That's Not Cooking, That's Sorcery
"That's not cooking," Marie informed me, leaning over the pot on the stove, eyeing it suspiciously. "That's sorcery."
Spoiler alert, it definitely was sorcery, but the only way to get mum to let me use her good boiling pot was to tell her I was cooking. Which, you know, I kind of was. Things were cooking. Just because the end result was magic, did not make the cooking any less real, but Marie was a tattle tale from way back, so I had to play it down.
"It's definitely cooking," I assured her, reaching over and stirring the bubbling green contents of the pot. "It used to be cold, now it's hot. Isn't that the definition of cooking?"
Marie screwed up her face and hopped down from the step stool while I congratulated myself for that flawless reasoning. It was a small win, but in the face of my younger sister, I'd learned to take what I could get. "What are you making, then?" she asked, folding her arms over her chest and glaring up at me in that way she has of making the other first graders quake in their Velcro trainers. "Because it smells awful."
"Soup," I said confidently. "I'm making soup." Potions are a kind of soup, right? Adding ingredients, letting them simmer and stew just right. The consistency is similar. And if we're being honest, Dad's minestrone has similar effects to the Sick Day Potion I whipped up last term to get out of a math test. I dry heave just thinking about it.
Marie's eyes narrowed even more as she looked at the containers of ingredients scattered on the kitchen bench. "What kind of soup?" she questioned, reaching for the vial of frog's ears.
"Anchovy soup," I blurted, swiping the frog's ears away from her before she had a chance to get a good look at them. She couldn't really read properly yet, but I was fairly certain she'd be able to recognize that they weren't a typical soup ingredient. And the fact that they were in a vial, instead of a jar or a can didn't help matters either. "Anchovy and blue cheese soup," I corrected, plucking up another couple of vials and stuffing them into my back pocket before she could see them. "That's why the smell is so bad."
"Eww," she pronounced in the way that little sisters always do. "That's gross. But why do you need frog's ears?"
My eyebrows practically flew off my face. How did she-? How could she-? She can't even-! "What do you mean frog's ears?" I asked, attempting to smooth out my face into something more innocent. "Do frogs even have ears? Maybe you should go borrow my tablet and google it? Here, let me sign in for you." I grabbed my tablet off the table, cracked screen, spider gut splatters and all, and entered my six-digit code before handing it over to Marie. "There we go," I said. "Google away, and if you happen to get distracted and play a game or two, I won't tell mum."
"You won't tell mum, but I will," she proclaimed before taking in a deep breath and doing the one thing I'd been trying to avoid since she entered the kitchen three minutes ago: holler. "Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmm!" she screamed. "Kayden is cooking a POTION!"
And just like that my prime potion brewing time was over. Down the hall, I heard a muttered curse, followed by water sloshing, some clunking, and finally a pair of soggy feet were stomping toward us. I was in soooo much trouble. Not only had I done something that Mum expressly forbade me to do (brewing potions in the good boiling pot), but now I'd interrupted her bath as well. I mean, technically, it was Marie who interrupted the bath, but that didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. I was the reason the bath had been interrupted, so I would be the one receiving the punishment.
"I'm fairly certain," Mum sighed as she neared the kitchen, "That I said I was going for a bath and did not want to be interrupted." By now she was in the doorway, a towel wrapped around her body, and her damp hair clinging to her neck and forehead like the sliced worms I'd accidentally spilled on myself while preparing the ingredients for my potion. "And I also said that you could only use the good boiling pot for cooking, not potion brewing."
"I am cooking," I tried to placate her, but right at that moment the potion brewing in the good boiling pot exploded, letting off a glowing violet smoke and the smell of green gummy bears. "It's, uh, anchovy and blue cheese soup?" There was little point in trying to cover my tracks, now, but the words had already been lined up and ready to leave my mouth, the explosion caught me off guard and my mouth seized the opportunity to do it's thing.
