As always, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to respond to the prompt in the comments below.
I found this prompt on Pinterest, as usual, but the original source was a Reddit post, which can be found here.
You walk up to the vendor’s cart. A woman sits on a stool behind it, book in hand. She doesn’t react to your appearance, but you know that she knows that you’re there. And she knows that you know that she knows. Which is why you don’t even think of trying anything.
The graying woman turns her page as you looks over the vast array of colorful vials, with neat little placards declaring the prices underneath. If you can think up an emotion, it’s on the woman’s cart. Determination – a navy blue; courage – an orangish color. Even envy – green – and hatred – black. You wonder who on earth would want to feel envy or hatred, but if that’s what the consumer wants, then that’s what they get.
“Are you going to stand there all day, or are you actually going to buy something?” The woman demands, though she still looks nonchalant as her eyes flick back and forth across the page.
You shrug, letting your fingers slid across vial after vial until it settles on one. Its color is maroon. Trying to hide your uncertainty, you grasp the vial tightly between your fingers and practically throw it on the counter top. Perfect nonchalance.
The woman looks up from her book, and gives you a sickening grin, as if she knows what you’re all about. “That’ll be seventeen forty,” she declares.
You hand over the cash, and she puts the vial in a peppy paper bag that you carry off with you to your next destination: a little coffee place where you’re meeting a friend.
You get there first, and order a cup of coffee while you wait. Your peppy paper bag is in the trash; the vial is tucked in your coat pocket. When your friend arrives, she spots you immediately. She waits until she’s got her drink to even acknowledge your existence, though.
“Hello,” she says as she slides into her seat. “I gotta be honest; I was surprised to get your text. I thought you were mad at me.”
Harsh words rise up in your memory. You just shrug. “I was. But then I got over it.”
“If it means anything to you, Alex seemed a bit down earlier. I think she kind of regrets what she said.”
You take a sip of coffee to avoid responding, trying to ignore the seed of doubt that sprouted at your friend’s revelation. When your friend starts chatting about homework and things, you let her.
Something catches your attention – there’s a television along the back wall. It’s set on a news channel. The reporter’s words are muted, but you can see the title of the news is “Russia Threatens War for False Emotions.” The captions tell you that America, in an effort to make peace with their longtime enemy, had secretly given Peaceful to key Russian diplomats.
You’re starting to wonder if you’ll ever get an opportunity when your friend declares that she’s hungry and gets up to buy a muffin. With all due haste, you pull the vial out from your pocket and pour it in her coffee.
Your friend returns, biting into a muffin.
“Melissa told me a secret,” you say, referring, of course, to your friend’s friend.
“Oh?” Your friend says, sipping her coffee.
Your confidence surges. Isn’t this what Alexa had accused her of? Keeping a secret? Which, in all honesty, was one that you had every right to keep. And one, you suppose, that Alexa had every right to be angry at, in regards to your secrecy. ‘I had to learn this from Ivy of all people? We are supposed to be best friends. That means no secrets between us! And Ivy knew? Ivy? Jesus!’
“Yes,” you say. “She said she’s dating your ex.” Which you know is actually perfectly true, but not because she told you. And you know you probably didn’t need to go through the effort of getting a bottled emotion to get a proper reaction out of her, but honestly, how does the saying go? An eye for an eye?
And it has the desired effect. “What!” Your friend screeches. She stands up so fast that her chair grates against the tile floor. Several people look your way. A few of them smile pleasantly. And you try not to smile back at them. Even though you feel horribly guilty, you try not to care. Because now you are even. Surely that’s all that matters.
Your friend forgets about you. She forgets about her muffin and her coffee. She yanks her phone out of her purse, and storms outside.
Your friend leaves, and when she does, you hastily get up and throw the vial away. The label on it sticks up, though you’ve departed too hastily to realize it. The next person who gets up to throw something away does, though. They see it reads hatred. And, with a wadded up peppy paper bag in their own purse, they’re really too blissful to care.