The writing prompt for this exercise was "Fever" by Peggy Lee. This is one of my most favorite songs. The first time I heard it was in a witchcraft store when I was a teen. Other than that one fact, this story is a complete work of fiction. Enjoy!
When Samantha was a teenager, her best friend dragged her to a witchcraft store. It was smoky and dark. The scent of incense hung heavy in the air, clinging to her like a humid summer day. The clerk…a ‘60’s throwback complete with tie dye and bell bottoms…sat behind the counter with a hazy, glassy-eyed expression on her face. Samantha had figured the older woman was high on something but didn’t really give her much thought beyond that. She was too busy drinking in her environment. Boy, if her mother knew that she was here….well... she would be in so much trouble. Samantha’s mother took these sorts of things seriously and would most definitely freak out if she knew that HER daughter was even entertaining the notion of witches, magick, or a way of life that fell short of normal.
But Sam wasn’t really exploring the notion of anything. It was Kendall that brought her here. It was Kendall that was determined put her own mother into cardiac arrest by coming home with a book of spells or some other piece of witch paraphernalia that her mother would certainly disapprove of. Kendall was the rebel in this duo—not Sam. Kendall was the one who wanted shock value. Nevertheless, Sam thoroughly enjoyed the dangerous thrill she experienced as she crept around the shop.
Zip-loc baggies of herbs lined one wall and books…what seemed like thousands of books…covered almost every shelf. Jars labeled with things like ‘Dragon’s Blood’ and ‘Eye of Newt’ were neatly lined up on tables in the middle of the room. This cannot be for real…she thought, and giggled quietly under her breath. People actually buy this stuff?? People actually think this stuff is real?? Samantha was beside herself with disbelief. She knew that Kendall didn’t really believe in any of this nonsense. That girl just wanted to get a rise out of people. And, as thrilling as going behind her own mother’s back and going into that shop was, Sam knew, in her heart, that magick was just the invention of talented storytellers.
Kendall filled her shopping basket with a few books and various ingredients to make some potion or another and brought her items to the counter. She quickly paid and motioned for Sam to follow her out of the shop. As she turned to leave, the clerk grabbed Sam by the arm.
“You think this is all hooey now, Samantha…but you won’t always feel that way. You WILL be back.” Samantha yanked her arm free and ran as fast as she could. She didn’t stop running until she had put several blocks distance between her and the shop. She never told Kendall what had happened and never thought about that day ever again.
Samantha stood outside the shop and could not believe her eyes. She was in her thirties now and somehow the shop had remained all these years. After going inside, she noticed that it hadn’t changed at all. Not a single jar, baggie or book looked different than it had when she was fifteen. Except the clerk…she was definitely different. There was a lovely looking woman, who was close to Sam's age, seated upon a stool next to the counter. She was wearing a peasant skirt and flowing black blouse. Her long, dark curls were held away from her round face by two jeweled hair clips.
“Samantha, you’ve finally returned. Are you a believer now?” Who was this woman? How did she know my name? Sam thought but just stood there silently gazing at the woman.
“People always see what they want to, my child.” Sam shook her head and rubbed her eyes. It was as though the woman had access to Sam's thoughts. Surely this beautiful woman couldn’t be saying what Sam thought she was saying….
Sam gulped and said “I’m not sure if I believe in anything—If I’ve ever believed in anything. But I’m desperate. I need help. I didn’t know where to turn. I…need…him.” A tear slid down Samantha’s freckled cheek.
Desperate. Yes, that was exactly how Sam felt. She hadn’t felt this way in a long time—that sick, maddening pull that came standard with desiring someone. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. Almost every thought was of…him. It sounded ridiculous—like some silly teenage love song but it was her day to day reality. He even invaded her dreams.
She’d had him within her grasp and it had been…well…magical. It was a magic that penetrated her to the core. She felt more inspired and energetic....more beautiful than she’d felt in years. She saw her world with a new found clarity. She felt a restless intensity that could not be calmed.
She couldn’t just let that feeling die could she? She couldn’t just let him walk out her life and take all that magic with him…could she? Just because HE wanted it that way. No. She couldn’t. She wasn’t getting any younger and men weren’t exactly beating down her door anymore. No…she had to fix this. She had to hold onto this man as tightly as she could.
By any means necessary.
The shop clerk retreated to the back of the store and ducked through a beaded curtain into another room. She returned with a small vial of dark purple liquid. She rolled the vial between her palms as if to warm the fluid.
“Desperate times quite often call for desperate measures, my child” she said quietly as she pressed the small glass tube into Sam’s hand. The heat it generated radiated up her arm and warmed her entire body. “Pour this into his drink. Oddly enough, it works especially well in carbonated beverages but any cold drink will do. Avoid hot drinks altogether. Heat has an adverse effect on the potion. This potion will take hold almost immediately and it is next to impossible to reverse. You have to be certain of what you want before you take action.”
Sam peeked into her oversized purse to search for her wallet. The woman stopped her. “There is no charge when it comes to matters of the heart. Just make sure you know what your heart wants”
Sam looked down at the vial nestled in the palm of her hand. She was certain.
When she looked up, the shop was gone and she was standing outside of a corner grocery. The sign on the door read: SODA SALE 99 CENTS.
Thoughts poured through her head. His smile as he stood at just the right angle in the sunshine…holding hands, fingers intertwined…laying her head on his chest late at night. Kisses that made her lose all ability to think coherently. The last time her lips touched his…crying into her pillow night after night…the dull ache she felt when she wasn't able to act upon her feelings…the excruciating realization that he didn’t feel the same way—and most likely never had.
She pushed open the door and walked inside.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures…” she whispered as she reached for the soda.