Six Rose Petals 🌹

Submitted into Contest #86 in response to: Write a story where flowers play a central role.... view prompt

29 comments

Fantasy Romance Friendship

The love potion was her sister’s idea. Jean was into all those hippy, new age things: crystals for healing, wearing clothing made of hemp, spells, tarot cards. She’d commiserated with Bella about her marriage issues over a cup of herbal tea on her front porch and brought it up innocuously, as though it was completely typical suggestion. The jangle of the wind chimes in the background only served to complete the ethereal, nonsensical mood.

“Are you sure, Jean? That seems a little out there. I’d been thinking of something like couples therapy.” She tapped her pastel pink nails absently against the coffee cup, suppressing an eye roll.

“Those shrinks couldn’t tell your crown chakra from your heart chakra,” Jean snorted derisively. Bella chuckled along, not willing to admit she didn’t know what the hell her sister was talking about. “Trust me, this is your best way forward, short of catching a leprechaun and forcing him to grant you a wish.

“That was a joke, if you couldn’t tell. I’m not crazy.” 

Bella chuckled along good-naturedly. Honestly, with Jean there were times she genuinely couldn’t distinguish the jokes from the sober-but-crazy-assertions, so she appreciated the clarification.

“Come on, I’ll bet I have everything you need in my pantry. Let’s do this!” Jean’s enthusiasm was infectious, and Bella felt the corners of her mouth tugging up into a smile. As they stood, Bella pulled her sister into a tight, quick hug. She was engulfed in the smell of hibiscus and sage.

“Thanks, Jeanie. I needed this.” 

“Anytime little sis. Anytime.” 

After a quick detour to Jean’s bedroom to get her spell book, they paged through it in the kitchen. Bella thought to herself that it looked oddly modern, not at all like the leather bound tome she had imagined something like that to be. “Where’d you find this anyway?” 

“Amazon, duh. Where’d you think I’d get it from?” Jean elbowed Bella in the ribs with a wicked smile. “Troll under a bridge? Atlantis? The tooth fairy?” 

Some of the pages were dog eared and had Jean’s crabbed, spidery handwriting filling up the margins. Health spells, family spells, spells to increase your wealth. 

“Here we go,” Jean said, flattening the spine of the book open to the right page. Brushing a lock on wavy brown hair behind her ears, Bella noted the dirt encrusted under her nails. Jean practically lived in her garden, when she wasn't at her day job. Cracking her knuckles, Jean assumed what Bella had come to think of over the years as her ‘game face’. “One love potion, coming right up.”

The kitchen table soon bore the fruit of their labours: rosemary, thyme, nutmeg, mint leaves, honey, black tea, lemon leaves, a bottle of spring water. Turning over the mason jar of tea leaves, Bella thought to herself that this felt more like cooking than witchcraft. Ducking into the mud room, Jean came pack with some gardening shears. 

“C’mon Bella, we still need to get the last ingredient. Rose petals.” 

“You know this will never work, right?” Bella said, poking Jean teasingly. Jean took a swipe at her, wielding the shears like a sword. 

“What’s the point of doing this then? You’ll ruin the positive energy, or set a bad intention! Then it won’t do anything.” Jean gestured dramatically at her herbs, as though they held the secrets of the universe. For all Bella knew, maybe it did. “You’ll never know if you don’t try.” 

“But how will it work?” Bella sighed.

“Magic,” Jean winked. “Obviously.”


🌹🌹🌹


Jean would have helped her brew the actual potion, but it wasn’t the right time. The instructions had been ridiculously specific. Brew during a waxing moon, but it also had to be a Friday, and during the light of the moon. Preparing her potion, she realized she still wasn’t completely sure when Chad had fallen out of love with her. There were no talks of divorce, no hum of discontent. He still told her he loved her every day. But something had shifted. It was the little things. 

Instead of kissing her goodnight, Chad would mutter an ‘I love you’ and be snoring within minutes. Occasionally, he’d drift before she had the chance to say ‘I love you’ back. 

On their first date, they’d skipped dinner and let the chicken burn in the oven. The fire alarm had interrupted them, and they’d had to rush out half dressed to drag the ruins of their dinner out of a smoking oven, laughing and swearing. By contrast, now their meals were always ready at six. They ate dinners promptly, and quietly. 

