In the weeks after Carly’s initial visit to Laura’s shop, Carly began coming in more and more often. At first she was alone, but then she started bringing friends, and praising everything Laura touched and made to them. Carly started recommending Laura’s shop to everyone she knew, saying Laura could cure everything from the common cold to insomnia to annoying in-laws. There was nothing Laura couldn't do.
And soon enough, as more and more people began praising Laura for her creations, business grew steadier and steadier, until the shop was packed from open until close almost every day. Laura had to hire two shopgirls to help, and Carly came in and volunteered one afternoon a week, running the cash register while one of the shopgirls took a break, restocking the shelves, or wrangling the cats (particularly Quicksilver) from escaping out of the constantly opening door.
One night, after a particularly busy day, Carly and Laura were sitting at the shop, partaking in some aqua vitae and relaxing. The cats were asleep near the front door; the streetlights cast a warm, comforting glow through the windows that matched the warmth spreading through their chests from the aqua vitae. Everything was peaceful, and both women felt a contentment they hadn't felt in years.
Carly looked over at Laura. “Hey, I never asked you: why is your shop called The Crucible? Do you just really love that play or something? Are you secretly a theatre nerd?
Laura smiled and shook her head. “No. In alchemy, the crucible is the melting pot; it's a necessary tool for mixing and melting and combining. Plus, I really wanted to create a place where all sorts of people could gather and find what they needed, and make a little community. And I think, with your help, I finally did that.”
Carly giggled. “That’s amazing; you're amazing. I wish I could do this kind of thing.”
Laura’s grin widened. “I can teach you. Do you want to learn?”
Carly said sarcastically, “Only if you know how to make gold!”
Laura burst out laughing, then stood up and gestured Carly towards the back room. “Follow me, child; you have so much arcanum to learn!”
Scent notes: smoky palo santo, mysterious absinthe with bright drops of bergamot and oranges, Atlas cedar, sweet fennel, bitter accord