“You want me to conjure flowers?” I said, sounding more disgusted than I’d meant to. “Isn’t that a bit… fairground attraction? What next, rabbits out of hats?”
“Conjuring a living thing is difficult, young man,” said Nightingale sternly. “And I’m sorry if flowers offend your sense of dignity, but I haven’t forgotten what happened when you got a bit carried away with light and nearly burnt down the lab.”
A complete exaggeration, I thought, but I also admitted he might have a point.
“So, flowers. You can’t do any harm with flowers. Give it a go.”
“What kind of flowers?”
“Don’t get smart, lad.”
“OK,” I said, and attempted to visualize flowers. I wasn’t big on flowers.
I spoke the words, concentrating on the shape of the forma, and shutting my eyes so as to have a better go.
“Is that the best you can do?” said Nightingale.
I opened my eyes, and found – a sludgy mess drooping off stems.
“They look like they were flowers once,” I said defensively.
“They also smell like a compost heap gone wrong,” observed Nightingale. “Try again. Something alive, if you please.”
I shut my eyes again and spoke the words.
“I… no wonder you’re not much of a one for romance,” said Nightingale. “Still, credit where it’s due, it’s alive.”
Reluctantly, I opened my eyes, then shut them again in resignation.
I had, it seemed, conjured a fine, healthy, very prickly, cactus.
I was trying not to see it as symbolic, but Nightingale had already made the connection for me.
At least Lesley would get a laugh out of it.