TRANSCRIPT: Mike Danovich could not be happier to be submitting to Gateways again. His other works have been seen at Chicago Theatre Marathon, Ghostlight Ensemble Theatre, and Gorilla Tango Theater. As an actor, he has performed around Chicago with Otherworld Theatre Company, Brown Paper Box Co, Apollo Theater, First Folio Theater, Theatre at the Center, and Kokandy Productions. He is a proud graduate of Columbia College Chicago. This is “The Recipe”.
“Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble…” Bah. Say this phrase
once in front of someone, even in jest, and they label you a witch for life. But it’s much more
than that. Being a witch is a lifestyle. It’s not always making potions, placing hexes, eating small
children…only sometimes, not always.
I’m sure many people would ask: who even cares about the label of ‘witch’ these days?
It’s only a word; a name for something that most people can’t even comprehend. If only they
knew the power in a name. It’s been years since our kind has been able to show our faces.
Decades since we last visited a small town or village. I wouldn’t be able to tell you the last time I
saw a face other than Sharlee.
“It is time, sister,” she cries. I groan, sitting up, and call back to her from inside our hut.
“What’s the point if we make this today or tomorrow? It hasn’t helped over the past sixty years.”
Optimistically, she pokes her head in. “Ah, but today is a different day.” Her normally wrinkled
face looks younger than it has in a long time; it’s amazing what a new attitude can do to your
body. Sunlight eeks into the shack behind her, slightly blinding me. “You need to get up and do
your share.” She stares me down until I begin to slowly get up. She knows me too well. I tend to
stay in bed until she watches me get up; a poor habit stemming from my youth. “Fine, I’ll get
up,” I retort, “but I won’t be happy about it.” She smiles. “Cass, when have you ever been
happy?” She exits the hut once again and I hear her practically skip back over to the fire, ‘skip’
being a relative term for our age. She’s not wrong; I can’t recall the last time I would consider
myself to be ‘happy’.
Moaning and groaning, I roll myself out of bed, giving as quick a stretch as I can without
breaking anything. At my age, it’s a miracle that I can accomplish anything without snapping
like spaghetti. No sense in changing into my dress robes for this; haven’t needed those since the
late 1800’s. The world has become more dramatic over the last century: hotter hots, colder colds.
The fabrics of old won’t help anymore. These days you either let your skin flaps hang out from
the heat or bundle up so tightly nothing can escape. Today is on the crispier side: long sleeves
and something to cover your legs from the chill. Luckily there’s no snow on the ground at the
moment, but the leaves changed color a few weeks ago. Slowly, I step into my warm,
comfortable jeans and wrap myself in my nice-ish shawl. Another day; another attempt.
I step out into the late autumn air and watch Sharlee hovering over the campfire.
Occasionally giggling to herself, I make my way over to stand opposite her. Holding a small frog
in each hand, her gaze is enthralled by the flame. Clearing my throat ever so obnoxiously, I
attempt to catch her attention. Her stare moves from the flame to my eyes, glaring deep into my
soul. Highly unnerving. “Coffee?” she asks, breaking the tension. I’m stunned. I never know
how her brain works; how she can stand there with two frogs in hand thinking about coffee, but
I’m not going to turn it down. “Yes, of course, I’ll take some coffee, but first,” taking the
slippery lumps from her grasp, “I’ll take these.” Muttering something about how she can never
have any fun, she drudges over to the small pile of tin cans next to the hut. Picking up one of the
cans, she lifts the plastic lid up to sniff the contents. It doesn’t smell too pleasant, whatever it
might be. “Hold on, I can fix that,” she says, placing the lid back on top. Shake, shake, shake.
The contents of the can rattle around. A slight pause. Shake, shake…shake. She raises the lid
once more and takes a whiff. “There we are. Notes of cinnamon, tobacco, whiskey, and coconut;
my favorite.” I’ve told her time and time again that if it’s warm and wakes me up, I don’t care
how it tastes.
Coffee brewing over the open flame, Sharlee takes a seat. “Today, we’re attempting
something new.” Oh? It’s been so long since we’ve found new magicks. “Late last night, during
the solstice, I stumbled upon a book I’ve never seen before. No title, but the cover is nice.” She
pulls the book out of the satchel draped across her bony shoulder. It’s a smallish book covered in
what looks like some red leather/yellow leather combination. “I almost tossed it aside after
finding it, but near the back of the book, I came across something rather interesting. It’s easier if
you read it for yourself.” Cautiously, I take the book from her feeble hand. It’s lighter in my
hand than I thought. I flip through the book, page after blank page. For a moment, I assume
Sharlee is pulling my leg, when I flip right past it. I go back to the section she talked about and
Recipe for Happiness
On the morning of the Solstice, you must find:
The hue of Helios, born on a fruit’s rind,
What lands on the feet of a bird once lain,
Do not forget to grab the grain,
Upon the back of hogs, you see
A prize most tasteful, be swift or they’ll flee,
Together all these materials bring,
Smash, sear, knead, present, and sing,
To the Gods above your mortal plight,
This recipe you create tonight.
The last few items will be the worst,
Be glad you gathered the others first.
