Read the first story here: The Alchemist.
Laura looked up from behind the counter, where she had been re-reading one of Paracelsus’ works on alchemy, parsing through to see what she could work on before the depression of not having had a customer in three days set in for the afternoon. She was startled to see Carly standing in the doorway, looking fearful and somewhat desperate.
Carly and Laura had gone to school together. Carly had been extremely popular, naturally possessing the thin yet buxom body people paid thousands of dollars to emulate, and a classically beautiful face to boot. Laura, our hardworking alchemist, had always been a shy, intelligent and awkward nerd, who had grown into her body and unusual-yet-appealing looks as the years had passed.
“Hi Laura,” Carly said anxiously. “I, uh, wow, this place is neat. I didn’t know you had a shop here in town!”
Laura smiled her most winning smile. “Yeah, we’ve been open for a few weeks now. Business has been a little slow, but I'm hoping that will change soon. What can I do for you?”
Carly had been nervously fiddling with various jars and bottles on the packed shelves, picking them up and setting them down with barely a glance at what each container held.
“Well, I… I'm not really sure what I need, exactly. I've just… I should go,” she said, turning on her heel to head out the door.
“No, please stay!” Laura said. “Here, I have something for you. We call it aqua vitae, and it's my special blend of herbs and something a little stronger. It'll steady your nerves.” She filled a small mug from the samovar behind the counter, and passed it over to Carly.
“Thanks,” Carly said, taking the mug and slowly sipping. A smile spread across her face. She felt better already.
A few hours and multiple cups of aqua vitae later, the ladies had officially shut down the shop and stayed up late, talking about anything and everything. Turns out, Carly had secretly envied Laura for years, and had never known how to approach her about being friends. She was intimidated by Laura's intelligence, strong will, and intense dedication to learning. Everyone had always just seen Carly for her looks, and she was tired of it. There was much more beneath the surface to Carly, and Laura had been too intimidated by the surface to even try to plunge into the depths.
Carly looked at her watch. “Oh, shit, I have to go!” She jumped out of her seat, scurrying towards the door.
“Wait!” Laura slurred behind her. “Here, have one of these,” she said, pressing a lodestone into Carly’s hand. “It will help you attract good people into your life.”
Carly smiled broadly, accepting the stone. “I think it's already working.”
Scent Notes: Fizzing key limes topped with coconut cream, served on a black linen tablecloth