Alchemy And Memory

Alchemy And Memory
📷 by Annie Spratt

With a sudden breath, as though he had just blinked into existence, Juan sat, uncertain, in the corner. His body still and ears perked, his eyes darted around the room. What in the hell was he doing there? In fact, where is “there” in the first place? The room was unfamiliar, crowded, and buzzing with patrons when a familiar scent crossed his nose. Juan's head turned towards the smell as he recognized the earthy blend of Sumatran coffee beans mixed with uncertainty.

His eyes are still darting about as his mind is overwhelmed with sensation. His body awakening slowly. His subconscious becomes aware of his limbs, his limbs become aware of the table on which they rest, and his hands become aware of the note within their grasp. Juan fingers the paper nervously as a waiter approaches.

Attempting to calm his nerves and hide his panic, Juan takes slow, deep breaths. His belly, expanding rather than his chest to mask the effort. He grips the note tightly as the waiter approaches. The gentleman leans forward and places a small cup just beyond Juan's arms.

With a smile, the waiter says in a nurturing timbre, "Should you wish to remember."

Juan's body is now fully awake. Freely his head moves, searching about the room for clues. Where is he, and why? Yet, he knows the answer more than likely lies in this note. Caution be damned, he opens it with eyes fixed on the coffee before him. Its steam, reaching to him like a flower in search of sun. The warmth caresses his face, and the scent begins to knock at the door of his olfactory bulb. He senses a memory just out of reach.

With a long blink and a final deep breath, Juan's eyes shift towards the note.

I am sorry. I do love you, but I should not. I can not. The rules are clear, and I am no romantic. The world is awash with stories of starcrossed lovers doomed to suffer the inevitable. All because they dared to love. I love you too much to let you suffer that consequence. We are a people bathed in ritual, and my coven does not make exceptions. I wish for you to find love, and that is why I have cursed us both. By the time you read this, I will have departed, and my memory of you too will be void. Yet, I've left no such note for myself. Selfish, perhaps, but this is the choice I made. A choice I have no right to make for you. Before you finish this letter, you will likely regain your memory of everything but me. Should you wish to remember, do so knowing - I will not.

– Here's to your next love.

"Blueberry!" Juan shouted; that was the uncertain scent. "Blueberry and, and, the eyelashes of a secretary bird!" It was then that his memory returned. He was Juan of House Delgado, a modest family of Wiccan ancestry. And he's in the Bloody Brew, a coffee shop hidden in the walls of a Morrocan leather tannery. And what he mistook for coffee, is a spell. The only spell that will return the memory of his lost love.

Somberly, Juan works himself to his feet. He folded the note into a small square before straightening his cowl and placing the letter into the brew. As it sinks into the cup, he can hear his own voice, diminutive and distant, scream before succumbing to the drowning.

From inside his jacket, he pulls a wand. A family relic made of intertwined petrified rose stems and fuzed with molten amber. Juan places the tip into the cup and gives it a gentle stir while whispering, "I do not wish to remember."

The brew quickly comes to a boil. Then lightens in hue and calms as the bubbles subside. Before Juan reached the door, the cup lay cool to the touch, filled with the clearest of water.