It is raining. Typical for a spring morning, but as the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Now it’s May, and it’s still raining. I stare at the rain as it drips slowly down the panels of my living room window. The clouds are gray and everything seems gloomy, yet I am sitting cross-legged on the windowsill, a hopeful glint in my big blue eyes. It is the middle of a school week, a Wednesday, but today is different. It is my eleventh birthday. Today I will be treated like a star; I will eat too much frosting and ravenously rip off wrapping paper. And most importantly, at least, to me, today an owl will fly through my window and deliver my Hogwarts letter, beginning my double existence as a wizard.
For months I have been analyzing my magical abilities as they develop, tracking each emotional outburst and its supernatural results. I have been practicing simple spells, and while they haven’t yet worked, I am sure it’s just because I haven’t gone to Ollivander’s and gotten the proper wand. I have gotten my hands on every piece of magical information; I have book lists printed out and a plain black robe hanging on the back of my door. Everything that I could have done since I learned of my potential has been accomplished. All that remains is to see that owl swoop from the sky and hand me my destiny.
My perch on the windowsill is vacated when my mother reminds me that I still have to catch the bus to school. I am reluctant to leave, but at least I know I will be back in just six hours. I am confident that if the owl comes while I’m at school, he will be able to manage to wait a few more hours for me. They’re pretty smart creatures, those owls.
My day at school is uneventful; I celebrate with my friends and share cupcakes on the playground, but my mind is elsewhere. I don’t tell anyone about the cake I’ve seen my mother making or the mound of presents that is waiting for me on the kitchen table. The only thing I can chatter about (although secretly, because not everyone can know about the wizarding world) is the letter that is only a short time away and will change my life.
“You know,” a snooty voice tells me, “all that stuff isn’t real, right? Harry Potter and his stupid school thing. Somebody just made it up and wrote about it. You actually believe that stuff’s real? You’re so stupid. I bet you believe in Santa Claus, too, huh?”
I don’t want to look behind me. I hear the laughter; it is pulsating in my brain. Tears begin to well up in my eyes. They’re making fun of me. I try to blurt out that it is real, and that I have proof, and that they will be sorry one day when I can bat-bogey hex them right off the playground. But I can only come up with a feeble sneeze, which just makes them laugh harder. I have never been so embarrassed. I have a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me that I have been deceived, that my letter will never come. I don’t have any magical ability, with or without an Ollivander’s wand. I have not made unexplainable things happen out of anger or fear. Years of preparation and I will never be able to levitate objects or duel my enemies. I can’t believe I fell for such an extravagant lie. Tears begin to slide down my cheeks like the morning’s raindrops on the windowpane.
I remember, then; it’s still my birthday. Regardless of the fact that I’m not going to be whisked away to a school of witchcraft and wizardry, I’m still turning eleven. I still have the hot pink ribbon that says “Birthday Girl” pinned to my jacket. There is still a huge pile of presents on the table that could contain anything at all. The cake my mother has been slaving over for days is still sitting on my counter, ready for me to make a wish on the eleven candles. And besides, I don’t really want to go to boarding school. I’d miss my mom and my dad and even my annoying eight-year-old brother.
I wipe my face with the sleeves of my jacket and stare up at the gray sky. It’s not raining anymore; the clouds are starting to slowly clear and let the sun shine through. I’m not a wizard, sure, but I’m only eleven. My future is an unwritten story, and I am completely free to unfold it any way I want.