January Contest Winner
Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Each month we hold a writing contest for our members, by our members. Writers are given parameters, such as a word count and/or a prompt. Entries are judged and discussed blindly. For this month's contest, writers had only six hours to write a 300-400 word story based on the following prompt:
The story is set in a kitchen. The story takes place in the early morning. A character fakes a skill, and the action has far better results than expected.
Enjoy the winning entry!
The Poisoner's Kitchen
by Autumn Shah
Hanging from the low-slung rafters were herbs, like in any kitchen. But here, there were also drying toads and purple-headed flowers.
The girl’s mistress was ailing in bed with something their concoctions had not yet cured. From her bed, she gave the girl instructions to only mix Her Majesty’s infertility tincture, nothing more.
So when the short, round, lady’s maid glided in, looking on her with an imperious gaze, Marguerite should not have taken the leather gloves.
“On a day as hot as it is, I can have them ready and dried just before Vespers,” she told the maid.
“No, I will return at half past None,” the porcine woman said. “And my mistress demands they not to take effect immediately. It must take slow.”
Marguerite wanted to correct the Florentine’s French, but she held her tongue and began at once to think of some other way to get one over on the Florentine lady’s maid upon her return.
Marguerite had never laced gloves before. She knew it was a tricky business, but she had no desire to be sent packing back to the Provencal countryside to care for her drunk uncle and his dirty, lice-ridden brood. Besides, she knew how pitiless and brutal the Italian could be-and how impatient.
As soon as the maid left, she used the small iron tongs to take the digitalis flakes from the waxed paper. Was she to crush and sprinkle it? Or make a liquid attar of it? She made an educated guess and did her best. She even rubbed the gloves with jasmine oil for a pleasing smell, careful all the time never to touch the gloves herself.
She hung them out to dry where the sun beat down.
At half past None she went out to check on the gloves. They still looked dark with dampness in spots. She reached out a hand and felt the glove was just dry enough.
The Serpent Queen’s maid returned to find the girl from the Provencal countryside frothing at the mouth, taking her last gasp.
“Ragazza folle,” she hissed.