by Lillian Csernica on May 7, 2018
Today’s fortune says:
A surprise gift from another will make a lasting impression.
The Kindness of Cousins
Bennie stirred the potion with a copper rod. Three circles right, three circles left. If he’d added the ingredients in strict accord with the recipe, the copper rod would show it by remaining clean and shiny. Taking a deep breath, Bennie lifted the rod out of the potion.
Bennie flung the corroded rod into the corner where three other rods already lay. He didn’t want to dump out another three hours’ work. He didn’t want to start again. He did want to complete the potion and show Magister Verlaine proof that not all of the Magister’s harsh criticisms were valid.
Bennie grabbed an earthenware mug in the shape of a toadstool and poured himself a beer. He wasn’t the best at making potions, but he did brew a damn fine beer.
A flutter of wings drew his attention to the window. The shutters were open wide to keep the fresh air blowing in and dissipating the fumes from the potion. A red shouldered hawk hopped down from the windowsill and gave Bennie an expectant look. A small cloth pouch hung round the hawk’s neck on a cord.
“Oh, hello, Alistair.” Bennie picked up a dish of seed corn from the kitchen shelf. “Here you go.” He set the dish on the floor.
Alistair straightened up and bit through the cord around his feathered neck. The pouch fell to the floor and Alistair fell on the seed corn, pecking away. Bennie gathered up the pouch, wondering what Alma May had sent him this time. His cousin had already survived the rigors of Magister Verlaine’s teaching style. The pouch contained a small scroll and a single peridot as big as the tip of his thumb.
“Greetings, Benedict. I hear you’re mixing the Contrass Potion. Let me give you a short cut. Grab a fresh copper rod. Three turns left, drop the peridot in the potion, then three turns right. Check your rod, then hold this scroll in the fumes.”
With a profound sense of relief, Bennie drained his mug of beer and snatched up a fresh rod. Setting the mug aside, he took a deep breath, stirred three circles left, then dropped the peridot into the potion. Three circles right, and—
Lavender light burst upward from the potion, blinding Bennie and sending him staggering backward. He tripped over a stack of books and fell sprawling. The rod. The rod! Shaking off the slight spinning in his head, Bennie staggered up and yanked the copper rod from the potion. Clean. Shiny. Perfect!
Bennie let out a shout of delight. He grabbed the scroll and held it over the potion. Alma May’s writing faded out. New writing scribbled itself across the scroll.
“Look in the mirror. What color do you see?”
Puzzled, Bennie hurried over to the round mirror hung over his sink. He hadn’t heard of the Contrass Potion affecting the silver backing of mirrors, but if it could corrode copper, it might blacken silver as well.
Bennie stared into the perfectly ordinary mirror. His face was now a lovely shade of lavender, made all the more bizarre by the scattering of green bumps. The scroll in his hand stung his fingers with a sudden mild burst of magic. He held it up to read the new message.
“Rule One: Never take short cuts. Rule Two: Never trust a sudden free offer of help. MV will accept the potion, but the price for your gullibility is seven days of wearing this face. Much love, your laughing cousin.”