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Galen Ward

I miss the days of a life still permanent

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The courtroom was vast but vacant. The raspy voice of an elderly judge and the confident drawl of his attorney, Mr. Seymour Mudgrove, bounced around the room but all he could hear was wordless babbling. He recalled only hazy memories of this place from his previous hearing: a banging gavel, dozens of eyes, the disappointed expressions of his friends.

 

“Do you, Mr. Ward, agree to these terms and conditions set before you by the Council of Magical Law?”

 

He stared up at the light shining through a window, captivated its brightness, and the specks of dust that glittered in the sun beams. He never had any appreciation for daylight until it was taken away from him. He never had been very thoughtful, until all he had were his thoughts. But the daylight, he yearned for it - it was so beautiful. How could something be so beautiful?

 

“Mr. Ward?”

 

His eyes snapped ahead, blinking rapidly. The face of the judge slowly came into focus. The old man had cheeks burdened by deep lines and wrinkles that he likely developed from a lifetime of difficult decisions. He wore a customary black robe and a boxy hat that made him look formal, yet ridiculous.

 

Galen turned his head to look at Mr. Mudgrove, his eyes glossy and his expression dull. The balding man pressed his lips together, staring back at the younger man with pity.

 

“…Yes, he agrees,” said Mr. Mudgrove, who tugged firmly on the back of Galen’s collar.

 

“Y-yes,” he croaked.

 

“Very well. This court is adjourned. I do hope to never see you again in this courtroom, Mr. Ward.” There was a loud bang of the gavel, and Galen flinched. A pair of magical law enforcement officers led him into a smaller room, where they stood guard by the doors. What followed was a flurry of paperwork and judicial language that he did not understand.

 

“Good job, lad, good job!” Mr. Mudgrove clapped him on the back, hard enough to knock the wind out of his lungs. Galen did not care enough to wonder what his attorney was so pleased about. He undressed, stepping out of the handsome shirt and trousers that Mr. Mudgrove provided for him, and back into his tattered jumpsuit.

 

“What’s going on?” he finally asked.

 

“You’re getting out!” said Mr. Mudgrove, who seemed very pleased with his success.

 

“Then why am I going back?” he asked, with a slight waver in his voice that was indicative of fear and skepticism.

 

“Just for a few days, lad. Hold tight, hang in there.”

 

The officers fastened shackles around his wrists and tugged him away, but for the first time in several years, Galen felt his heart thud with hopefulness.


Edited by Galen Ward

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Galen stepped onto the damp, cobbled street outside of the Mudgrove & Mudgrove office building. Gray clouds rumbled overhead, threatening more rain, but such was London weather. The shorter Mudgrove attorney, Bertrand, followed after him and set a heavy hand on his shoulder.



“Remember, no drinking, no drugs, no dueling. This is a precautionary measure. You are prohibited from the use of magic after ten o’clock, including apparation - this means no staying out late unless you have a friend who can summon you the Night Bus, but you shouldn’t be out so late anyway, if you don’t want to raise suspicions. You have a lot of attention on you, do you hear me? Say something.”



“Yeah,” said Galen, in a subdued tone that implied he was not really listening. He watched the witches and wizards who passed by in their dark business robes.



“Very well. Keep in mind that you cannot leave the country. A trace has been placed upon you to monitor your magic use and your location. If you mess up, we will find out. It’s three strikes, Mr. Ward, but if you skip a meeting with your parole officer, there is little we can do to help you.” Bertrand shoved a fat envelope into his hands. “It is all outlined for you. You’ll report to a witch called Leslie Ballister. This is her card, with her address. The next full moon is the sixteenth of October, but your first meeting with her is this Wednesday at exactly five o’clock in the evening. Do not be late. In the week prior to the full moon, you will meet her every night at the same time, before sunset. Now, the address we have listed is that of your parents. If that changes, you must inform - ”



“I can go now?” he interrupted, shoving the papers into his pocket without much care.



“Well, I… er, yes. You can go. Do be mindful.”



“My wand?” he asked, holding out his hand. Frowning, Bertrand took the item in question from his pocket and placed it gingerly into Galen’s palm. He gave the boy a tight smile. Galen rolled the ebony wand between his fingers, testing its weight. He tucked it away quickly and looked Mudgrove in the eyes for the first time in the course of their arduous relationship. “Thank you,” he said, as sincerely as he could muster.



Without leaving much room for sentiment, he stalked down the road and disappeared with a loud crack.


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He stood across the road from his parent’s house for what must have been hours. To Galen, it did not feel that long because he had grown so used to staring at a wall, that staring at anything else seemed fascinating by comparison.