"Anchovy and blue cheese?" Mum asked, sniffing the air. "Then why does it smell like green gummy bears?"
The potion was starting to sparkle now, projecting pretty light patterns onto the ceiling, which is definitely not the reaction that the recipe I found online said it would have, but with a sister and a mother in the room scrutinizing me and it, there wasn't really much I could do to troubleshoot the situation. "I guess I added too much gravy powder," I shrugged.
"Just admit that you're brewing a potion in the good pot so that I can deliver your punishment and get back to my bath while the water is still warm," Mum said, trying for her stern mum pose – hands on hips, foot tapping, forehead wrinkled – but as soon as she let go of her towel, it started to shift, requiring one hand to quickly snatch the ends of the towel back into place before it fell off and she scarred me and Marie for life, and the hair still stuck her face made her look more like one of those wrinkly dogs, than an angry parent. I thought it was pretty funny, to be honest, but I knew that she wouldn't. That's the kind of wisdom you have when you're twelve years old, you see. So I decided it was time to confess.
"Alright," I admitted. "I'm brewing a potion in the good pot. But in my defense-"
"You should make him have a tea party with me!" Marie squealed. "He hates that."
"After you've tidied up the kitchen, and scrubbed my good pot," Mum said, acting like she hadn't heard either the beginning of my sentence that showed I had more to say on the matter, or Marie's shrill exclamations. "You can go clean the garage."
"But mum-!" I tried to protest, but mum held up her hand. Mum wasn't magic at all, but she could still silence a room full of family with a single gesture. I'd begged her to teach me how, but she said it was too advanced for me.
"No buts," Mum said, using her free hand to push the damp strands of hair off her face. "You did the crime, you do the time." And with that, she turned on her heels, executing a less than elegant grab for the refrigerator as she slipped in the puddle she'd left, and stomped back up the hall.
Marie, still holding the tablet I'd handed her in a bid to win her silence, shot me a grin, swiped at the screen and flounced out of the room as well, leaving me with the ominous smell of green gummy bears, and growing sense of dread.
"First things first," I told myself, eying the sparkling slosh in the pot. "Empty the pot." I turned off the heat, picked up the pot and trudged out to the far corner of the backyard and the special drain dad had installed for the disposal of failed and leftover potion attempts. I had no idea where it lead, or if it lead anywhere at all, but Dad guaranteed that it did not end up in the ocean, or the water supply, and it in no way damaged the environment, so I wasn't really going to ask too many more questions. I didn't want to know too much in case something terrible happened.
Half an hour later, the kitchen was tidy, the pot was clean and I was standing in the driveway, with the garage remote in one hand and a broom in the other. I would have really liked for my other hand to be holding a potion vial instead of a broom, but the potion had failed, and mum was going to be checking that I did what I was told, so there was no point in hiding in my room and pretending I'd cleaned the garage.
I took a deep breath, and hit the button on the remote, watching apprehensively as the door rolled up to reveal a large, gooey, sasquatch of a monster with big green eyes and my dad's tie.
"Did you get the potion made already?" the gooey sasquatch asked in my dad's surprised voice.
"No," I sighed. "Marie told mum I was using the good pot, and then it started pouring violet smoke and glittering. I had to get rid of it and clean the kitchen, and now, I have to clean the garage as well."
"You need to make that potion, though," Sasquatch-Dad insisted. "I can't go to work like this tomorrow! I can't even go inside and have dinner like this tonight!"
"Maybe you'll think twice about eating my Creature Cookies, then," I quipped, starting to drag out boxes.
"They looked delicious!" Dad exclaimed in defense. "How was I supposed to know they'd turn me into a monster?"
"Maybe the label I put on the box that said 'WARNING! DO NOT EAT! YOU WILL TURN INTO A MONSTER!' could have clued you in," I said.
Dad sighed and sat down on a box. "I thought you just wrote that to stop your sister from stealing them."