The brew had been cooking for 2 months. Every night I meticulously added one more ingredient into the blackened, cast-iron pot. The stone-wall kitchen became the place I spent most of my nights. A sage coloured coal stove sat awkwardly against the wall, with a chimney that extended outside the kitchen. Whenever I came here I added more ingredients into the brew. A brew whose recipe was given to me by a spiritualist.
One thing I noticed about being in the kitchen is that I weighed much less than I actually do and I was always wearing the same outfit. It was a long white, cotton jumpsuit that sat loosely on my smaller body. It took a breath whenever I did. The jumpsuit had tiny yellow daisies on it, arranged in an appealing pattern. Other than the fashions, I also noticed there was a smell that emanated from my arms. The smell was peculiar but addictive, like the smell of a freshly struck matchstick. So, every now and then I would sniff my arm. I knew every crack and crevices of this kitchen. I had studied its minute details every night so that nothing could escape me.
Tonight, something was different. There was a glass jar near the kettle that I never used. It was almost empty but the jar had what looked like a spice mix inside. Of course it caught my attention, because when I walked past it I saw a split second glimpse of a reflection that wasn’t my own. The girl in the glass jar looked completely different. I picked up the jar and examined it all over for the immigrant that had found refuge in my kitchen. I shook the jar and opened it violently. I summoned the owner to return and tell me what she is doing in my kitchen. Paranoia began to seize me and that was always a cause for concern in the dream world. The last thing I needed was to panic and create unspeakable things from the darkest parts of my imagination. I had been travelling through many dream portals for 2 years. Each night perfecting the next step. The spiritualist let me know that even in dreams, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
“Because men are like toddlers, they will eat anything and everything,” he used to say. My instructions were to add an ingredient into the pot every night until the brew’s powers started to take hold. Every ingredient was carefully visualized before I would close my eyes and go to sleep. He told me that it would take about 2 weeks to start seeing results. It has been two years now.
Two years ago I fell in love. Jabu was everything I ever wanted and the connection between us was undeniably strong. I played hard to get with him initially, but the romantic gestures eventually tripped me up and I fell for him. Badly. Jabu was a popular DJ who was slowly making a name for himself. He had an insatiable appetite for music, which I came to notice after he would make sure to weave in a musical fact into every conversation. Jabu was not like other men, he truly was different. He was sweet and attentive and quite shy for someone who was gaining more time in the spotlight. I wasn’t aware how special he was when I first met him, but as I got to know him, I realised that he was somebody I could see myself settling down with. But where I come from, they call that insanity. No one marries the DJ. Or a soccer player. Yet with him, that was all I wanted to do.
I stared at the jar intently and lifted it into the air, preparing to smash it on the floor. A shrill voice cried out.
“Don’t!” My stomach dropped and turned. I was no longer alone. A gorgeous, kind-faced woman appeared from behind the refrigerator. She looked horrified.
“Please don’t destroy that.” Her teary eyes darted from the jar to my face as she pleaded with me to save her jar.
“What are you doing in my kitchen?”
“My sister, this isn’t actually your kitchen.” She said, the tears had vanished.
“What do you mean? This is definitely my kitchen. I have been coming here for two months.”
“I’ve been coming here for 5 years. The man you are here for is my husband, my sister.”
I was speechless. The spiritualist that I consulted two years ago was the one who had sent me to this exact kitchen. Did she make a mistake? Surely she should’ve known, otherwise what kind of a spiritualist is she?
“Did you also go and see a spiritualist,” I poked and prodded for more information.
“Yes my sister. When my husband started becoming...distant. The spiritualist told me to come here and cook for him every night and the food will present itself in his dreams. He would eat it and then only have eyes for me again.”
“Mine told me the same thing. But I wonder why she wouldn’t tell me that he is married?”
“My sister, the ritual and herbs cost R3500. I would be disappointed if she didn’t sell it to you.”
“Stop calling me your sister.”
“That’s what you are going to choose to be mad about, my sister? We both just learned that we have been coming here for nothing. Please don’t stress me out, my sister.”
I began the dream potion work two years ago but only really perfected the method two months ago. The spiritualist gave me a list of ingredients to “manifest” before I closed my eyes to sleep. Once I had travelled to this kitchen through dream portals, I then added them carefully to the bubbling brew in my kitchen. Well, not my kitchen anymore.
“So you’ve been coming here for five years,” I asked the wife.
“Yes. I began on this night 5 years ago when my gut feeling told me he was being unfaithful.”
“So, you weren’t even sure he was cheating?”
“It doesn’t matter now, does it my sister? My gut feeling was right.”
