The glass cabinets of grandmothers are always filled with mysteries. It was from that trove of trinkets that the little girl pulled the one thing she thought wouldn’t be missed – a cup. It was silver speckled with rust, and it had rubies embedded in its side. She didn’t know they were real rubies when she bundled it under her shirt. It looked so ordinary sitting behind the jewellery and porcelain statues.
Her grandmother stirred soup in the kitchen, her wooden spoon cutting through steam and splashing drops onto her apron as she worked. The smell of pumpkin wafted through the house, as well as a bite of apple and mint. It followed her through the door and clung to her skin, until the wind had time to wash it away. She hurried to the herb garden with the cup pressed to her skin. When she kneeled in the dirt and pulled the cup out from its hiding place, she stopped to look at the finely cut rubies and the triangles that glittered within. It looked like another dimension.
She plunged the cup into the earth and packed the soil in tight before flipping it on its head. Her grandmother’s voice drifted into the garden. She was singing the same twisted lullabies that she’d so often been caught humming to herself before bed, or over a good book. The little girl hummed along, while pulling dirt out of the garden bed and building an empire out of the piles. Each had the same intricate detailing on the outside, matching the cups interior. It was a pattern that had been pressed into the silver well before the little girl was a thought in her parents’ minds – before she was a thought in the worlds’.
The last note sung far in the kitchen, where the sun had just poked in through the blinds and hit the counter. The little girl placed the sparkling cup atop her creation. The crown of the kingdom. She didn’t notice the swishing footsteps of her grandmother closing in by her side. She got up and dusted off her knees before stepping back to admire her work. Her grandmother’s hands slid to her shoulders. She jumped when the long fingers squeezed by her collarbones.
“You scared me Grandma!” she looked up, hesitantly. Her grandmother scowled, the fine wrinkles pressing deeper into her skin. “I… I made a princess castle!”
Her grandmother sighed and patted at her shoulder. The little girl stepped past her, looking back at her castle before fleeing to the waiting concoction inside, following the smell streaming from the open door as a path.
Her grandmother stood with her hands on her aproned hips, a smile on her crooked lips. When she bent down she held a hand to her spine, just in case it cracked. In the other she held the skinny neck of the cup. She didn’t brush the dirt off the silver. She bent further and scooped new dirt into the cup. The last ingredient of her potion.