My entry in the Angry Hourglass flash frenzy contest this week. The photo prompt below was the inspiration and the word count was 360 max. My story received a 2nd runner-up placement which is a bit surprising considering how marvelous the stories were this week. A big thank you is in order for Image Ronin who had to choose only 3 winners out of 23 potent entries. His comment and insight about my story can be found below.
Second Runner Up
Chris Milam: Becky in a Bottle
“Atmosphere I love a party with an […] atmosphere” a poet for the ages once mused and Chris Milam delivered an unsettling tale soaked in atmosphere. There were numerous tales this week of adoration and potions, yet Becky in A Bottle took us there, and then way beyond the frame. The lament to a lost past and the desire to return was explored and then interwoven into a horror motif that left one repulsed. I found myself pondering the origin of the liver, the fate of our narrator’s past adorations, capped off by his messianic pose. Wonderful.
Henry stirred the simmering aluminum pot with a practised stroke, his arm moving with precision to the beat of Paper Planes by M.I.A. that was bouncing off the kitchen walls. He squeezed in a few drops of essential oils: lavender, jasmine, and lemongrass. The aroma wafting through his nasal cavity was a bit too sweet, he diced a portion of liver and tossed it in along with the petal of the narcissus flower and a sliver of dried tendon. After straining the mixture through a cheesecloth he let it sit and cool for a spell to let the ingredients get acquainted.
Henry checked the customer’s order to make sure everything was correct and poured the liquid into a crystal bottle, using calligraphy to inscribe the label with an Elizabethan flourish. He headed downstairs and placed the glass vial in an ornate black-laquered cabinet. Inside were other atomizers waiting to be picked up with names including: Candice, Timothy, Harriet, and Francis. A few of these belonged to Henry. He fingered each one with a delicate touch, hesitating over Catalina, a former Pomeranian that had chewed up one too many pillows. He smiled at the memory and grabbed the one labelled Becky. He stripped off his clothes, sat in his leather recliner and caressed the bottle, rolling it across his palm, then depressed the bulb, spraying the aromatic concoction into his lonely gash of a mouth. The liquid slid down his teeth and began to gyrate on his tongue, tasting of picnics in the park, cotton candy, betrayal, and tanned skin. He detected a hint of sassafras and blackened lung as well when he spritzed a heavy dose of Becky on his dead organ and felt movement for the first time in months.
Eventually, he moved his nude body into the middle of room and stood with his arms outstretched like Christ on the cross. He sprayed the air above him in a long sweeping arc, the essence of yesterday condensed into a mist of perfume that rained down on his well-coiffed head.
Henry felt young again. Resurrected. His bottle of Becky, those cherished four ounces of liquid rapture preserved in glass.