One of the things I love about flash is that it has the creative flexibility of poetry. Non-standard narratives that would get annoying in a longer work, shine in a piece of flash. For “Panacea” I have the first person narrator address the impact character in the second person. I’m very satisfied with how it turned out. Once again, the prompt came from Indies Unlimited, this week a vile (had-har) theme: Picture prompt:
Text Prompt: “He wondered if it could be true. Could some potion be the answer to all his problems? Could he capture Vanessa’s heart? Were fame and fortune within his grasp? He forked over the wad of cash. The old woman jutted a crooked finger at him and uttered an admonition…”
And my take on it: “Panacea”
The liquid in the vial catches the light just so, and you swear it’s an otherworldly glow. The power reaches out to you. Inevitably, you reach back.
You look into my sunny expression and see a shadowy hag because that’s the narrative you’ve crafted for yourself. My shea-butter hands appear as clutches of gnarled twigs. My reluctance is obviously an obstacle to your desires—an obstacle that must be overcome.
I name a price far above its worth. I hope it will sway you because I have an inkling as to what you really need. True to your nature, you slap crisp cash on my counter.
Later, after drinking, you rage when your true love—Vanessa, is it? The gal who doodles palm trees on memo pads—doesn’t fall at your feet. Then, you remember the admonition I uttered sweetly (only you heard it in a gravelly crone’s voice):
“It’ll give what you need, not what you want.”
You believe those things are the same. You need Vanessa, and you go about proving it. Never mind that she’s married with a pair of puppy-eyed children. Never mind that she can reveal certain corporate secrets—and, because of the stalking, does so.
In prison, you curse me, the crone in her dungeon. But time stitches years into your skin and humility into your brain. One day, strolling the grounds, the difference between want and need dawns upon you with an otherworldly light.
It’s the first good laugh you’ve had in decades.