He’d stopped listening to her. Oh, he still pantomimed listening, and said his ‘hmms,’ and ‘oh really’s?’ at appropriate times. But his heart had gone out of it. She could sense his relief when she got to the end of a story about work, the lines of his face relaxing, his attention switching gratefully back to his phone. She ended up evading him when he asked how work was, replying with monosyllabic answers that did not invite additional queries. It was too exhausting to see his impatience, his boredom. 

If he was going to be standoffish, she could be too. It didn’t make her feel better. There was no flush of victory in her pettiness, only a deepening gyre of miscommunication. 

The whistling of the copper kettle brought her back, and she lifted it to swish around the contents. The smell was pleasant, sweet and floral. There was no glow, no sparkle, nothing at all to indicate this was anything more than a regular old cup of tea. Still, she went through the motions and poured the tea into a cup. The one with the roses. Adding a spoonful of honey to it, she wrapped her hands around it, absorbing the comforting warmth. The doubt came again. How were some herbs, tea, and flower petals supposed to make Chad fall back in love with her?

Sighing, she closed her eyes and took a slow breath. 

“By light of moon waxing brew this tea to make Chad desire me.”

Raising the cup, she took a tentative sip. It wasn’t as bad as she’d thought. In fact, it tasted a lot like Jean's teas.

“Goddess of love, hear now my plea. Let Chad desire me.” Draining the cup, she set it down hard on the table, like a grizzled alcoholic after a stiff drink. “So mote it be.”


🌹🌹🌹


She waited a week, as the spell instructed, before brewing Chad’s batch of the love potion. The spell hadn’t specified whether it had to be during night or not, so she’d done it after dinner. Pouring twin cups of tea, she set Chad’s cup in front of him on the coffee table. 

Once he’d taken a drink, she bit her lip and reached for the remote. Turning the television off, she swivelled in her seat to look at Chad. “Do you remember when we first met?’

“Of course,” he said, bemused. “It was in that little diner you used to work at, where you had to wear that red apron.” His eyes crinkled at the memory.

“You used to come, every day. But it wasn't like a regular situation though. You would try something new every day, like it was some cover story to explain the repeat visits.” She smiled at that. “Blueberry pie at first, then onion rings, then you got all the way down to those things on the menu that no one really likes. Couldn’t tell you even now why we sold them.” 

“Like the green bean casserole,” Chad shuddered, in mock horror. “I still hate green beans to this day.” 

‘Then one day, you ran out of new things to try.” By now, the back and forth had taken on a familiar rhythm. This was a story they’d told new acquaintances when asked how they’d met. 

“I still remember you asking me what I’d do now,” Chad said. In the faint light, he seemed to transform back into that kid in his early twenties. 

“You said the cheesiest line, about getting something off menu,” Bella giggled, slipping her hand into his. 

“Well it worked, didn’t it?” 

“I wish we could go back to those days,” Bella said. “Everything seemed so much easier.” 

Chad leaned in to kiss her on the forehead. “Maybe it isn’t the same. But isn’t that okay? Sure, we don’t act like twenty year olds. But I love you so much more now. You’re my best friend. My soul mate. Every cheesy line in the book to describe a happy marriage? That’s us, babe.” 

Shifting to rest her head on his shoulder, she frowned. “If that’s the case, why does it feel like we never talk anymore? I talk about work, and you glaze over.” 

“Okay, you can’t blame me for that Bella. It isn’t like you work for NASA or something, you’re in data entry. It isn’t exactly front page news.” 

“Hey!” Bella protested, punching Chad’s arm. “Data entry is such an interesting job. I’m serious!” Her voice raised over Chad’s laughter, indignant. 

“Honestly babe, I thought we were doing okay. Better than okay. If you thought we were having problems, why didn’t you just tell me about it sooner?” 

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “Maybe I thought that talking about it would make it real.”

Pulling Bella into a tight embrace, Chad kissed her. “I couldn’t love you more. I’m sorry if it didn’t show.” 