One element you hunt and seek:
You will know the feeling with no need to speak.
You feel it deep within your heart,
It’s even worse when you’re apart.
The last of these is quite sublime;
I’ve wasted enough, so forgive the rhyme.
Upon a face, you’ll wind three hands
Or in a glass you find the sands.
Go, get along, run, search, make haste;
Do not let this recipe go to waste.
New magick, indeed. No frogs’ legs, no eyeballs, nothing we have in storage in spades.
Items we must travel to find. “This could take all day,” I cry. “No need to fret, Cass; I have
already gathered most of the items.” I’m floored. “Then why would you wake me up? I could
have enjoyed the day in the shack.” She smiles. “But then we would not have enjoyed the day
together.” I hate how right she is. The smugness of her smile is what’s truly infuriating. I enjoy
spending my days with her and I know she enjoys being with me, but to elbow me in the gut with
that smirk? “Alright then, sassy pants, pour me some of that coffee and bring me up to speed.”
The warmth from the coffee hurts as I drink it down, but it’s nice to not feel completely
chilled to the bone. She takes a long sip as well. “While you were asleep, I gathered most of the
items. Honestly, they were pretty easy to find.” There it is; that smugness once again. “Well,
huntress supreme, where are they?” “I have hidden them for later this evening. You read the
recipe; we must wait for this evening before preparing it.” Fine. She’s right; she’s always right.
“All right, what else do we need?” She hesitates (that’s never a good sign). “Well, that is why I
need your assistance. We still need the last two items. I have no idea what they are or how to get
them.” Oh no. She’s the brains, I’m the brawn, and when the brains are stumped, we don’t really
get much done. “The only reference we have is what was given in the recipe, so for now, I say
we start with something solid from the text.” I look back down at the book, reading over the lines
when something catches my eye. “Sharlee, how many instances of three hands have you heard in
your life?” Pondering for a moment, nothing comes to mind. I give that same smirk she always
gives to me; this time, I’m the brains. “How does it feel? To not know the answer when I do?”
She can’t hold back her contempt. “Yeah yeah yeah, what is it then? Out with it.” “Why spoil the
fun? We can walk there from here.” I rise, taking her by the hand and drag her along with me
further into the wood.
We walk for almost an hour when we reach the edge of the wood. “Enough, Cass.
Enough. I am tired from my hike this morning. Tell me where we’re going.” All right, my fun
has come to an end. I turn and point to the village sitting beneath us. In the center of the village,
a tall spire keeps a large clock suspended in the air. “Why would we come to the clock tower?
What does that have to do with—” She answers her own question in silence. All clocks have
three hands: hours, minutes, and seconds, as well as faces. Whatever we’re looking for lies there.
I gently take her hand in mine and we head toward the tower.
After some awful stares and glares from folks as we pass by, we reach the foot of the
clock tower. A small child stands in front of us, agog at the magnificence of the tower. Sharlee
steps up to approach the child. “Excuse me, youngling, might a little old lady ask you a riddle?” I
make a quick confused look in her direction. She whispers back “Children are excellent at
riddles. They have no barriers restricting their thoughts. Any answer makes sense in their eyes.”
The small child turns around; a young girl no more than six by the look of it. She is not scared by
our sight. Ah, the innocence of a child. Sharlee leans in. “Upon a face, you’ll wind three hands
or in a glass you’ll find the sands. What am I?” The tiny creature frowns her eyebrows for a
moment, thinking much too hard for someone her age, then decides her answer. “Time.” Sharlee
and I are astounded; it took this young child no effort at all to think of an answer. “Three hands
and a face; a clock. Glass with sand; an hourglass. Both keep track of time.” Clever girl. I
approach the young one as well. “I also have a riddle for you, dearie. You will know the feeling
with no need to speak. You feel it deep within your heart, It’s even worse when you’re apart.”
Giggling, the creature no taller than my hip answers. “That one was much easier. It’s love. The
heart gave that one away.”
The two of us breath a sigh of relief. The puzzle is solved. The recipe was correct; those
two are a little harder to find, but Sharlee and I have collected each of those tenfold. I couldn’t
imagine living a single day without her. “Well Sharlee, I believe we have our answers.” She
nods. “I believe so, Cass. Now I believe that we have a meal to start preparing for this evening.
Let’s take our prize and we’ll be off.” I take her hand once again in mine and pat the child on the
head. “Thank you, young one.” It smiles. “Glad to help. Do you need anything else?” A smirk
appears on my face. Sharlee’s does the same. “Oh my, yes. We have something in mine.” In a
flash, I take the young child’s hand and the three of us disappear into the æther, ready to enjoy
our newfound recipe alongside our surprise dessert. What can I say? It’s a lifestyle.
Kim Fukawa has been seen all around Chicago. Most recently she has worked with The House Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, and Babes With Blades Theatre Company. She is an artistic affiliate and occasional fight choreographer with Babes With Blades.
Jasmin Tomlins has been making noises with her mouth for 33 years, most recently as a determined vintner on the streets of the Bristol Renaissance Faire and here at Gateways. She is grateful for the opportunity to give voice to these stories, and to receive the meaning that stories give voices.