The bell tinkled as the door was pushed open. The clerk raised his head from the desk sleepily, looking at the cloaked figure before him, a woman of around twenty, or so she seemed to be. One never knew with the customers here, appearances could be deceptive. He caught a glimpse of her eyes and looked away suddenly. He couldn’t explain it, for she had pretty eyes, large, kohl-rimmed. Except-
He shook his head slightly to get rid of the image of a gaping chasm and asked “What can I do for you, Ma’am?”
“I need a love potion. The strongest you have.”
The clerk smiled to himself. This was one of the most common requests. Somewhat disappointing, though. He’d expected her to ask for something different.
In a bored tone, he began reciting the standard disclaimers, ” Three pieces of soul silver per use. No more than one can be sold per month. And… I should warn you it’s strong, but it won’t be as good as the real thing. No refund if it doesn’t work on your man.”
She looked at him unblinkingly, “I don’t need it for a man. I need it for myself. I have to fall in love with someone.”
He gaped. In all his years of working at the store at the corner of Third and Quarter Street, he’d met many kinds of lovers- vengeful, lost, jilted, lonely. Never had he had a customer like this woman- no, a girl, he was almost sure now.
“Excuse me? For yourself?”
“Yes. Do you have something or should I go somewhere else?” She asked tersely, half turning to leave.
“Er, wait. I do have something. I should tell you though, it is experimental. I’m not sure how it will react with your system. But I think it will do the job. If anything can.” He brought out a bottle of silver grey fluid. She snatched it from his hand, but there was no relief or joy, only weariness on her face.
“I’ll be back again next month, I expect you to have it ready. I’ll be needing supplies for ten months.”
He gaped again, “But that’s, that’s thirty pieces of soul silver! Are you sure?” He looked at her in concern.
She smiled a little, “There are some things worth selling your soul for.”
The bell tinkled again as she left.
She tossed the contents of the flask down her throat as she walked down the street and knocked at the door.
A man opened it and gave her a charming smile that turned into surprise as she embraced him and their lips met.
“I love you, angel” he breathed.
“I love you” She smiled
Another month. Another door. Another embrace.
They twirled underneath the stars all night.
“I love you. Do you love me?” he asked.
“More than you can imagine.”She replied
“So you won’t be coming next month then? Did it work?” The clerk asked. She’d become a familiar face, he realized with a pang he’d miss her, if it was possible to miss a customer. There was something about this girl. He knew as little about her as he had ten months ago.
“Yes it worked. As much as it needed to. And no, I won’t be coming again. I don’t need to.” She winked. For the first time, she didn’t look lost.
She giggled to herself as she set out to perform her ritual for the last time.
A week later, she sat curled on her couch, reading, when her doorbell rang.
With a quickening of breath, she got up, and walked slowly, deliberately patient. She’d waited this long, she could wait a bit more. She waited till the bell rang thrice, in a pattern as familiar as her heartbeat.
Opening the door, she found herself clasped in the warmth of an embrace she’d longed to feel, that felt deeper than all the love she’d ‘made’.
Nothing tastes as good as the real thing.