The Elixary of the Evanescent Market
by Marina Ermakova
Iris eyed the interior of the carriage with caution as the train came to a screeching halt. Potions clinked against the clamps which held them in their travel positions, but didn’t come loose in a crash of shattering glass. A wheeled cart smashed against the wall it was tied to, yet failed to dislodge from its bindings and turn into a bludgeoning projectile.
There was still the other carriage, the one that served as a workshop instead of a storefront, but Aunt was inside of it. Aunt had decades more experience with combustible potions than she did.
Which meant that everything had arrived intact, and Iris could allow herself to relax.
The creak of metal hinges signaled Aunt’s arrival though the carriage door. The older woman set a brisk pace for the glass cabinets, bolted in place. Iris rushed to help in unclasping the vials, knowing they had a small window of time before the train announced its arrival to potential customers.
“You will be on your own, so remember never to open the orange potions,” Aunt lectured her. “I specifically color the dangerous ones orange.”
“I know,” Iris said, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. She was not going to magically forget everything she’d learned in the past few years just because Aunt didn’t remind her.
“And if a customer becomes unruly — ”
“Aunt, I know.”
Aunt stopped loosening one of the clasps and turned piercing gray eyes upon her apprentice. “Iris,” she admonished. “You may believe nothing will go wrong. Most likely, nothing will go wrong. But there is a real possibility of danger, and if that should happen . . . what would you even do?” A glint of concern appeared behind her eyes. “Perhaps I should stay.”
Alarm rose within Iris. “No, no, I’m sorry! I am taking this seriously. I even have a list of all your instructions written down.”
What would she do if Aunt decided not to visit her friend after all? If she continued to hover over the shop, watching Iris’s work, she would intercept customers before Iris could handle them! How long would it be before Iris had another opportunity for freedom, where her every move did not need to meet with Aunt’s approval?
Aunt’s sharp eyes raked over her apprentice’s apologetic form. “All right,” the woman finally said, the words like a weight being lifted. “Hurry up, then, and get this dreary place decorated.” (Continue Reading…)