The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Angela Yuriko Smith
She pulled the bottle off a high shelf and wiped the dust off with her sleeve.The dark brown glass didn’t look like any liquor bottle he’d ever seen. The label was written in a foreign language.
“That doesn’t look like booze,” he said. “It looks like medicine.”
She set the bottle down on the orange crate table between them and sat. Two shot glasses were waiting, one with a hairline crack that didn’t yet leak and the other chipped at the rim. She unscrewed the lid and poured.
“That’s because it’s not just booze,” she said. “It’s absinthe. It’s better than just booze. It’s like medicine for creativity. It opens doors in your mind.” She finished pouring, screwed the lid back on and raised the glass with the hairline crack. “All the great artists in Paris drink it.”
He was already an artist, but his father had destroyed all his paintings when he’d failed his exams. He had run away. He refused to live under a roof where he wasn’t allowed to be who he was. Now he would become a great artist and prove to them all how wrong they were. He picked up his glass and tossed it back in one gulp. It was bitter. She set her glass back down.
“Ugh, you didn’t tell me it tastes like poison,” he said. He spit into the dirt to rid himself of the taste. She unscrewed the cap and carefully poured her shot back into the bottle. “Aren’t you having yours?” he asked. She shook her head.
“This is for you. It will open a door in your mind.”
The aftertaste was terrible—a mix of garlic and steel. He spit again. The booze was beginning to affect him, but only to make him drowsy. The bitter taste lingered on his tongue causing his mouth to flood with saliva. He swallowed it and felt ill.
“I don’t feel creative, I feel sick.” He said. “I’m not so sure it’s working.” His eyes glazed over and he blinked, trying to keep them open. He hadn’t realized how tired he was. His head drooped.
“Oh, it’s not for your creativity. It’s for mine. You just get the door opened.” He slipped off the stool and fell halfway in the dirt, leaning on the crate table for support. He swallowed convulsively, tried to spit again but the saliva just ran down his chin to dangle as a stickly pendulum. There were miniscule ribbons of red twisting through it.
“What… door?” He slipped off the crate and lay on the ground, clenching his middle. He ground his teeth. She stood up and pulled the old shower curtain door closed so they had privacy. She opened up the orange crate and pulled out an old typewriter already loaded with a fresh piece of paper.
“For you, the exit door,” she said. “Now, tell me… what do you see?”
Fiction © Copyright Angela Yuriko Smith
Image courtesy of Nina D’Arcangela
More from Angela Yuriko Smith:
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