🌹🌹🌹


Later, as she and Chad cleaned up their dinner dishes, she wondered if it had been the love potion that had prompted their reconciliation. Dumping the tea dregs into the garbage, the rose petals caught her eye, gleaming in comparison to the used coffee grounds and yogourt containers. Maybe it had been magic. 

March 24, 2021 00:54

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29 comments

Michael Boquet
19:02 Mar 24, 2021

I love the subtle humor in this piece. The relationship between the sisters is very believable and their teasing made me smile. Love the ending too. The main ingredient of magic is belief is one of my favorite themes. One spot I noticed: “So mote it be.” - did you mean 'might' or 'may' ? Such a cute story and a relatable romance. Nice job!

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Courtney C
19:30 Mar 24, 2021

Hey Michael, thanks for the feedback! Glad you liked the story. For the 'mote', that's actually spelled how it's supposed to be. A bit of witchy lingo right there, even if it sounds out of place. Thanks again for reading and commenting :)

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Nina Chyll
20:19 Mar 25, 2021

Everyone needs a Jean in their lives. A very cool character, and I wondered because of the skilful dialogue how much of the stuff she said she actually believed versus how much was just a persona. Really enjoyable, light and warm, and the dialogue, especially between the sisters, felt very natural.

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Courtney C
22:46 Mar 25, 2021

I agree! Thanks for the comment, I was definitely going for something light this week.

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H L Mc Quaid
17:12 Mar 25, 2021

A funny, sweet story that I enjoyed very much. It's also well-written, so I don't have much in the way of critique, except for two things. 1. Usually a separate line of dialogue indicates a change in the speaker, but I think Jean was still speaking here?: "“That was a joke, if you couldn’t tell. I’m not crazy.” If so, then you could tag that line with, "Jean continued" or "added Jean" 2. You could omit "to herself" whenever you say "Bella thought..." as we can infer that if Bella is thinking, it's going to be to herself. :) If you get...

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Courtney C
22:51 Mar 25, 2021

Thanks for the comment and positivity! I appreciate the critique as well, since I'm always trying to get better. For the dialogue, I think the key word is 'usually'. I'm like, 90% sure I can still have it the way I did, even if it looks a little strange, because I've seen things like that in other books. But who knows, I could be wrong. For the second point, you're absolutely write. Sometimes I fall into the trap of writing fluff sentiments that really don't need to be there. I'd love to check out your story! Will do :)

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Lani Lane
00:01 Mar 25, 2021

Hi Courtney, I thought you showed such a promising talent for dialogue here! I just LOVED the spell/poem here and the description: “Goddess of love, hear now my plea. Let Chad desire me.” Draining the cup, she set it down hard on the table, like a grizzled alcoholic after a stiff drink. “So mote it be.” The only bit of constructive criticism I have is this line: “Anytime little sister. Anytime.” For some reason, one of my biggest writing pet peeves is siblings calling each other "sister," "brother," etc. because I find it's unrealistic i...

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Courtney C
00:13 Mar 25, 2021

Hey, thanks for reading and for the great review/feedback lol. It definitely made me smile To be honest, you're right. I got in my head about whether it should be 'sis' or 'Sis' or some other spelling variation and I panicked and just put sister lol. I'll try to come up with something else, because I agree - it doesn't feel realistic. Maybe a 'bro' in an ironic way.

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Lani Lane
18:49 Mar 25, 2021

That is totally fair - and like I said, it's a super small detail and a lot of authors/screenwriters also do that!

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Iris Bean
13:51 Apr 02, 2021

i love this !!!

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Gerald Daniels
20:59 Apr 01, 2021

Great story, lovely characterisation and intriguing plot. Super.

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Cecelia Roblee
22:03 Mar 28, 2021

I like that you made a normally sad and tragic (or cheesy) troupe and breathed new life into it and made it completely your own. It was uplifting, and it put a smile on my face. Your descriptions of things and senses also stood out as very well done to me. I look forward to your other works!:)

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Courtney C
22:44 Mar 28, 2021

Thanks so much for the positive comment! In the beginning, my idea was 100% cheesy, so I'm happy I was able to take a turn for something a little more original. Glad you liked the story!

