New voices, new flash-length fantasy.
By E. L. Mitchell
Purple liquid bubbled over the cauldron. Peter grimaced at his ninth failed potion as he thought, it didn’t seem so difficult when Professor Hopps did it. The class had ended long before, it was past five p.m. but he was still there, wasting bat wings, snake fangs, garlic and pig hearts. It was all in the name of the strength the, supposed to be, orange concoction would give him. Professor Hopps didn’t know he had stayed behind, but Peter was sure she wouldn’t mind.
As it turned out, she did. As his ear reddened from her pinch, she dragged him down the grand, but empty, hall muttering about his safety, his feet scuffing the shined wood, he wondered what color the tenth potion had turned. He never got to see. Lucky for him, Professor Hopps had already fixed it, for it was on its way to becoming a gelatinous green mess that might have eaten through the granite floor of the Potions Room if left alone. Peter was punished, by having to practice more after school. But this time, his Professor would watch every move he made, which meant no more strength potion and certainly no samples for the tryouts.
He only had one week left to train, and it wasn’t going well for him. He ended up with burn salve on most of his arm every other day and the wooden dragon still wouldn’t break apart. If Peter couldn’t even slay the mock version, with hollow eyes, how could he disarm the real thing that would stare him down with onyx stones glistening with the pleasure of eating him whole, in just seven days? That was an easy one, he couldn’t. Coach Yunder thought him a pathetic excuse for a boy as it was, but he was almost a man. Seventeen! He had to show Coach, Professor Hopps, he must show them all.
It didn’t go as planned. After class Peter worked on a hair growing potion. It should have turned white, tasted like dirt and felt fuzzy on the way down. Peter’s was about as successful as his purple strength attempt. He had to try the yellow, apple flavored, pudding-like potion he ended up making. Professor Hopps told him that he would have more drive if he had a tail for a week, or sprouted a tree branch from his torso. Alas, Peter’s canary treat left him sick with a green skin tone for two days. Oh, the girls were falling all over him.
His practice for the dragon slaying team, the last year he could play at school, was going equally as horribly. Peter lost one eyebrow, which looked especially wonderful with his green pallor. During one joust toward the carved beast he almost missed the flame, only to realize his favorite royal blue tunic had caught fire and the hand-sewn gold thread was melting down the torched fabric. He was miserable, to say the least.
The end of the week came and Professor Hopps gave him one final after-school lesson. They were going to make a restorative potion. It restored skin, hair or energy when consumed. The ingredient list was long, but the instructions were simple. Two measures of everything, stir clockwise four times, let rest for five minutes exactly, then remove from the heat. As Peter dropped in the various ingredients, including toenails, baby hair, lizard scales, fish ribs, a bat kidney, witch hazel and lavender, he held his breath. Minutes later the potion was cooling and Professor Hopps was looking it over, wafting the steam into her soft, round face and tasting it with a dip of her right pinky. The smile on her face gave Peter the encouragement he needed; he took a spoonful. It tasted like the feeling of restfulness, relaxation, newness; it was all so refreshing.
He would try out for the team.
And he still wouldn’t make it.
Peter took another swig of his potion, which Professor Hopps bottled for him, and watched the gash and large burn disappear. He decided to give up on dragons, leave them to the fighters in the world. He had a new itch, the itch for power. After-school lessons continued, daunting at times. The Potions Room would fill with smoke, frogs would jump in their cages, bats would flutter, but sometimes he would get it right.
It took a long time. Years. Eventually, though, Peter mastered potion making. By the time he was an old man, still using his restorative potion daily, he had created a new recipe. Some thought him mad, some thought him brilliant, but in the end all that mattered, was that Peter would live forever.
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E. L. Mitchell is a happily married writer with EDS who loves magical realism, dark characters, plot twists and commas. She writes more than she sleeps most weeks, but wouldn't have it any other way. E. L. enjoys sharing her adventures in writing, love and living life as a spoonie.
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