Beautiful Paradox

Aqua viewed life from the inside of his brown glass bottle. He had a good view from the mantlepiece in Hazel’s woodland cottage, and placed at her eye height, about four and a half feet off the ground, he tended to notice the same things that the little old witch with a crooked back noticed too.

As far as fluids go, it might seem there was nothing special about Aqua. He had no colour, no smell and no taste. But Hazel liked to use him a lot because of his one special power. Solubility. He was able to take away problems by bringing other ingredients together. Beautifully paradoxical!

So were Thursday mornings which were Hazel’s consultation period. She liked the solitary life, but being around people so she could help them with whatever problems they created for themselves. Hazel used Aqua to solve and salve away many of their ailments. And she created a few of her own ailments too; she had a sense of humour – even if the townsfolk didn’t.

“I’ve something special for you today! Come here, why don’t you?”

A papery hand reached for the mantlepiece and the brown bottle floated into her open palm. She removed the glass stopper with a scratchy twist and peered inside, smiling at the silvery surface. A loving chuckle, and Aqua trickled out of the bottle and into the steaming cauldron.

Hazel saved her favourite wooden spoon to stir the contents. She mumbled the necessary chants, and added a few of her own to – as she called it – make it more Hazely. She set the spoon in motion, stirring first one way then doubling back in the other direction, scraping the sides and bottom every now and then to prevent sticking and burning. Satisfied, she smiled and left the spoon to do its own work itself.

Inside the cauldron, Aqua swirled, feeling dizzy as he whirled around the rim of the cauldron. Nettles, spices, lizards’ entrails rushed past, around and through him. He saw a pair of frog’s legs. They were still attached to each other at the pelvis, but separated from its body. Aqua had seen plenty of chickens running around without heads, so he wasn’t surprised to see the frog’s legs still kicking. But he was curious why they kicked in breast stroke fashion when there was no torso – let alone one with any breasts on it – anywhere to be seen.

No. Wait. There it is, caught up in the chicken f...

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Paul Sterlini
Jan 15 2022

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I think I need a visit from Aqua, to take away my problems of enjoying this story!

Paul Sterlini
Jan 16 2022