The Alchemist’s Heart

His reflection glared back at him through the glass of a dirty beaker, the bags beneath his eyes particularly defined. The alchemist stared down his desk, which was strewn with scribbled notes; all covered in tea rings and unidentifiable stains. He swiveled around on his creaky stool, eyes scanning the dusty little lab. The alchemist let out a miserable sigh as his gaze fell upon broken test tubes, beside broken burners, next to graduated cylinders overflowing with green sluggish liquid.
He turned back around and pressed his palms to his forehead. It had been years since he began, yet he felt no nearer to success. The alchemist shook his head as if to clear the cobwebs from his mind. A voice saying persevere, my love, echoed in his ears. With renewed purpose, he began a line of unintelligible math and chemistry equations, an integral here and a change in energy there. Then he threw down his pencil and rushed over to his stores. Shards of a volumetric flask crunched beneath his soles.
He groped for containers and powders of all sorts, hurrying in front of a large pot. The alchemist measured meticulously and stirred the mixture counterclockwise thirteen times. He swiped away a bead of sweat that crawled down his temple and continued with a huff. The liquid boiled and bubbled and started to turn dark. The alchemist held his breath, as he impatiently waited for the concoction to go clear again. For a moment he thought he’d failed once again and the defeat started to wash over him. He hung his head over the pot, and a single teardrop rolled down his cheek and into the murky liquid. Suddenly, a ripple rushed across the surface and the brew became colorless. The alchemist shrieked with pride, nearly hitting his head on the ceiling of the cramped room as he lept up and down.
He pulled a ladle from a past ruined batch and delicately scooped up some liquid. The alchemist slowly poured it into a bottle, careful not to waste a drop. With a smile forming on his lips, he lifted the container up to examine his handiwork. The potion gleamed with a hint of lavender. The alchemist pressed the bottle to his mouth, but something forced him to pause. The scent had wafted up and caught him off-guard. It smelled of his childhood, his mother’s crisp apple pie, his father’s cigar infused overcoat, freshly cut grass, and a smokey fire. It was an aroma of pure joy. His pupils dilated and he dropped his head back. A deep inhale and he gulped down the liquid.

His heart pumped fast in his chest and then for a moment halted. The potion pushed through his veins, making their way to the alchemist’s ticker, brightening everything in its path. When it reached the alchemist’s heart, the fractured pieces seemed to put themselves back together. One by when they swooped into place, the magic liquid encircling them. With a jolt, his heart began again, stronger than ever, with a thump, thump, thump.

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