MYRTLE MARSCAPONE has just read the news that ELIZA PANCAKES has passed. She solemnly puts down her tablet computer and lets the screen time out to black.
Living alone in her new home has given her a quiet existence, a loneliness. But it is something she’s felt before. She once had a husband, the man who gave her the name ‘MARSCAPONE’.
She was born as MYRTLE SOO, the daughter of a wealthy immigrant from the East. SOO had arrived in New York City shortly before the turn of the century and married a local woman who died shortly after MYRTLE’s birth. The young MYRTLE was raised by her severe father, who refused to speak anything but English to his young daughter.
MYRTLE was married off to MR.MARSCAPONE early in her days. Though it had been arranged by her father, the married pair were happy and MR.MARSCAPONE afforded the young woman a great deal of freedom. Their first twenty years passed uneventfully and childlessly; by studying Newton’s alchemy, she began work toward Immortality. She suspected she’d been able to extend her own life, but something was surely still missing from the grand master’s notations. She left the city to fight in the Great War of the forties.
Coming home, she soon realized the man who’d been presented as her elder looked the same day after day. Suspicion of his supernatural qualities raged, but MYRTLE kept silent, hoping he’d come to her without confrontation.
Years went by and MYRTLE’s impatience with her own failures to develop the secret of Immortality flared. She confronted her ageless husband but despaired when he revealed that his secret was vampirism, and he could not teach her the secret of the greatest of Potions.
MYRTLE went on to bear a single son in the twilight of her youth, the ill-fated KEVIN MARSCAPONE. She desperately hoped he would prove to be an assistant to her quest, but he became wrapped up in his father’s wars and though he had a great deal of Talent, it went largely undeveloped in his youth.
The Y2K crisis was a grand setback for the allies of VINCENT MARSCAPONE, the Prince of Elysion, but instead of suffering true death at the hand of his enemies, he sacrificed his body in our realm, hiding what remained of his spirit within his son.
MYRTLE has prolonged her life as long as possible, but today she remains as an elderly spellcaster, desperate but despairing that her studies will be answered. Her husband now all-but-dead and her son absorbed in the Defense of Dream, she has begun to give herself up to retirement.
Her family inextricably tied to STRAUD and his allies, she quietly reflects. A lifetime of pursuing her Talent has led her to this : an old woman alone in a pink house.
// MARSCAPONE SR. RANCH //
(thinking) YET ANOTHER OBITUARY…
MYRTLE stares at the black tablet for a few moments before closing her eyes and shaking her head. She had just barely known ELIZA, although she had; before her relocation to STRAUD’s FORGOTTEN HALLOW, she had lived just a few minutes down the street.
The two had met a few times coming to and from STRAUD’s functions; MYRTLE had thought the young woman had an unforgiving glance, a quiet cruelty.
But her thoughts wandered. She could think on the woman only for a moment before she flitted to her own need for comfort. This house was not a home; in a moment of pity she’d left her son to his own devices and decided to… retire. But it lacked one very important piece of furniture:
(thinking) MY CAULDRON…
And why had she left it? Surely she could have come up with some kind of incantation to move it, shrink it, anything. And yet, she had felt afraid to damage it, to change it in any way.
(thinking) MY CAULDRON…
A sudden old fire of anger rises in her heart.
(thinking) I DON’T NEED IT.
The woman walks into the kitchen and rifles through her cabinets. They are a clatter of pots and pans – some of them had moved here covered in dust.
From the mess she retreives a dated crockpot – name brand with a brown powercord. She sets it out on the counter and glares at it.
Later that afternoon, MYRTLE leaves the modest ranch home and walks down the street.
MYRTLE grits her teeth while walking down the street. Her tightened jaw produces a tight-lipped grimace that many who know her find characteristic.
Her simple goal is to buy a sack of potatoes.
When she arrives at the grocery store, she is struck with a twinge of irritation. No one here knows who she is. She’s just an ordinary… old woman.
(thinking) YUKON GOLD.
She eyes a five-pound bag of organic mashers. But before she picks up the bag, she slips her hand into her right pocket to ensure she still has the five-dollar bill she retreived before leaving her home.
She thanks the stars that she’s evaded pick-pockets for yet another day.
The lines at the cashier’s stands indicate another unfortunate truth to MYRTLE:
Once she gets home, she throws the sack on the counter inelegantly. She had had to insist that she didn’t need paper or plastic, nor had she brought her own shopping bag. She simply wanted to carry the bag of potatoes home with her bare hands.
Slowly, scared, she plugs in the crockpot. The stench of burning dust rises from the interior of the appliance.
The smell reminds her of a time long-past and she feels suddenly embarrassed, thinking of her cauldron.
MYRTLE’s cauldron, standing at her son’s residence, had been with her since she bought the flat on the edge of the park in the late twenties. Back then it had been easier to haul around enormous bowls of iron without anyone turning an eye. Easier, but then again, not easy.
She’d mixed countless potions in the old gal. But now it lay in the backyard of her … layabout … son. She’d left it, yes, in a moment of generosity. And staring at her pitiful crockpot, well, it seemed to have been too generous.
A florish of her hands and ‘pfft!’
The beginnings of a potion of emotional stability arise in the pot. Mindfulness? Mind-less-ness.
It was a simple thing to make sure the amount was correct, it was a simple thing to ensure the mixture was the proper viscosity, but where would it go from here?
The potatoes were cubed; something she hadn’t bothered to do in the cauldron. No, she usually chucked them in whole – the splash was always satisfying. But today she was stuck with –
The smell quickly worsens as the cord’s connection to the crockpot catches fire. Melting plastic stinks up the kitchen as MYRTLE begins to panic.
SHIT! SHIT! SHI-I-IT!!
MYRTLE pulls a towel off the oven and attempts to stifle the fire. Thankfully there is little but dust to catch and the fire settles, leaving MYRTLE alone with a failed potion in a cloud of disgust and shame.