TO TURN BACK TIME • by Leigh Kimmel

Adrienne de Toulouse hurried upstairs to Magister Phillippe’s study atop the tower overlooking the Collegia Magica. She needed only to obtain his permission before she could resume her studies. The teachers in the ordinary subjects had excused her absence, even rejoiced at her return after her family’s difficulties. She had less confidence about Magister Phillippe, with his well-earned reputation as a curmudgeon.

Was it surprising, when one considered his status as the only master of the deep shaping in an entire generation. A man in his position could write his own ticket, and peole would overlook his difficult disposition to gain access to his tutelage. And without the teaching only he could give, she couldn’t complete her studies.

When Adrienne opened the door, Magister Phillippe did not stir from his spellbook. Adrienne crossed the room to stand before him.

“Magister, I apologize for the delay, but I have returned–”

Magister Phillippe’s gaze remained on his work. “You have already missed two weeks.”

“The absence was unavoidable, Magister. My father required my assistance, and — ”

“And I required your presence here, Mademoiselle de Toulouse.” For the first time he looked up. “The time for beginning your studies has passed.”

“I studied while I was gone.” Adrienne extended the spellbook he’d lent her only days before her father’s accident.

The Magister pushed it away. “But you were not here. The time is past, and you cannot bring it back.”

“Then why can I find a spell to turn back time?” Adrienne leafed to the appropriate page. “When I cast it, I can change the past so I will be here on the appointed day, and you can’t shut me out.”

“It is beyond your skill. Even if you manage to cast it, you cannot control how things happen after you re-make your choice. You could easily create an even worse present, and the time stream will not bear a second casting over the same section.”

Adrienne grabbed the clock from the mantelpiece. “I’ll take that chance.”

Chanting the words of the spell, she turned the clock’s hands backward. The currents of magic flowed through its works, carrying her back to the lost moment. She willed the all-important change, to have been present to begin her studies with Magister Phillippe.

Casting accomplished, she sped the clock’s hands forward to the new present. Now the old man could not punish her for being loyal to family.

The room was dark and silent. Ashes lay in the grate.

“Magister Phillippe?” Adrienne’s throat tightened.

The door opened and a cleaning woman thrust in her head. “Mademoiselle, haven’t you heard? Magister Phillippe died of apoplexy last night. There was a quarrel…” Her voice trailed away as she averted her gaze, unwilling to meet Adrienne’s eyes.

Adrienne stared at the spellbooks lining the walls, full of magic he’d never teach her. After all she’d done to be Magister Phillippe’s student, it had come to naught, forever. Perhaps in a century another mage of his talent would appear, but by then she would be long gone.

Leigh Kimmel is a writer, artist and historian with degrees in Russian langauge and literature and in history.

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