“Well, I can’t believe that motherfucker didn’t tell me he was married.” I searched for pity on her face but she had none for me. Instead her face was lined with years of hurt that came from being seated at a table, only to be served crumbs. I retreated and scanned the kitchen for more clues. How could I not have known? He loved me in such a way that I never questioned if there was anyone else. But here she was. She too had travelled through all the innumerable possibilities and outcomes that dreams had to offer. She chose to come here to salvage her waking relationship. I was doing the same thing. I had also noticed how distant he had become and instinctively I knew there was someone else. But I was never one to rock any boat. I kept quiet and never negotiated for my worth. I needed him to see me as the one, but now, I was disgusted at the thought of my love hurting someone else. I stood in the deep end of shame and the only life jacket I could offer was a useless apology.
“Look, I’m really sorry, I had no idea you were…”
“ It’s pointless now, my sister. To be honest I feel a little bit silly...” She stopped to take a breath before elaborating herself.
“Well silly because look at the lengths we went to for this completely selfish human being. Now we look like clowns.”
“Well, I’ve only been to a circus once in my life and even then I knew it was not my thing.” We both laughed but beneath the joke, there was a seething vexation bubbling it’s way to the surface - like the contents of the pot.
“We have to pour out the brew. Did it even work for you,” I asked, not really wanting to know the answer; trying to avoid the inevitable hurt.
“I feel like it was working at some point but I could never be sure. It always felt like I was just one step behind his heart. Never quite catching up. You know?”
I knew exactly how she felt. I felt it too. As intoxicating as he was, that man was like a curse that couldn’t be fully revealed for the destruction it would cause. How did I even get here? Was I so desperate for love that I would go to such lengths?
“Well lets, pour it out. It’s never going to serve us now.”
“Yes my sister, honestly this has been a wake up call for me.”
I felt for her even though there wasn’t much comfort I could offer. In fact, I needed to be comforted too but instead I resolved that it was better for me to swallow my pain. As we made our way to the stove so we could empty the contents of the pot, I looked up and saw a figure outside the only kitchen window. The window that faced a beautiful garden that was always in full bloom. I alerted the wife to the figure making its way to us. A beautiful woman with the smoothest brown skin floated into the kitchen. Her face had white freckles that shone like stars against her dark skin. A small, black plastic bag was scrunched tightly into her palm.
“Don’t touch that pot.” Her voice boomed like thunder with an echo, as if she were speaking in multiple dimensions at once.
“Who the hell are you,” I asked. The mystery woman gave us a sly smile while shaking her head.
“Huh, like you don’t know? I’m his woman. I mean, aren’t we all?.”
“What? There’s...there’s three of us?” The wife asked, looking like she was going to faint.
“Three?” The mystery laughed so hard I thought her voice might shatter all the glass in the kitchen.
“Three? Sweetie, no, you can’t be serious. I’ve counted at least 7 in all the times I have been here. Apparently there are even two other kitchens. Apparently.”
My jaw dropped as I began to realise that everything that I knew, everything I was so valiantly fought for, was a complete fraud. This dream was quickly turning into a nightmare. I needed more information. I needed more to process the blanks.
“Wait, so what are you doing here if you know about other women?” She gave us her shady smile again drawing joy from the torutre she was inflicting on us, like blood being drawn from a thick, green vein.
“I’m here to kill him.” The wife gasped as tears started rolling down her face. My tears never made an appearance. “When I found out about the others, I was like fuck that and I went back to my spiritualist. I was enraged, Pissed off. I gave that man all of me, invested in him and instead he played me. I wasn’t going to take that disrespect lightly. He fucked with the wrong one.” I stared at the black plastic bag in her hand.
“I’ve been patiently adding one ingredient at a time for months now and this is the final one. The one that will end that fucker’s life.”
“Are you insane,” I asked as I took two steps towards her in a threatening manner. She gripped the plastic bag tighter and the look on her face was determined. Unwavering. I backed down.
“Don’t do this, I’m his wife and if you want him you can have him. Just don’t kill him”
“Oh no sweetie, I don’t want him anymore. In fact I wish I had never met him. And now he is going to wish he had never met me.” Her anger was valid, I thought to myself. Even if she was going about it in an extreme way, I really couldn’t blame or judge her decision, but we had to try and stop her. This man had given us all a world of pain without any consequences. Until now.
“Maybe we should just let her do it,” said the wife. My eyes widened in confusion at her sudden change of heart. Her tears were still flowing freely.
“You want him dead now? Just like that,” I asked her.
“I’m tired, my sister,” she replied. “My soul is tired and I cannot fight this fight any more. I was willing to if it was just you but this...this is too much.” She started sobbing loudly but my tears were still a no show. I realised that I couldn’t process all of this in my subconscious mind. I needed to wake up and face the reality of this predicament. As much as I loved him, this was something I didn’t sign up for. The murder was just a line I couldn’t cross. But I could leave him as soon as I woke up from this dream. I backed away from the women and turned around to walk away. From the distance I could still hear the pot bubbling away.
“Do it,” said the wife.