Sep 19, 2021 5:08 AM
owls in Heavenly Wish
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Her plan was always "cope with her family's bullshit until she could go off to college." She would need scholarships for that, but she's smart, and more importantly, determined. And that's still the plan, sort of. But it's come to her attention more and more, lately, that potential maybe scholarships in the future are unhatched eggs, and that one shouldn't count the chickens in them. 

And her parents are getting less and less bearable to deal with as she gets older. Her brother's...fine. Mostly. Except that he doesn't want to cut ties with their parents, which limits the extent to which she can keep ties with him, in the long run. She can probably hang on until she turns eighteen; even if she doesn't manage to get into college, she can still leave. 

But she doesn't want to if she doesn't have to. 

She looks into the ways to emancipate herself as a fifteen-year old. 

One way is to get married, which--ugh, her mother might actually approve of that one, but even if there's any overlap between the kind of husband Rhonda would be willing to have and the kind her mother would want for her, he hasn't presented himself to her yet. One way is with mutual consent from her parents, which, haha, no. One way is to join the armed forces, which, extra, special, no. 

One way is to become a magical girl. 

Probably her odds aren't great. But it would be a good thing for a variety of other reasons besides just getting her out of here three years early, so she might as well check out what the application looks like. 

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Office of the Imperial Court of Magi under the Auspices of Her Majesty Jun Wu, Supreme Magical Empress
Magical Girl Application Form (US English)
Last updated 1987; please contact the office of Ling Wen with questions or corrections

1. Full name
2. Date of birth
3. Region [choose one...]
4. Is it legal, in your region, for you to become a magical girl at this time? (We can keep your application on file even if the answer is "no".)

...

14. What will you wish for?
15. Tell us about yourself.

...

☐ By checking this box you affirm that you have read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
☐ By checking this box you affirm that you are aware of the contents of Magical Girl FAQs including but not limited to section 4.9 ("Life Expectancy Statistics").

[Submit]
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1. Rhonda Susanne Wallace

2. 8/3/2006

3. Onondaga County, New York

4. Yes

...

14. 

...What she would wish for...she knows less about wishes than she would like. She's heard a lot about them, but she has no way to separate fact from fiction. She's pretty sure the thing where you can get recently-dead people back is real, but not certain; she's heard that it has to be something you really care about, which she has no way of knowing if it's true or not but she's reasonably sure they're only one to a customer so it wouldn't do to waste one. Wishing to get out of her parents' house would be redundant. What else does she care about, really care about in the depths of her soul? And of that, what would sound good to the people who'll be reading her application? 

She considers this. She likes books. She likes dancing and singing. She generally approves of social justice movements and environmentalism. 

Suppose she gets out of the Wallace house. What does she want most after that? ...To have a job, or a college scholarship; something stable where she won't have to worry about her next meal or a roof over her head. She wants...to be self-sufficient. Independent. To be able to get out if she ever finds herself in another situation like this again. 

How does she translate that into a wish?

I wish I would never have to interact with someone I don't want to again would be nice, but she can't see it impressing anyone. I wish I always had enough money to get by on sounds impractical at best, and liable to get her arrested for theft or counterfeiting at worst. 

She considers it for a little while longer, chin propped on one hand, and writes, 

14. I wish I could teleport. 

For number fifteen, "Tell us about yourself," she explains that her father is a drunk and her mother is impractically conservative/traditionalist and just wants her daughter to be a housewife and how she would love to blame them for that, but, cut to a well-arranged screed on interracial generational inequality in America in general and in her city in particular, with an aside on how the current Interstate was built in a way as to cut through the pre-existing black community and disrupt everything, and how being able to go wherever she wanted would help her to overcome systemic racism in America for herself and hopefully to help others do so, and also she's got good grades and lots of prosocial extracurriculars and no disciplinary record, you can check with her school. 

Check. 

Check. 

Submit. 

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There's no instant response.

Three days later she has an email asking if she is in a position to accept a plane ticket to Shenyang to be interviewed in person.

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!!!!

