forget this moment even if I lived to be a hundred and eight.
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