From writing group prompt: Include an apothecary, an escape, a courtyard and a broom.
The white-haired woman pushed her glasses back up to their imprint on the bridge of her nose. She stood by the open door of her natural apothecary, one hand on the wooden handle of her worn old straw broom. She looked left, then right into the empty morning courtyard.
“nobody yet” she spoke to the cat that arched it’s back as it rubbed against her bare leg, static crackling sparks.
To Evangaline, she’d given Larkspur, licorice root and chamomile, for her sore throat and cough. But Evangaline had tormented her in school, spilling ink and lighting fires and shifting blame to Clara. Evangeline advised the younger children: “Clara may be pretty but she has a tail like a pig. Don’t talk to her or you will grow one as well.”
So Clara, the Apothecary added rattlesnake venom to her remedy, and smiled as she handed the vial to Evangaline.
To Rupert she’d given a mustard plaster for chest congestion.
Rupert had forgotten all about the time he had danced with pretty Clara. They had danced to fiddles and flutes and she’d laughed when he first became rough with her, pressing her against the barn wall in the dark. He’d soon stopped her laughter with his violent and inebriated passion.
She added the sting of fire ants to the plaster till it was so caustic she couldn’t breathe the fumes.
Stephan, the town crier and Mayor, whose diet gave him such vapors he remained single still at forty, got the mint tonic indeed, and he drank it too, not even wondering if the talented apothecary would seek vengeance for all of the damage he had done to her good name. “Clara the Whore” he had announced, ringing his brass bell in the center of town, “is with child and doesn’t know who the father is! Clara the loose, vile, evil and unrepentant woman of blackwaterton is to be stoned in the stocks at the courtyard on Sunday.”
They were the last words he uttered and his throat dried and swelled shut, an intended effect of the bit of poison frog skin she had made a reduction of to complement the mint. His eyes bulged as he DID remember, but he couldn’t take a breath or speak a word of apology, loathing or caution as his gaze fixed upon the apothecary’s wooden sign, swinging in the wind caused by the broom she rode as she swept through the sky, laughing and singing incantations of celebration.
Who are ya? Shirley Jackson? So good, Julie.
When are you coming home?