“Double, double, toil and trouble/Fire burn and cauldron bubble…”
“Stop it Donna, don’t start it yet! We have to wait for Shazza!”
“It’s alright, you dag, I wasn’t starting, and as IF it starts with double trouble!! That was just something I remembered from school.” Donna rolled her eyes at her friend Shell.
“Jesus, you gave me a heart attack. I thought you were starting.” Shell took another bite of the apple she was eating. She made loud smacking noises as she sucked back the juice and crunched loudly as she took her next bite. She was perched on the treated pine table in Donna’s parents back yard, her feet on the bench below. Her apple cores were collecting next to the shopping she’d dumped on the table when she’d arrived.
“Where is Sharon, anyway?”
“She’s bringing the heat beads.”
“What for? I thought we were using the stove?”
“Nah, she said the Le Creuset wouldn’t fit on the stove so we’re doing it in the Weber.”
Donna inspected the lid of the Weber and replaced it on the kettle barbecue before checking her phone. Sharon had sent them both an email listing everything they needed for today, and it probably wouldn’t hurt if they sorted out the stuff from the shopping bags while they waited. Donna scrolled down the email and started reading.
“Ok, we need a sweet red wine. 9 cups.”
Shell shifted her apple to the other hand while she poked through the green shopping bags on the table. “Ummm, here it is, it’s a Cab Sav.”
“A Cab Sav? That’s a bloody dry red, isn’t it?”
“A red is a red, isn’t it?”
“I dunno, I only drink Cruisers,” Donna retorted. “But I reckon it tastes shit, so it’s definitely not sweet.”
“Well, the email said red, so I got red. It was only five bucks at Dan Murphy.”
“Oh well, if she doesn’t like it she can add sugar. What was next?”
“Did you say nine cups?” Shell asked
“Mum only had 6, have you got another 3?”
“Nah, I meant 9 cups of red wine ya spud, not nine individual cups.”
“Oh really? Oops. Well then, we’ve got heaps. What’s next?”
“How are you going with the apple seeds?” Donna looked over at the rapidly increasing pile of cores on the table.
“I’m up to my fifth apple, four to go.”
“What? You’re eating nine apples?”
“Yeah, we need the seeds of nine apples, don’t we?”
“No, it was nine seeds of an apple, Shell. Did you even learn how to read?”
“Oh shit, thank God, these apples were giving me wind. We must have nine seeds by now. I’ll count them.” Shell started to break the apple cores apart.
“No, no, no, let me or Sharon do it, clearly you can’t do the complicated stuff. Have a look and see if we’ve got the rest of the ingredients wouldja?” Donna sighed inwardly, knowing full well that although Shell was both lovable and punctual, she thought “tarot” rhymed with carrot, and wouldn’t recognise Shakespeare if he wore a nametag.
Donna watched as her moderately daft friend sifted through the bag and placed each item on the table in turn. Basil leaves, strawberries, vanilla extract, candles, a wooden spoon. Donna’s eyes flicked from phone to table with each one and kept scrolling down.
“Shit, there’s so much stuff. It says here ginseng root, what the hell is that?”
“I dunno, I couldn’t find any so I got ginger. I hope that will be ok.”
“It’ll have to be.” Donna glanced at the time on her phone. “Bloody hell, why is Shaz so late?”
“Why do we need a wicked witch anyway?” Shelly asked.
Donna stopped scrolling and looked over at her dear, sweet, dim friend. “She’s not a fucking wicked witch, you dumb ass. She’s a Wiccan Witch. A white witch. From Ireland.”
“Sharon’s Irish? I thought she was from Epping?”
Donna’s next curse was cut off as Sharon hallooed over the side gate. “I’m here my loves, sorry I’m late, the fixie got a flat. How do I open the gate?”
Donna crossed to the gate and stuck her foot under it, jiggled the bolt and slid it sideways to admit Sharon in a hazy waft, as though through the mists of time.
“Fuck Shaz, when are you gunna quit the ciggies? I’m suffocating here.” Donna coughed and spluttered and closed the gate by reversing the foot and bolt action.
“Sorry darl, I wanted to sneak one in before we got started.” Sharon kissed Donna on the cheek as she passed by. She had a bag of heat beads on her hip and a cigarette in the other hand, which she threw into the Weber. She put the heat beads next to the barbecue and kissed Shell hello on both cheeks, and pushed back a strand of beige coloured hair that had escaped from the tie-dyed rag wrapped around her head.
“Right darlings, are we ready to go?” She jingled as she moved; there were usually bells sewn somewhere into her skirts.
“We just need to count out nine apple seeds from the apple cores our bright spark here has collected and we can get going. Also, is a Cab Sav and ginger ok? The ginger’s instead of the ginseng.” Donna tipped the bag of heat beads into the Weber.
“Hmm, we might add some honey if we’ve using a Cab Sav; I’d usually prefer a cheeky lambrusco but we can make do. And the ginger should be ok – it will add a bit of warmth, which might just be what you’re after, you cheeky minx!” Sharon pinched Donna’s cheeks.
“Ugh, you stink of ciggies, go have a mint.” Donna pushed Sharon’s hands away and busied herself setting up the Weber and placing the casserole dish on top.
“That time of the month?” Sharon backed off in mock offense and chuckled under her breath with Shelly, who was picking the apple seeds out of cores and putting them in piles.
“Nah, she’s just sexually frustrated. We’d better get this show on the road – no time to waste!” Shelly giggled.
The coals started to heat up as Sharon, Shell and Donna added nine cups of wine, nine spoons of sugar, nine rose petals, nine apple seeds, nine basil leaves, nine drops of apple juice, nine drops of vanilla extract, and nine cloves to the red crock pot. It slowly started to bubble.
“Wait, shit, I forgot to light the candles!” Sharon grabbed at her macramé sholder bag and pulled out her lighter. She started placing the pink candles (all nine of them) in a circle around the Weber.
“And now we chant!” she said, pulling a piece of crumpled A4 from her bag.
“Where did you get this recipe from anyway, Shaz?” Donna began to perspire as she slowly stirred the pot nine times clockwise, then nine times anti-clockwise, as per Sharon’s instructions.
“Is it Irish?” piped up Shelly.
“First, it’s not a recipe, it’s a spell. And second, it’s passed down from ancient times, and likely passed through the hands of our Celtic ancestors, but I believe it arrived in Europe via the Moors.”
“You Googled, it didn’t you?”
“Yep, Love Potion Number 9. There was a YouTube tutorial and everything. It had good user reviews.”
“Ok, whatever. What do we have to chant?”
“Hold hands, ladies.”
“What do I do with the spoon?”
“Just put it down. Seriously, hold hands. Here we go.”
Love Potion Number Nine
We summon you, love divine
NAME 1 is our god slash goddess of love
“Ah crap, let’s start that again. We obviously need to put in the names. One, two, three…”
Love Potion Number Nine
We summon you, love divine
Donna is our goddess of love
And Darren is the one she’s thinking of
Here our call, brought forth from fire
And grant our Donna her heart’s desire
Love Potion Number Nine…