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Kelly Ellen
17:42 Mar 27, 2021

Fun story!! I really appreciate your descriptiveness. You set a very clear image of the scene that made me feel like I was a fly on the wall watching all of it happen.

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Kenneth Michael
14:53 Mar 27, 2021

You are an excellent writer! I don't typically read any romance so I don't have a lot of reference but this was good. Really good. Made me want to go kiss my wife and talk about us. Please keep writing. Loved how you infused fantasy and romance. Loved the pace of the dialogue between Jean and Bella. I cracked up when we found that the spell book was from Amazon. Hilarious. I also loved how we do not really know if it was the potion or sitting down to talk about it.

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Courtney C
17:03 Mar 27, 2021

Thanks so much for your comment! It made my day :) I'm glad it had such an impact, especially if you're not into romance.

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Holly Fister
21:57 Mar 26, 2021

I enjoyed this story, Courtney, and watching the sisters scheme how to save a marriage was fun. I loved the ambiguity at the end and the fact that whether or not the magic worked, it still gave her the courage to speak up. I liked the conversation you wrote for them. One thought I had was I saw a couple of big adverbs that are kindof hard to read. For example: “Bella said, poking Jean teasingly” You could change it to Bella teased which is more succinct. That’s something one of my Reedsy email lessons taught me, haha! Anyways, just a thoug...

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Courtney C
17:02 Mar 27, 2021

Thanks for the comments and advice Holly! You're right, adverbs are lazy writing. I should have internalized that a little more after reading On Writing by King. I really appreciate you reading and taking the time to comment, and I might have to check out the reedsy lessons!

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Holly Fister
17:15 Mar 27, 2021

I have to defend you there and say if you’re writing you’re not being lazy 😄 but the adverbs may be something to look out for to make sure they’re not excessive. One of my hardest habits to break was using the same sentence structure over and over and often using the words that and just. I highly recommend the Reedsy email lessons. How was King’s book On Writing?

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Courtney C
17:40 Mar 27, 2021

True lol, I'll hold on to that. I feel like I've written more on Reedsy these past few months than I have in years, which is great. I really liked On Writing. It's pretty short, and Stephen King talks about his childhood, all the rejections he had, some helpful stuff about his own writing process. How do you get onto the email lessons? If you have a minute, if not I'm sure a bit of digging and looking around would give me the answer. No pressure lol.

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Holly Fister
17:51 Mar 27, 2021

Cool, I’ll see if I can find that book at the library. If you go to the main Reedsy website and scroll down there is a link for free courses. Tons of options!

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Holly Fister
17:52 Mar 27, 2021

And same for me, this contest inspires and motivates me to write, which leads to improvement!

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Ellie Yu
17:20 Mar 24, 2021

I was half hoping to find out if the potion worked or not, but I ended up loving your ambiguous ending much more! It feels like a really great way to tie up a light, interesting piece. The touch of angst in the middle, when Bella thinks her relationship is falling apart, balances with the urban magic so well. Also, I honestly want to be friends with Jean. I really loved this story, if you couldn't tell :)

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Courtney C
19:29 Mar 24, 2021

Thanks so much for the great feedback! I based Jean off of my college roommate - she was into tarot cards, and just a super positive, awesome person. Glad you enjoyed it, ending and all lol

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Aisa M
13:24 Mar 24, 2021

This is sweet :D

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K. Antonio
12:19 Mar 24, 2021

An adorable tale. I liked the ending a lot, and though I don't really tend to read a lot of fantasy, I felt that this story was very digestible and easy to read. The dialogue was great and I enjoyed the characters. A very light story/read (which sometimes is just what we need). Great stuff!

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Courtney C
14:11 Mar 24, 2021

Thanks so much! I was trying to go for a bit of ambiguity: somewhere inbetween fantasy and real life. Glad you liked the story and thank you for reading :)

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Rachel Smith
11:39 Mar 24, 2021

Awwww this is such a sweet story. I like that it's left up to the reader if the love potion worked. The sister will definitely have a gloat. I enjoyed reading. Well done!

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Courtney C
14:12 Mar 24, 2021

Thanks so much :) I'm glad you liked it, and yes, I can imagine Jean cackling away smugly that it worked lol. Thanks for reading and leaving such a positive comment!

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