My Take on A

I can envision this being a much longer story. It’s not exactly finished but the rest of it is still marinating in my head and deadlines being what they are, here you go. Enjoy.

The Apothecary’s Shop

Wordcount: 1083

the-apothecary-jutta-maria-puslThe Apothecary’s Shop sat under a large maple tree and just across from the Bakery. The smell of warm freshly baked bread was ever present but Miklmas paid it no heed. He was in the back of his shop surrounded by open books, his pestle in front of him carefully measuring out a pinch from one bottle and adding it to a wooden bowl already filled with tiny pink blooms.

He sighed, wiped his brow with one sleeve, then scratched at his beard which was starting to turn into a wiry mess of gray hair. Outside he could hear the soft clomp of a plow horse travelling down the cobblestone road. A bell chimed as the door banged open, and hurried steps sounded to his counter.

“Sir! Sir!” He heard and stepped from behind his curtain.

A young man stood in front of the apothecary, his hat in hand, his eyes worried. He said, “Oh, thank the good lord, you’re here. You must help me!”

Miklmas cleared his throat, “What would you be needing,young man?”

“My name is Kasaw. I need your help. I ned, I don’t know what I need.” He laughed nervously.

“Are you ill?”

“No. My wife is ill. No, that’s not quite it, either. She’s not ill, she’s possessed!”

“Possessed?” Miklmas scratched at his beard. “You need a priest young man, not me.”

“The priest has come and gone, sir! He was unhelpful!”

Miklmas studied the young man. His hands shook, his lip trembled, tears filled his eyes. Miklmas said, “How long have you been married, young man?”

“Three months. Only this Spring. Her name is Darling. Just a tiny sprite of a girl.” he smiled a bit.

“You must tell me what happened then to maker her possessed. Come sit down.”

The young man sat on the end of the chair and took a deep breath. He began:

Darling’s father is a stonemason. He’s a giant of a man, and he did not consent to have her marry. Darling and I ran away. She is from Freesburg, but my grandfather lives here. It’s to his farm that we secreted ourselves.

All was wonderful in our first month of marriage. Darling was the sweetest wife, cooking and cleaning my grandfather’s cottage–he soon loved her, too. You must understand sir, we lived harmoniously. Like living with an angel, my grandfather said. The most fiery thing about her was her love–she gave it with wild abandon.  Her love as fiery as her hair which blazed like the sun.

We expected her to grow plump, my love growing in her belly. Instead, she soon began to wither, to grow sour.  Silence filled our afternoons instead of laughter. No longer was there love in her eyes, love in our bed.

 

Miklmas interrupted. “Perhaps she missed her father. Her mother. Was she homesick?”

The young man shook his head vehemently, his eyes begging to be allowed to continue uninterrupted. He continued:

 

After two months of marriage, everything about her changed. Her silence was replaced by hissing words, in a language unknown. Her hair had grown unkempt. She no longer washed her face or her dress.. She lumbered when she walked, seemingly larger somehow, bulkier. She grew angrier and angrier. My grandfather grew to fear her, and feared her until he passed. Instead of grievign for the old man, she cackled with glee!

 

A few nights past I snuck away, fetched the priest. He spent a night and a day and a night with us praying over my wife but he left this morning saying he could do nothing. She no longer had a soul to save, he said. Why would he say such a horrible thing?

 

The young man shook his head sorrowfully. “You’re the only one that could help us now, sir.”

Miklmas sat back in hs chair thinking. “What do you know of me, boy?” he asked.

The young man looked startled, then contrite.

“What have you heard?” Miklmas said. “Out with it now. I won’t have you being dishonest with me.”

“My grandfather–”

“Yes?”

“He begged me to contact you. He said he knew you once when you were boys. He said you…powerful.”

Miklmas nodded his head, satisfied. “All right, then.”

He stood up, his bear of a body shifting between boxes and bookcases his hands reaching for one item and then another. Finally, he grunted. “Come with me.”

 

mortar_and_pestleThey stood together in the backroom. He had closed and locked his shop and set a fire going. He’d spent a silent long minute tossing bits of this and that into a bowl, by memory. Now he reached for the young man’s hand.

“You were bound in blood, your wife and you?”

He nodded.

“Good.” He grabbed the young man’s  hand, and sliced it with the knife.

The young man gasped, but held his tongue.

“What we are about to do is dangerous  and permanent. Let me first ask you three things. Do you love your wife more than you love yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Do you take responsibility for her soul which will forever after be tied to your own? Agreeing to ferry it on your own when finally she passes?”

“Yes.”

“So you agree to accept for all her sins, as well as your own and to pay thrice for your time on earth?”

“Um… yes.”

“Let it be done, then.”

He squeezed the young man’s hand and the blood dribbled into the bowl.

“Is this your wife’s hair?” He plucked a single strand of red hair off of the young man’s shirt and before waiting for an answer tossed it in the bowl.

A puff and a wheeze later and he tipped the contents into a glass vial and handed it to the young man.

“You must do this on a full moon, or at twilight. You must not dilute it in water or food, it must be full strength. You must not allow it to be touched by anyone at all, not even an animal. Repeat after me:

Bound by light,

Bound in soul,

Bind me always,

As was foretold”

The young man repeated it.

“You must do this with light in the sky. If you want your wife back you will not even let shadow touch her. Do you understand?”

Hope and happiness blinded the young man, who stood trembling with excitement. “Yes, sir.”

As Miklmas watched him leave with the vial, he had a deep sense of foreboding.

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