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Coalite – Chapter 1

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“Yeah, sorry but there’s no such thing as Insta-Beauty in a bottle,” the girl droned from behind the counter. “If I were you, I’d kick the diet soda for starters and drink water instead.”

“But, but, but you’re a witch – thought this was something you could do!” the customer wailed on the other side of the counter. She leaned over the counter and blinked through raccoon eyes of blue mascara.

The girl crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head, trying to hide her disgust. This brat was one of the many idiots who stumbled into her shop looking for a miracle cure, whether it be a weight-loss potion or some spell that would instantly make her the prettiest girl in school overnight.

An older woman emerged from the back, drying her hands off on her apron. She patted the sobbing customer’s hand and gave her a smile.

“Now dearie, try not to cry,” the older woman said. She looked over at the girl aiding the customer and asked her to grab some of the fresh carrots that were picked from the garden. The girl shrugged her shoulders before pushing back the curtain covering the back room and searching the stock for the carrots. She heard the sink running and she saw that the carrots were sitting in the sink, the water still running.

We’re in a drought Gran, she thought as she turned the knobs off. She picked up the carrots and dried them off with her apron.

“Can you mash some up Lenny?” Gran called from the front. “Mix it with a bit of honey and lemon juice too.”

“Sure,” Lenny answered. She pulled down a pestle and mortar from the shelf above the sink and wiped them clean with her apron. She reached for a knife in the cutting block and began chopping the carrots into smaller pieces, placing them into the mortar. Lenny grabbed a lemon from the bowl and cut it open, squeezing one half of the lemon into the mortar and wrapping the other half for later. She pulled the honey container from the tray holding Gran’s varieties of tea and shook it upside down to get the sticky stuff to run down to the tip. She squeezed a bit into the mortar and replaced the container before mashing the mess together.

This was just a basic mask that Gran was probably going to give this girl to use for a while. No magic with this one – anyone could have figured that out. Sometimes she just wished that Gran would let these morons figure it out the hard way instead of giving them false hope. They already had a rather distorted perception of who they were and what they were capable of in the mortal realm – no point in trying to play up to it.

The concoction began to resemble a slightly lumpy paste that had a very orange hue to it. Lenny removed an empty container from the cabinet and filled it with the contents of the goop. She screwed the lid on tightly and wiped away the remnants with a paper towel. She sighed deeply and brought the jar out to Gran and the customer who was having a meltdown about going to prom or homecoming or whatever with the best boy and blah blah. She heard it all before – hot guy asks not-so-hot girl out and she freaks out over her appearance before the whole ordeal. 80% of the cases that came through here ended up in tears because they were ridiculed publicly a la Carrie, 15% were stood up, and the rare 5% got their fairytale ending. This one wasn’t bad looking to begin with but she could do without the blue mascara, last decade’s smoky eye, and the fading ombre ends on her hair.

Gran accepted the jar and handed it over to the girl with a smile, telling her to use it every night before 7:17 PM in dim lighting. The girl accepted the jar curiously and asked for the cost. Gran stated that it was free of charge. The girl brightened and practically skipped out the door, clutching the jar tightly to her chest.

Lenny rolled her eyes and shook her head. “I hope that’s it Gran,” she said.

Gran shot her a look and turned to face her granddaughter. “I didn’t tell her that special time for no good reason,” Gran said with a knowing look in her eyes.

Lenny groaned and threw her hands up in the air. “Gran! You can’t keep helping these sob cases!” she said. “At some point, it’s gonna come back to get us.”

Gran sighed and removed her apron. “I saw no reason to not help that poor young lady,” Gran replied. “And besides dearie, not everyone is endowed with your looks.”

“There’s so few of us left Gran,” Lenny said. “We can’t draw too much attention to ourselves. Remember what happened to your friend Rose?”

“I’m being cautious, trust me,” Gran replied. She patted Lenny on the shoulder and studied her. She looked nothing like her late daughter – rather more like her own mother or Lenny’s great-grandmother. The black-brown hair that fell in razor-ended layers, the medium blue eyes, and the fair complexion with peachy undertones made her a spitting image of her mother back in her prime. But that’s about where the similarities ended – her granddaughter was blunt, hot-headed, and distrustful of everyone whereas her mother was a free-spirit with a smile on her face and an eagerness to help others in need.

Lenny sagged her shoulders and looked around the shop before meeting Gran’s eyes again. “I’m sorry Gran,” she said. “Look, its just, I don’t wanna lose you because you did something that could have been avoided.” She paused before wrapping her Gran in a hug.

“You’re all I have left,” she said, forcing herself to hold in tears that she refused to shed. She hated crying, especially in front of people.

Gran embraced her back and smiled. “Dear, I know that you worry about this old bag of bones but don’t you worry too much,” she said. She let go of her granddaughter and held her at arms length.

“You should answer that, I think its your friend Val,” Gran guessed before the phone rang.

Lenny laughed as she walked over to the phone and picked it up. “Hello?”

“Hey you,” Val replied. “So there’s this sick nightclub that opened up downtown and I’m dyyyying to go scope it out. You game girlie?”

Lenny bit her lip and jutted her right hip out as she leaned against the wall. Val liked partying and checking out hot guys at the places they went, as well as ranking them on her RevUzs profile for everyone to see. But lately Val had been trying to pair her off with random strangers at these places and it was starting to drive her crazy. Val couldn’t see it, but Lenny noticed that she always seemed to end up with another, well non-human, like herself. Never any other warlocks like her but the last few were a weird combo of a Zohu (part zombie part human), a vampire, and some kind of gila monster man who liked flicking his tongue out a lot. The latter got too close and Lenny nearly tore his tongue out of his scaly head with her bare hands. Val was upset and bought the guy a drink to make up for it. But in Lenny’s defense, the guy had been trying to put his tongue past the back part of her shirt.

Gran was watching her and waved at her to go. She mouthed that Lenny should go, maybe wear those new shoes and leggings that they just bought.

Lenny shot her a weak smile and straightened up. “Yeah sure I guess,” Lenny said. “But no matchmaking tonight – just wanna have it be a girls night only.”

“Deal,” Val said. “I’ll swing by your place in 30 minutes?”

“Yeah sounds good,” Lenny said. “See you.”

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