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June 29, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge – The Random Song Title Jamboree

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , — Eva Therese @ 11:41 am

This weeks Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig was to take a random song and use the title as inspiration for a story. I hit random on my iTunes collection and got Dusty Springfield: Just a little lovin’. This is what I did with it.

The bell over the door rang as Laura was placing the small bottles with hangover-remedies on the counter for easy access. Saturdays always saw a lot of trade in those.

The man entering the shop had a nervous, haggard look with stubble and dark circles under the eyes. As he came closer, a whiff of bodily odour reached her, even through the smells of herbs and flowers, and told her that it had been a while since he had last showered. He was wearing a long, bulky winter coat, despite the mild weather.

“How can I help you?” Laura asked.

“I need … I need a love potion.” His voice was hoarse.

Laura nodded and turned to the shelf behind her, taking down a small bottle containing a purplish liquid. “Now this,” she began, what she liked to think of as her disclaimer speech, “will not make anyone fall head over heels in love with you, but it will make them positively minded towards you. What you do after …”

He interrupted her. “Not good enough. I need a real love potion, not some placebo.”

Laura’s smile disappeared. The effect of the potion was very real. Sure, she mixed in purple food colouring and rosemary for the scent, but that was simply what people expected. “There is no potion that can make a stranger fall head over heels in love with you,” she explained, a bit stiffly. “Anyone who has told you that is a charlatan.”

“Not a stranger. My girlfriend. My … ex-girlfriend. I want her back. I need her back. I can’t live without her.”

“Why did she break up with you?” asked Laura.

“I … I wasn’t a good boyfriend. I took her for granted.” He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. I’ll make it up to her. I’ll be the best boyfriend she could ever want. But she won’t believe that I’ve changed. I just need a chance. Please help me. Please!”

Laura gathered up as much sympathy for the man as she could muster, which admittedly wasn’t much. She knew people like that; treated their girlfriends or boyfriends like crap and then, when they finally got kicked out, they came crawling back, promising the sun and the moon. “I can’t help you,” she said. “Maybe your ex will come around on her own, but if not, she’s not the only woman on the planet.”

“She’s the only one for me! And I’m the one for her! I just need your help to make her realise it!”

Laura snapped. “I already said no! As did she, apparently, and you need to learn to take that for an answer. What you want is tantamount to mind control and even if I could help you, I wouldn’t. Now, good day, Sir.” She pointed at the door.

“I was afraid you might say that.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun. “Give me a love potion or I’ll kill you. And make it something real or I’ll be back and kill you.”

Laura looked up from the gun, looking the man straight in the face. “There isn’t a love potion, which can do what you want.” She lifted her hand to cut him off before he could say anything or threaten her again. “However, I can give you something else.”

She turned to the shelf and took down another small bottle, opaque with a dark liquid inside.

The man licked his lips. “What does it do?”

“It contains fear.”

“Fear? I don’t need that. I could make her fear me myself, if I thought it would do any good, but I can’t scare her into being with me.”

He said can’t, thought Laura, not won’t. “It won’t make her afraid of you, just the opposite. It will make her afraid of losing you.”

“Afraid … of losing me?” He stared at the bottle almost in awe. “But will that work?”

Laura shrugged. “Depends on how you define ‘work’. It won’t make her love you, not even like you. But she will be afraid of being without you. You won’t even have to change. You can do as you’ve always done and she might end up hating you with every fibre of her being, but she won’t dare to leave.”

“But she won’t love me?” whispered the man and Laura could see the struggle in him painted clearly in his expression.

She shrugged again. “What is love if not fear? Fear of hurting the other, but mostly fear of being hurt, fear of leaving and being left. When you get right down to it, love,” she emphasised the words, “is terror.”

“I …” The man tore his gaze from the bottle and looked at her. And he finally looked her straight in the eyes. He backed away.

“I don’t want … I’m sorry … I’ll …” He kept on walking backwards, tried to pocket the gun, but dropped it instead, made a half-hearted grasp for it, the changed his mind. He backed into the door, turned around and slammed it open, sending the bells into a frenzy of jangling and ran outside.

Laura waited about half a minute before going over, closing the door and locking it before hanging up the ‘Closed’ sign. The hung over people would have to just go without a remedy today. A little suffering was good for the soul.

On her way back to the counter she stooped and picked up the gun with two fingers and a look of distaste. She carried it into the back-room to where a shoebox was sitting on a shelf. She pulled out the box and opened it with one hand, put the gun down with the small assortment of other weapons, then closed it and put it back. Then she wiped her hands on her pants legs and started thinking about what she would do with the day. Maybe make some more potions for memory and concentration; after all, the exam period would start soon.