Yes she is in a position to accept a plane ticket to Shenyang. She talks to her teachers about what she'll have to do to make up the work she'll miss and she tells her parents that she'll be "out with friends for a while" and gets a friend her mother approves of to corroborate it, and then she hops on a plane to Shenyang, almost vibrating with excitement. 

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In Shenyang a young man in the uniform of nonmagical persons employed by the Imperial Court meets her with her name on a sign at the airport. He doesn't speak a ton of English but he can get her to the palace.

The palace is ridiculously luxurious, like it's been kept in perfect repair and refined for two thousand years, which it has. There are magical girls all over the place; it's customary to go about in magical girl garb in the palatial environs.

She is handed off to a uniformed woman with significantly more English. "Welcome to the Palace, Miss Wallace."

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She had enough time before she left to look up some basic social niceties; she bows correctly. "Thank you very much--" she looks for a nametag. 

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It's in Chinese. "This way, please. Your application was received with much appreciation."

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Rhonda started a Duolingo account for Mandarin before she left but since this woman's name doesn't appear to be Li Hua or Zhang Ming she's left in the dark. She follows the woman. "I'm honored to hear that."

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There is a nice waiting room with nice antique furniture. Sitting on one of the antique chairs is some sort of creature.

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She gives the creature a curious glance but staring would be rude and she is GOING to make a GOOD IMPRESSION. 

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The creature hops into her lap as soon as she sits down.

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Well okay then!

"Hello. Nǐhǎo," she adds, in case it gets her any points for cultural sensitivity. 

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Hello. Welcome to the Palace. My name is Kyubey. Please tell me more about what you want to do as a magical girl.

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She blinks in surprise at the telepathy. 

"--Well, I don't know exactly what I'm going to want to do because so much about being a magical girl is unknown or uncorroborated--I hesitated a lot before filling in the wish slot on my application because I knew so little about how wishes work; I've heard dozens of things, some of them contradictory. But I know being a magical girl involves fighting monsters and I think I'm up to the task; I have a very high kinesthetic intelligence. I've never had any formal martial arts training because my mother didn't think it was ladylike but I'm an excellent dancer and I know how to take a fall and how to throw a punch without hurting myself. I also know a little bit of Cossack sword dance but I suspect that that has less applications for actual fighting than it could. I would like to use my powers to combat economic inequality, but I'm not going to do that in any ways that are stupid or illegal; I'm going to be careful and learn what's wise before I do anything." 

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What other wishes did you consider?

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--They PROBABLY have some kind of magical lie detection. 

"I considered wishing for a power that would let me render myself mutually uninteractable with someone--I considered wishing for more liberal economic policy--I considered wishing I spoke Mandarin--I considered wishing I spoke everything."

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Why did you choose teleportation?

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"Because it had the highest total score across the axes of plausibility, usefulness, and personal emotional weight."

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Are you ready now?

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"--I think so. How does wishing work, exactly?"

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The eartendrils of the creature lift up to touch her face. Tell me your wish, from the deepest part of your heart.

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From the deepest part of your heart. 

She thinks about it. Thinks about freedom absolute, thinks about never having to stay someplace she doesn't again. Thinks about being able to do anything she wants--if she hates these guys she could just leave, find deserving rich assholes and steal their knickknacks and hock them and live in motels that accept cash and have wifi and it's now how she'd choose to live but it'd be fine, honestly, and if someone caught up to her she could teleport to Antarctica, and for the hell of it why not imagine being able to teleport to her brother if and only if their parents aren't there--if and only if he's alone and not masturbating, maybe even--

She focuses on the sheer want that fills her with every imagining and says, "I wish I could teleport."

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There is light.

And Rhonda is a magical girl, with the bauble and the fingernail mark and the dress and all.

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Rhonda looks down at her dress--a black cheongsam with bright red dragons embroidered across it and a swishy red shift underneath that goes down to her wrists and ankles, extending from the short sleeves and the slits up to either hip on the cheongsam--and grins, and twirls around, and teleports to the other side of the room, and throws back her head and laughs gleefully. 

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Congratulations! says Kyubey.

The uniformed woman who escorted her in opens the door again. "Miss Wallace? Please come with me and register at the imperial office as soon as you're ready."

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