it'll ruin you
The night was young. The girl had completed her weekly errands and was headed home to her friend, when she reached the familiar fork in the path. The one that led directly home had been closed off, the other, longer road, her only available option.
Never, I repeat, never go down that road, her friend had warned her, oh so many times, People who go down that road never return the same. But she didn’t have a choice. So she set off, down that twisting street, with nothing but a cape on her shoulders and a bag in her hands.
At first, the street was quiet. The shops and houses were dark.
After several minutes of silence, a door flew open and a teenaged boy stumbled out, bottle in his hand.
“Are you okay?” she asked him.
His eyes were dazed when he looked at her, silent. When he screwed his bottle open she was shocked. Was it laughter that she heard coming from it?
“Is- what are you drinking?” she asked.
He shook his head, “-her laugh.”
She found herself rushing to get away. Her friend had told her scary things happen in this part of town. Something called…
-love, he’d called it, People fall, and sometimes they break, sometimes they don’t, but mark my words, they’re never the same. Never.
An eerie feeling fell over her then. People had started filling the street. Crowds had gathered, singing of love and affection, somehow drunk on another’s laugh. She didn’t understand. She shouldn’t have come. She shouldn’t have come.
Her friend’s words came back to her. Love, a scary thing, it’ll ruin you.
She ducked her head and skirted through the crowds, the street eventually empty again.
Her attention was caught by a shop window. Her steps echoed as she made her way to the glass, peering inside.
There was an odd assortment of glass bottles. The labels on them were what had sparked her curiosity.
The way his hair catches the light.
-what? None of it made sense to her.
She felt a tap on her shoulder, and she jumped, turning to see a teenaged boy, around her age, in a grey, wool cape.
“Would you like to come inside?” he asked her.
She would love to.
“I don’t think it would be smart,” she said.
He was silent. He looked to his right, then back at her.
“Perhaps not. But don’t you see? This is a work of fate.”
“I don’t believe in fate.”
“Yet- I know for a fact that when I walk inside, you’ll follow me,” he shakes his head, “You can’t help it.”
Then he walked inside. She stood, staring at the window. So intriguing.
The bell jingled when she walked through the door. The walls were grey, and the rug was blue. There was a counter, and behind it, wooden shelves upon wooden shelves of corked, glass bottles.
There were little, thin, and tall ones, all filled with a sort of shimmery dust. An odd assortment indeed.
The boy was waiting behind the counter, he washed his hands in a sink, then wiped them on a towel.
“What can I get for you?”
“Oh, no, I just… I just have a few questions.”
He smiled. “Sure.”
“Who are you?” she asked.
He spread his arms wide, gesturing to the bottles behind him. “It’ll come with a price.”
She sighed. “What are they?”
He considered her question. Then he walked to a shelf, retrieving one, small bottle.
“I’ll allow a free sample.”
She shook her head, “Oh, no.”
“-it’s harmless, really.”
She looked at him, and somehow trusted his word.
He reached into his cape, pulling out a paint brush, dipping it into the shimmery dust of the bottle labeled ‘his name’. He flicked one finger, motioning for her to come near.
She walked up to the counter, the black granite pressing into her stomach. He lifted the brush, dusting it onto her shut eyelids.
Then -she gasped- a whisper.
Kor Sevryn, then, a small flutter in her stomach.
She opened her eyes, “That was-”
“Nice?” he said.
“Your name is Kor?”
His eyes lit up. “You heard my name?”
“Try this,” he retrieved another, labeled ‘his laugh’.
She remembered the drunk boy. “Oh, no, that wouldn’t be smart.”
“-but, do you want to try it?”
He dusted some onto her eyelids, and her stomach did a flip. She heard the most peculiar -no- beautiful laugh.
She opened her eyes. “More.”
“With a price.”
She set her bag onto the counter. He smiled.
He set several bottles in front of her.
She read one and furrowed her brows, ‘Hearing his name in every crowd after he’s gone’… ?
She watched him retrieve an empty bottle, then pointed to the ones she wanted.
‘The tilt of his head in the sunlight’, ‘the way he sounds when he calls your name’, ‘a trusted secret given to you’, your first kiss on that rainy evening’… and more she had been captivated by.
She paid with what she had in her bag; coins, small flowers she’d collected, ink bottles. Her thirst was growing with every second. He measured dust from the different bottles, mixing it with a blue liquid.
“Drink, at your own risk.”
But she yearned to drink it -it was calling her name- nothing could stop it.
Their fingers brushed when he handed her the bottle. Her friend’s words came back to her, ‘it’ll ruin you’.
But how bad could it be? It was exhilarating and it made her stomach flutter. It was beautiful.
‘Never the same, never’.
“Enjoy.” Kor said.
This bottle- it must’ve held everything Kor was -his smile, his laugh- his everything.
“I don’t know you,” she said.
His eyes flickered. “You will.”
She took a deep breath, her mind racing, and pressed the bottle to her lips. Nothing could’ve stopped her then.
As soon as she took a sip, she realized it was poison.