March 17, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Cocktail Challenge

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , , — Eva Therese @ 10:53 am

This weeks Flash Fiction Challenge, as always courtesy of the lovely and bearded Chuck Wendig was to randomly generate a cocktail recipe, then use the name of the cocktail as the title of the story. Actually making the cocktail and drinking it while writing was optional, but I’m sure recommended; I skipped that party however. My cocktail/title was ‘Mojo’.

The bag is small and made by hand, without much skill, from leather. She keeps it open with one hand as she puts in a number of small objects. They’re what a small child might consider a treasure; a white feather, a sea shell, a coin and finally – the only thing she herself believes might be good for anything – a few dried springs of mint. They smell as fresh and sweet as a summer morning and the scent tugs at her heart before she closes the bag and wraps the leather string tightly around the opening, before tying a couple of knots.

It’s done. If the buyer should open the bag and look in it – she always tells them not too, but of course some of them do anyway – they’ll find a collection of objects that looks appropriately witch-like; they’ll find what they expect to find in a good-luck charm.

She gets up, clutching the bag in one hand, as she puts on her coat. It’s all nonsense of course. Good luck cannot be gained from feathers and coins and the mint is simply there, because she likes the smell. It’s amazing that anyone would think otherwise, but then again they probably don’t. They probably tell themselves that the bag is placebo, something to put them in a positive frame of mind, yaddayaddayadda. After all, you make your own luck, don’t you? They have no idea how right they are.

She steps out on the busy side street, the bag still in her hand. The wind is blowing and it’s cold to be without gloves but it works better this way. A woman brushes past her, just some woman. She doesn’t even catch her face, she’s just a blur of curly, dark brown hair rushing past and then she’s gone. But she touches her bare hand holding the bag and a bit of luck is snatched from the woman and caught in the bag.

She looks after the woman, but she is already gone in the crowd. This day and the next day will be a bit rougher than usual, but nothing more than that.

The witch continues down the pavement. She doesn’t touch people herself, she doesn’t have to. They brush her in passing and, like a pocket thief collecting wallets, she steals small amounts of good luck, a day here, a couple of days here, maybe a whole week. One man walks into her and tells her to look where she’s going, as if he wasn’t the one talking on his phone. She gets a lot from him, three whole weeks and then watches without any emotion as he fumbles with his phone, drops it and it shatters.

Now the small bag is full and she puts in her pocket. She stops in front of a window, pretends to look at the display, without even seeing what’s there, while she rubs her hands together and blows on them, in a vain attempt to get some warmth in them. Then she puts her hand in her other pocket and pulls out another small leather bag. It looks like the first one and contains much the same thing except that there’s a mouse skull rather than a feather and anise seeds instead of mint. She’s been putting off doing this for days – she dislikes this even more than gathering good luck – but the buyer is getting impatient and she’s paid in advance.

With a sigh she turns away from the window and starts moving through the crowd again. She keeps her gaze firmly at the ground. If she looks up, looks at the people around her, she’ll lose her nerve. She’ll start flinching away from some and move towards others and try to decide who deserves it, but she is no judge of that. So she just keeps her head down, the bag clutched tightly in her hand and someone brushes towards her and she draws bad luck from them.

The thing about luck, the difference between good and bad, is that good luck just is, like money or ice-cream. You can take it from someone and give it to someone else and then they’ll have good luck and the first person won’t. But bad luck, it’s like a disease. Spreading the infection does not make a sick person any less sick. And with bad luck it will make them worse.

She walks slowly, almost dragging her feet, causing people around her to grumble and outright curse at her. She looks at no one, she doesn’t want to see their faces, she doesn’t want to recognize them on the news ‘Walked in front of a truck’ or ‘Came home and surprised a burglar’ and know that she was the cause of their misfortune. She tries to be careful, limit the risk, taking just a few hours from each person, but people are bumping into her and when someone shoves her from behind, causing her to stumble and almost trip, she reacts without thinking and draws almost a whole week. She spins around wildly looking for the person. It was too much! She has to undo it! But she doesn’t know who it was and people are passing her by without looking at her.

The bag in her hand feels heavy even to her numb hand. It’s full or as close as makes no difference. It’s enough. She puts it away, then buries both of her hands in her pockets, trying to get them warm. She can feel the two small bags filled with the good and the bad luck. They feel the same. But after all, it’s not what kind of luck you get, but what you chose to do with it. She knows that better than most.


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