 

It was well into the evening and the shabby muggle neighborhood was dark, so he went unnoticed. In the distance he listened to the sound rushing cars and the occasional barking of a dog. He watched the silhouette of his mother drift past the windows. He tracked her movement, from the living room, to the kitchen, back to the living room. His father was likely home, too, because his car was parked on the curb and it had a sticker that read ‘RAF’ on the rear bumper. A cat sat perched in the bathroom window and it seemed to watch Galen intently. He recalled the Turkish angora that Margo adopted in her second year. It made sense that his parents would have kept Duchess after all this time.

 

Galen inhaled slowly and then exhaled. All he needed was ten seconds of bravery and then it would be done. With that in mind, he quickly crossed the street to knock on the door with three short raps of his knuckles. He heard some shuffling around the entryway. He held his breath.

 

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six…

 

The door cracked open, revealing the tired face of his mother. Her hair was blonde like Margo’s. She stared at him for a few moments with a deep furrow in her brow. Galen’s chest tightened with panic. Did she not recognize him? Mudgrove had mentioned that his parents were partially obliviated to avoid muggle conflict, but he never thought to consider what they would know, or what they didn’t know.

 

“M-Ma?” he asked with hesitation. The woman inhaled sharply and her scrutinizing gaze softened with recognition. Her hand moved to cover her mouth.

 

“Oh, Galen. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize - “ she broke off the end of her sentence, her eyes glistening with emotion. Then came the hard voice of his father.

 

“Who is it?” But his mother gave no answer, so the man got up to see for himself. He had red hair, like Galen, with a narrow jaw and angular features. He loomed behind his mother and gave him an appraising once-over. “What’s he doing here?” he snapped. The man’s tone was bitter with renewed grief and resentment. “You don’t live here.

 

“But I… I need to list an address or else -“

 

“What’s left of your things is upstairs. Take what you want and go.”

 

“Go where?” Galen looked again to his mother. She shook her head with her hand still pressed to her lips, but her cheeks were now damp with tears.

 

“I don’t care. Not here, you aren't welcome.”


Edited by Galen Ward

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When his father disappeared into the basement, his mother ushered him inside. The cat, Duchess, brushed up against his shins and weaved between his legs. Galen tried not to look at her, so he looked around the small house instead. It seemed emptier, and several pictures were missing from the walls.

 

“Come upstairs,” she said in a timid voice. “I’m sorry about your father. Ever since the car accident, he’s - “

 

“Car accident?” asked Galen, stopping midway up the steps to frown at her. She met his gaze with a look of concern, but she did not answer. They shared a moment of awkward silence, and just as she opened her mouth to speak, Galen turned and continued to the second level. “Er, do you have my owl?” he asked to change the subject.

 

“…No, but you can ask your friends from school. We gave them all your magic things.”

 

“Right.” They paused outside his bedroom.

 

“I’ll leave you to it. Just… keep in touch. Please? Send me one of your owl-mails.”

 

“Yes, ma.” She reached out to take his hand, but she did not look at him. The moment did not last long, and she hurried back downstairs.

 

He found his bedroom empty, aside from a few stacked boxes and several pieces of furniture. He opened his closet to find items that didn’t belong, like an old bike and a vacuum and two cans of paint. In the corner of the room was a garbage bag partially filled with clutter. He dumped its contents onto the floor and began rummaging through the boxes. He filled the bag with some of his old clothing, most of which was too short in length, but too large in size. It would do, for now.

 

Without wasting more time, Galen stepped out of his bedroom and faced the door across the hall. That was Margo’s room. His legs carried him inside, he couldn’t stop himself. He was numb.

 

Margo’s room looked entirely untouched. Butterfly stickers decorated the walls and colorful pillows covered her bed. On top of them was Mrs. Potts, her stuffed stegosaurus. Galen squeezed his eyes shut because he could feel them stinging with tears, and he clenched his jaw to fight them.

 

He went to look at himself in the mirror above her bureau (it was cluttered with old makeup), and he recoiled at the very sight of himself. His hair was long and greasy, gone without much maintenance for three years, and his beard was patchy, still thin like a teenager’s. His cheeks were hollowed and his skin was pale, almost translucent.

 

His gaze drifted to the small photo that hung on the wall behind him – it was a family portrait. He turned to take it down, yanking it out of his frame. He folded it in half and put it in his pocket without bothering to look at it because didn’t want to feel anything, not here, not now.

 

The muffled voices of his parents arguing from the basement were loud enough to reach him upstairs.

 

“It was an accident!”

 

“He was drunk!”

 

There was another crack, and Galen was gone.

 

Continued here.


Edited by Galen Ward

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