Sunday, 19 June 2022

'Red brews love potion #22' by Maria Thomas

At midnight Red takes her penknife and forages braces of brown-capped mushrooms, slicing bone-white flesh and organza gills into crescent-moons, before adding them to the fermenting mixture in the copper-bottomed cauldron.

The potion - eye of newt, snakeskin slithers, mermaid scales, fragments of a love poem written on almond paper, six drops of bad blood – is squeezed with drops of longing, dashes of desire and stirred effervescent. She adds sprinkles of spirulina, pinches of chia, handfuls of goji. It’s not traditional, but it might help the taste, and they’re superfoods anyway.

Red dances beneath super-moons, undulating like a cobra, hood raised, sidewinding across the dandelion lawn.

Wolf dances beneath super-moons too.


Red meets Wolf – where else - in a bar. Wolf’s sitting by the door drinking Old Fashioneds, collar of his coat raised like the Fonz. Wolf wants, in exactly this order:

a fire-engine red Pontiac Firebird,

a cabin by a lake where he can spend his days hunting and fishing, and

a girl with curves and strawberry curls, seeking foolery, not fondness.

Red wants love, love, love, the whole shebang, hearts and flowers, true romance, a love story, the full freakin’ fairytale.

She recognises Wolf. He’s hungry. He’s thirsty. He wants.

One drop, two drops, three. That’s all it takes to fell Wolf. Three drops stirred into an Old Fashioned like sugar, then Wolf to recognises Red too, looking at her like dawn breaking.

Outside a fire-engine red Pontiac Firebird waits, trilling impatience. They drive out of town, top down, wind blowing the sticks out of their hair, hand holding hers holding the stick-shift.

Red’s ready, ready to shake this dust-domed, dust-doomed town off her shoes and fly.

In a Gladstone bag lie flasks of love potions #23, 24, 25. Red hopes she won’t need them.

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