The Magic Cure
By Emily Kenner
A short story based on the Magician card, written during Saturday’s “Tarot for Writers” workshop.
Legend around the village of Rosemont said there was a pool of water located somewhere in the woods. This water could cure any disease, but no one had ever seen it, and few believed – until Marcus Goldberg came to town.
Crowds gathered around as Marcus set up his small red tent and banners with proclamations such as, “Never feel ill again!” and “Are you tired of being tired? No more!” Many laughed and called him another trickster. But a few desperate folks were intrigued.
Marcus stepped up onto a box to address the crowd. “Calling all suffering: allow me to ease your pain!” His voice was smooth and his sky-blue eyes drew people in. “For a limited time, I’m offering the first 10 customers a 50 percent discount! Try my potion, and spread the word of this miracle cure! It comes from the waters of those very woods!“
The crowd gasped as Marcus pointed at the woods behind them.“How can this be?” An old man said. “No one has gone in those woods and returned.”
“Until today!” A sly grin crept across Marcus‘s face, “What ails you, sir?“
The man chuckled “What doesn’t?” He stood up from where he had been squatting on a low wall and the crowd got a better look. The man was dressed in torn clothing and walked with a limp and a cane. “I’m 84 years old and too poor for doctors! Why should I waste what little I have on your snake oil?”
“You’ve got me a all wrong, sir! Try this, you’ll see. I’ll even let you have it free, just as proof of its magic. All I ask is that you try it right here in front of everyone.”
The old man stumbled up through the crowds, all eyes on him, assessing his weaknesses. He was quite the sickly old man, wheezing and coughing along. Marcus held out a small glass potion with a mysterious liquid sloshing around inside. “Go ahead”, Marcus encouraged, “I promise you won’t regret it.”
The man grabbed the bottle greedily and chugged it. He stared at Marcus defiantly.
“I knew it!” he said, after a brief pause. “Just another trickster! What, did you think you could –”
Suddenly the old man grabbed his chest, gasped, and collapsed in a heap on the ground.
The crowd rushed to circle around him.
Marcus was uncannily calm. “Give him room. Allow the potion to do its job and he will be healed.”
“Are you insane?” a young woman yelled in the crowd. “Someone call the cops. You’re a murderer!”She pointed her finger at Marcus, her face turning red.
But before anyone could move, something miraculous happened. The old man gasped for air, pushed himself up off the ground, and faced the crowd, which fell suddenly silent.
“Sir … are you okay?“ A little boy at the edge of the crowd crept forward, looking up at the man.
The old man begin to laugh. “I’m better than okay, boy!” He stood on one leg, testing his strength, a look of surprise forming on his face. Then he stood on the other. He hopped, he jumped, he began to dance. “I feel like a kid again!“
The old man broke through the crowd, running towards the town square. “I’ve got to tell everyone of this magic cure! Thank you, magic man! Thank you!”