Is It Soup Yet?
By Jeff Baker
You should be careful when you pick wildflowers.
I sat there on the bale of hay in the barn watching Charlie’s cousin mix up the broth in the pan on the little fire from the little cooker he usually took on camping trips.
“Skip, you and Charlie are just lucky I know this formula,” cousin Zebulon said. “And lucky I come from a long line of witchboys.”
A line of cute, muscular witchboys, I thought to myself. He was barely older than we were, not yet thirty and he liked strutting around in boots, denim overalls and a tank top.
Charlie and I had been vacationing at his cousin Zebulon’s farmhouse in the country near the Dark Hills. Charlie had wandered out early and picked me a bouquet of wildflowers. He’d surprised me in bed and presented me the bouquet just as the Sun was coming up. He’d smelled them and an instant later had turned into a goose.
I sighed again. At the other end of the barn the Charlie goose honked and flapped impatiently.
“In a minute!” Zebulon said, stirring the broth. “You can’t rush this stuff.”
Zebulon had explained that in picking the “Immolathium Anatidaeus” or “Goose-Fire,” at dawn and presenting it to his true love and having him sniff it, Charlie had performed an ancient spell of the Hills and zap! Became a goose. To undo it, he had to drink “Goose Soup,” which Zebulon, luckily, knew how to make. It had taken us much of the day to find the ingredients.
“Okay,” Zebulon said. “Now, Skip, hand me the Goose-Fire flower. We add it into the broth and make the soup.”
“Uh, I tossed the bouquet in the trash,” I said. I hadn’t wanted to turn into a goose myself.
“Quick, run up the hill and grab a handful and for God’s sake, don’t smell them!”
Charlie honked at me as I ducked out the door.
I ran up the hill, not quite sure which flowers he needed, so I picked the ones I remembered from the bouquet Charlie brought me, being very careful not to smell it as I was bringing it to my true love.
Zebulon pulled out one of the flowers and stirred it into the pan of broth. After a moment it started to fizzle and pop.
“Okay, it’s soup!” Zebulon called out to Charlie the goose.
Charlie waddled over, extended his neck and slurped a billfull of the soup. An instant later, the Charlie I knew was squatting on the barn floor drinking from the pan in Zebulon’s extended arm.
“That’s a relief!” Charlie said.
“You said it!” I said! I’d better toss these things before…”
I had picked up the bouquet of flowers I’d picked and handed it to Charlie, accidentally brushing it against my face.
An instant later, I was flapping and honking on the barn floor.
Zebulon shook his head and sighed. “I guess it works at dusk, too,” he said. “Okay, most of the broth is still good, but I’d better put in a few more flowers. Gotta have it fresh.”
He nodded at Charlie. “Hand me those flowers, Charlie, but first…”
Zebulon fumbled in his overalls pocket and handed Charlie an old wooden clothespin.
“Put this on your nose. To be safe.”
Charlie smiled. I honked.
AUTHORS NOTE: I’m probably in too many prompt groups already but I couldn’t resist this idea which just banged into my head. P. T. Wyant posts a Wednesday Words prompt on her site https://ptwyant.com/2022/03/30/wednesday-words-379-3-30-2022/and I saw this and decided to play along. The prompts were a barn, soup and a bouquet.
This is one of about four stories I’ve done about Wayland Skip Smith (to give him his full name) another of my characters with a knack for stumbling into the strange.