Ado looked down at the bottom of her shoe with annoyance, “Lot, I just stepped in gum!”
Her husband was busy looking at his tired reflection in the storefront window. His belly girth had grown and the bags under his eyes were swollen and grey. But he caught the shining spark of his gold watch and felt better. All those hard working hours in the office were worth it, when he could flaunt his wealth.
“Don’t worry about it dear, we’ll buy you a new pair.” He held out his arm for her to grab hold so they could continue their stroll.
She muttered under her breath but latched onto his elbow.
The had lunch in a picturesque bell-tower with vines winding up the sides, where Ado complained of the draft and Lot dismissed the wine selection haughtily. They sent their waiter away with a bag of her gum-sole shoes to dispose of as they admired her new red-soled replacements.
On the way back to the hotel they whispered to each other in disgust about the citizens of the city. They were tattooed and pierced, unhurried, simplistic people with easy smiles, and dirty jokes. Lot proclaimed his intention to finish his work early so they could depart the city as soon as possible without looking back.
A short, purple haired witch stood at a corner market with her wife, an amazonian black transgender individual. Her green eyes gleamed with glee as she overheard Lot and his wife laughing at the city-folk. She could hardly hold back a snort as Ado lamented the lack of yoga centers in the city, and how “un-centered” she felt.
“Let it pass, honey”, her partners smooth maple voice circled her, as they picked through the apples. The witch grinned, “oh absolutely not. I never miss a chance to share a parting gift with visitors to our fair city!” She lifted her wife’s henna painted hand and kissed a knuckle, “I’ll meet you at the ceremony, just have to pop home for a moment” Her wife shook their lovely mane, “Padma will never forgive you if you are late, but I’ll save you a seat love, do your thing!”
It only took the little witch a few minutes to get home and prepare her herbaceous recipe on the stove. It bubbled and smoked up the entire kitchen, while she whispered a few words over the concoction.
A few days later Lot and Ado sat comfortably in first class, and ordered a couple of cocktails to celebrate. “I am just so glad we are leaving that den of weirdo’s and heathens! Did you notice they didn’t even have a single church there?” Ado shivered, “I pity the sinners. They need a missionary to go in and save their sad souls.” She took a sip of her drink and immediately spat it out, “Is this some kind of joke?” She glared at the flight attendant, who appeared surprised, “I’m sorry?”
Ado pointed at the drink in her hand, “Is this a prank? My drink taste like salty water?!” Lot tried to calm her, “Let me try.” He took a sip and frowned, “Yes, this is undrinkable. Just bring her a glass of champagne. Make it fast!” He began raising his voice, “This is unacceptable. when we take off I want to talk to the person in charge.” The shocked flight attendant took the drink and disappeared.
She returned with a freshly poured glass of bubbly, but Lot and Ado insisted it also tasted like salty water and their ire grew. They demanded the flight attendant take a sip, which she did, and tasted refreshing bubbly champagne. Very soon all the officials on the plane were gathered around Lot and Ado trying to calm their frantic anguish at their current treatment. Every drink that was handed to them and passed between their lips tasted like salty water, but to everyone else tasted fine. No one could determine the cause, and finally the pilot offered to have them escorted off the plane and wait for the next flight out. Ado and Lot quickly stopped complaining and arguing and sat back in their seats in stony silence.
On Ado’s seat back tray sat a bottle of water and a glass of white wine. Undrinkable.
The salty taste took 5 weeks and multiple doctor and therapy appointments to wear off for Lot and Ado. They could never fully take a sip of a drink again without the faintest hint of salt in the first taste.
Back at Padma’s wedding, the purple witch stood on her chair to give a toast among her friends- writers, painters, garbage-men, software developers, taxi drivers, students, cooks, and servers. “We Love, Live and work for our existence. In That Order. No judgments, just acceptance.” Everyone clinked glasses heartily and sipped their lovely cocktails through a salt rim.
Padma took her new husbands hand, “Let the salt remind us all that every sip of life comes with a taste of bitterness to drink up the goodness!”