The Wickedy Truth

By Anna Bertrand

Chapter 3

Phoebe was feeling the lack of sleep from the night before as she tugged the boxes into the kitchen. After going to bed after midnight, she had climbed from her bed at six without her usual good humor. Now, her sisters were smiling at her over their newspaper and offering her a cup of fresh-brewed coffee.

From the shelf she took her favorite mug with the caption: Live Dangerously or Die Cowardly emblazed on the front, what she called "the witch creed", and filled it. "What are you two smiling about—is my shirt on backwards?"

"Nooo, you look gorgeous," Piper said. "It's just weird seeing you up and about before ten o'clock."

Phoebe smiled wide and ran her hand down the plaid mini-skirt she wore. "Do I really? Wait a minute…are we still under the truth curse?"

"As far as I know," Prue said, and lifted her mug. "Would you top me off while you have the coffee?"

Phoebe poured coffee into both their mugs and then slid onto a stool across from them as Piper reached over to one of the boxes. She tugged a black twisted root from the wrappings; white mold grew in irregular patches along its length.

Prue let the business section of the paper fall from her hand. "Gross. Just when I thought it couldn't get any creepier…"

"Oh, just wait until you get to the bottom of the box, in the plastic sandwich bag," said Phoebe. "I made Nelson put it in bottom so I wouldn't have to look at it again."

Piper fumbled in the box a little too anxiously. "Which ingredient is it you're talking about?"

Phoebe held her palms out. "I don't know. Don't care to know."

"Ugg, me either," Prue huffed.

"Witches' cuisine, you'll never make good witches unless you master it," Piper told them as she sorted through the items.

"The title is all yours," Prue said.

"Everything seems to be here," Piper said, looking up from the box. "Who wants to help?"

Both sisters jumped from their stool. "I have errands to run," said Prue, making a grab for her handbag.

"And I have to study. Those mid-terms are coming up," Phoebe said, backing out the kitchen door.

Phoebe heard Piper shout from the kitchen: You'll never be good witches without it!"

3

Phoebe woke with a start. A loud and furious beep was sounding off from somewhere in the house; she could hear it over the earphones. She sat up, took the earbuds from her ears and listened. It sounded like it was coming from downstairs. Once in the hall, she was sure it was coming from downstairs and she took the steps two at a time, calling out, "Piper?"

"In the kitchen," Piper replied. "Had a little accident. Nothing horrible, or at least too horrible."

Phoebe burst through the kitchen door and stopped abruptly. Piper stood in front of the stove looking like a burnt matchstick, her hair greased and standing on end, black smudges on her face and arms. The black sludge spotted her white apron.

"Piper! What happened?"

"I don't know, I don't know. This is the hardest potion I've ever tried to make." The large pot was bubbling so she grabbed the lid and covered it. "I don't even know if I got it right." She looked as if she were close to tears. She stared at her arms and apron as if seeing the goop for the first time. "Oooh, I'm wearing it. Can you please tell me why everything has a tendency to explode around me?"

Phoebe couldn't help but laugh; it was one of those bare-truth moments when just who they were backfired in their face, this time literally. "Oh, Honey, it's a strong potion—it has to be to protect us from the Aox."

"Yeah? Well I bet Mother never had anything explode in her face while she concocted it."

Phoebe grabbed a hand-towel from the countertop and began wiping the thick, sticky goop from Piper's face. "I wouldn't know about that. What's up with this stuff? It's like tar."

"My theory is we paint the Aox with the stuff and stick him to a train track."

"But it's a protection spell concoction thingy," Phoebe reminded her. "Wait a minute—we're not supposed to paint ourselves with it, are we? Or…Oh God, we're not going to have to eat it! Because I would just have to take my sloppy chances with Mr. Bugger-bear out there."

"Calm down, don't panic. I'm not eating it and I made it, so relax. Besides, I think we're supposed to paint our circle with it."

"A protection circle? It's going to have to be kinda big, isn't it? Do you have enough in that pot to go all the way around San Francisco? Because there's school, and your restaurant, and Prue's—"

"Phebes, we'll worry about the particulars later. I'm not even sure it is for a circle. I just don't know."

"Okay, okay." Phoebe noticed the goop was getting harder to remove. "You need to go jump in the shower before this stuff really dries on you and you can't get it off."

Piper sighed. "Yeah." She walked stiffly toward the kitchen door. "Can you get the door for me? Thanks."

"Sure. Oh, and don't forget, sunset is in less than an hour. I wouldn't want to be in the shower when, if, he shows up…"

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