The tinkle of a bell summoned Marna from the storeroom. She dusted off her hands and dabbed her face dry with a handkerchief. The tiny room was windowless and airless, and afforded little relief from the summer’s heat.
“My condolences,” the dark-haired woman said as Marna emerged.
She sounded sincere, but Marna knew better. Tears without salt, she thought bitterly, even as she feigned a gracious acknowledgement. “Mistress,” she greeted the woman. “How may I be of service?” The words tasted like stale water.
The other woman ran her gaze over the rows of bottles lining the walls. Though her expression was open, even kind, her eyes were covetous, and she absently tapped her fan against her palm.
The bottles were precisely arranged. Unlabeled as they were, it was the only way to be certain what was inside. It was also impossible for anyone outside the family to find any particular potion. There was only Marna herself now, of course.
“A tincture,” the woman said finally. “Peace, I think. These are anxious times.”
“Ah,” Marna said. “That one I don’t have on hand. If you can bide a moment, I will mix it for you now.” The dark-haired woman frowned, but shook open her fan and sat in the shop’s only chair.
She did, as a matter of fact, have Peace on hand, but it pleased her to make the Guildmistress wait. Petty, perhaps, but there it was. Her hands worked quickly, mixing the various extracts and distillations with practiced ease. At the last, she added three drops of sea-water, for her own grief; a breach of the Trust, that. She stoppered the bottle and sealed it, pressing her signet into the soft black wax.
Of course, she refused payment. “A gift,” she said. “In return for your sympathy.”
“The cure for anything is salt water… sweat, tears or the sea.”
~ Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke
For your Creative Non-Fiction tell us about the last time that one of these three things “cured” you. If you are going with Fiction, have your character resolve a problem using one of the three (or all three!!!). Limit: 300 words.