issue 4

Love Potion Number Thirteen, by Anatoly Belilovsky


Recipe: I told Cindy that I really liked Lorraine but Lorraine wouldn’t even talk to me, and Cindy said she’d read about this love potion recipe in an old Polish book she read when she was little (because she grew up in Poland and went to school there for Grades 1 and 2.) So we went to the library and Cindy found that book and translated the recipe and wrote it down and she said she’d help me make it.


Dew collected off crabgrass by the light of the full moon: we went to Silver Lake Park Wednesday night, and like an idiot I only brought an empty soda pop bottle, and the dew from the broad crabgrass leaves went everywhere but inside the bottle, but Cindy found an old sandwich baggie in the trash and after an hour we had maybe an ounce of dew and then Cindy held the bottle and I poured the dew inside, very carefully.


Liverwort: Cindy looked it up and apparently there are 9000 different species of liverwort, and also there’s a kind of buttercup called “liverwort” that’s not really a wort at all. Cindy remembered seeing it in Poland and also here at the Botanical Garden. We took the ferry to Manhattan and stood in the front where the wind blew the spray off the waves right into our faces and she gave me the tissues she had in her pocket to wipe it. Then we took the train to Brooklyn and wandered around the garden and picked that plant and took it home.


Foot of a black chicken: we went to a halal butcher on Bay Street and I was too chicken (haha) to go in so Cindy got it for me. I almost threw up just looking at it, so Cindy kept it and took it back.


Eye of newt: we caught something like what a newt is supposed to look like in Silver Lake and put it in Cindy’s fish tank. OK, Cindy caught it and I helped. She got water halfway up her jeans so we hung out at her place and played video games while she did her laundry.


I saw Lorraine in Chemistry today and she might have actually smiled at me, so I asked Cindy what else we needed from the list of ingredients and she said we are good to go and I said great, can you make the potion tonight and she said I’d have to be the one to do it, otherwise it would work for her and that kind of loses the whole point of the exercise and I kind of got a little bit sick imagining what cooking it will be like.


I saw Lorraine again and all I could see was the newt looking at me. I’m not picking out its eye, not for Lorraine, not for anybody. I said that to Cindy and she just laughed.


Cindy and I took the newt thing back to the lake and let it go. We also threw the chicken foot toward a snapping turtle (boy those turtles are quick!) and put the liverwort that we picked into a jar with the dew from the baggie. It has little purple flowers. I liked the color and I asked Cindy if she has a dress this color. She said maybe.


I guess she does have a dress this color. It’s really nice, except now we can’t play video games.


Cindy asked why can’t we play video games and I said I don’t know, I just never played video games with anyone wearing a dress before.


Cindy and I are sitting and not doing anything, not even talking, which I thought would be really boring but really isn’t.


I asked her to look in the book again to see if there’s a potion for anti-awkward. She started laughing, and suddenly it was like she was wearing jeans again.


Still not playing video games, though.

Anatoly Belilovsky was born in a city that went through six or seven owners in the last century, all of whom used it to do a lot more than drive to church on Sundays; he is old enough to remember tanks rolling through it on their way to Czechoslovakia in 1968. After being traded to the US for a shipload of grain and a defector to be named later, he learned English from Star Trek reruns, apparently well enough to be admitted into SFWA in spite of chronic cat deficiency. He has sold original and translated stories and poems to NATURE, F&SF, Analog, Asimov’s, Daily SF, Podcastle, Kasma, UFO, Stupefying Stories, Cast of Wonders, and other markets.

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