The Bucket Potion | Teen Ink

The Bucket Potion

December 27, 2022
By Books_And_Scribbles PLATINUM, Adelaide, Other
Books_And_Scribbles PLATINUM, Adelaide, Other
20 articles 13 photos 12 comments

A young human child jumps slippery rain-soaked steppingstones in her mother’s garden. A small bucket, to match the size of her hands, leaps with each colourful slap of little buttercup gumboots on solid grey ground. Falling rainwater trickles into the human child’s bucket, bouncing from the static filled sky to the blue plastic bottom, and gathering together inside it.

 The child ceases her jumping to inspect one of her mother’s prizes rose bushes. Rain is tapping music on its leaves and hammering the delicate buds and wilting roses. The human child takes a small plump hand from her bucket handle and carefully pries soft pink crinkled pages from a flower, placing the petals in her bucket.

The girl continues, her buckets collection grows. Two wet weirdly-shaped pebbles, a branch of eye-length pointed mint white leaves, a piece of reddish bark along with quite a number of fascinating bugs, a sunset-coloured mushroom, and a large globlet of chocolate mud. All fantastic ingredients. All are plopped into the bucket.

 The human wipes her muddy hands on her raincoat. A tear shaped raindrop travels her skin beside her eye, dripping from her chin. The moment is thick with the silence of pattering rain.

A door bangs open from somewhere in the fog, and a new, wilder, older, human rushes into view. “Whatareyou doing?” The new child has a voice. A loud, rowdy, zooming voice.

You’re getting wet! All wet, and soggy. Oh. oops. I don’t have a raincoat! I'm getting rained on.” As he talks his arms fling this way and that way. You can see the excitement of his words. He laughs at the absence of his raincoat and looks down at his bright knitted jumper as the rain takes it. “Whatareyou doing?

The girl shows him her bucket. He looks into it with fascination.   

What is it?” He doesn’t seem to know. “What is it for?

The quiet child’s face squeezes and twists with distaste, but she puts down the bucket and explains, with a newfound language softer than her rose petal pages, shaper than needle leaves.

Oh! Fun!” The loud human exclaims. “Fun, fun, fun. But the rain is getting me. I’ve gotta go. I’ll come back; I’ll be back.

The boy dances towards the door again, away from the rain. Away from the first child. She watches him go.

The quiet child walks further and leaves her baby-blue bucket on a sturdy patch of stone under the place the veranda gutter drains like a waterfall on a gushing river, letting it overflow with rain while she gets to work. She pulls sticks off saplings and scrapes twigs from the garden bed underbrush. The human youngling arranges a few stones into a circle, a fairy ring, even though those sorts of things are useless to humans. She finishes the layout by setting the branches into a miniature tepee pyramid inside the magical-seeming stone circle.

It is a pretend human fireplace.

The girl raises a smooth twisting cream-coloured branch and waves it like a wand. Her lips pucker into a whoosh, and her imaginary flame sparks into life.

The bucket, filled with rainwater and garnished with limp floating petals, mushroom and leaves, is hung above the magical fire, with great heaving and difficulty under the liquids weight. The human girl crouches beside the little cauldron, the hem of her pink raincoat dabbing the wet earth. The pretend branch wand is dipped into the potion and swirled to mix the garden ingredients together. The petals and leaves flutter in the current like dandelion in the breeze.

 Her hand is inserted and surfaces with a dripping piece of tree attached in its grip, a trembling rose petal clinging to the bark edge for dear life. The bark is shaken, sending murky spatters onto the girls already dirty clothes, then laid beside the fairy ring. The weird stones too are removed from the bottom of the bucket. They are of no use to the girl, now that the potion is ready. You cannot drink rocks.

 The water, now faintly coloured leaked rose green and dirt red, is lifted from the fireplace with the care of someone who has mothered cotton stuffed babies for the whole of her life. The stick is raised once more, and something is muttered over the water, a spell surely.

A little porcelain teacup is dunked into the potion, filled to the brim, raised to her lips…

There's a clunk from the house, and two heavy booted running feet thump their way down to the potion child's cauldron.

Hey! Hey! Wow, it’s cold out here, are you cold? I’m cold. And wet. But I’ve got my raincoat now!” Sound rushes from the boy’s mouth like a river. “Oh, you finished making it? Can I try? What’s it do?

The girl puts the teacup down. He needs to get another one, another cup, she says.

Yes, yes, okay. What’ll it do? What magic is it?

We’ll find out.

The boy runs off and comes back with a plastic cup.

Will this do? I thought it would do. Can we actually drink it, you think? What’ll it taste like? What did you put in it?

The quiet child shrugs.

The loud one’s big eyes glitter with sunlit ocean sparks. “Lets do it, come one, lets drink it.

 She takes his plastic cup, and dips it in, fills it to the brim, gives it back.

They take the mismatched cups between their childish fingers, and lift them, and tip them. The strange concoction fills their cheeks and coats their tongues and sloshes down their throats.

There is a pause as they gulp, and swallow, and taste.

The boy splutters, and spits and laughs. The girl giggles and gasps. The remaining potion splashes onto the ground and the rain pounds it until it blends in with the rest of the wet.

The boy jumps up and down. His boots clatter on wet cobbles.

It tastes like beetles and wet socks!” He yelps. “Like dirty carpets and nettle leaves!” 

Yum, the girl says, the edges of her mouth perking like the ears of a dog.

The boy rubs his stomach. “Delicious!

They grin at each other through the falling water and thick air.

 Definitely delicious. They agree. Spectacularly delectable. Delightful. Flavoursome. The single best thing they’ve ever tasted. 


The author's comments:

Something I wrote for a Reedsy prompt to 'Write a story about a magic potion, which may or may not work
(I'm not so sure about the ending yet so if anyone has alternate endings feel free to share. Sorry, I suck at endings...)
Feedback is welcome and wanted : )

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