PodCastle Miniature 53: Charms

by Shweta Narayan

Read by Claudia Smith

Originally published in Strange Horizons (Read Along Here)

Old Mrs. Farley waves the Daily Mail in Edith’s face and shouts, Did
you see this, dear? She always shouts. She’s half deaf, bless her.

That I did, Edith shouts back. She doesn’t add, When I put them up
this morning, stiff as I was from the cold, and again every time
another customer asks. Wouldn’t be Christian. Wouldn’t be good
business, either. But how the old biddy thinks the papers got on the
rack without Edith putting them there, the Lord only knows.

Mrs. Farley slaps the paper onto the counter, rotogravure picture up,
next to her packets of willow bark and powdered mummy. Edith tries not
to look at it. Fails. That smirking girl staring back with her
cigarette, that ugly short hair, the shapeless dress with its silly
fringes and its shameless show of calf, frivolous before the great
dark mass of Flamel Hall. Girls these days, says Edith. What they
wear. Her voice stays steady, but her eyes go to the headline.
SPELLCASTING SUFFRAGETTES! And below that some inane babble about the
wizards lost in the war, the London College opening its doors, that
child dancing right in as though she belongs. . . .

Rated PG: Contains Magical Higher Learning, Discrimination, and Charity