Flower Aether

Clara plucked a fresh bud from her water lily and held it up to her nose. She could almost smell the life, so fresh and new, wafting from it. She stood and strolled back through her garden to the workbench. Dried flowers covered the worn wooden surface. She reached across them and hooked her finger in a cog attached to her Essence Engine. 

No one else could have made one, she thought, running her fingers down the rough cogs and rubber tubing. She flipped open the lid of the tea tin attached to the top and dropped the lily bud in. Then again, had anyone thought to extract the aether from flowers to extend their own life?

It was a shame she had no poppy to mix with the lily. With just a hint of narcotic present, the brew went down smoother. She wrinkled her nose at the mead she was forced to use instead.

When the lid closed, the flower and mead fell down through a hole cut in the tin and into the tubing. Clara hummed and massaged the rubber to force the flower lower. 

The mead trickled into a glass beaker she had stolen from the hospital. Clara waited until the flower splashed down to join it before she lit the candle beneath it. She leaned her hip against the bench. Waiting. Always the hardest part.

It took the better half of two sundial turns before the bud dissolved. Clara licked her fingers and pinched out the wick. She lifted the beaker by the neck using a pair of gardening shears. Tongs would be the next tool she would take. With measured steps she moved to the end of the workbench. She turned it and poured the mixture into a tin cup. 

It no longer smelled of mead or lily, but a heady scent she associated with the first day of spring or the breaking of ice on a frozen lake. Clara lifted the cup to her lips then jumped when the door to her garden swung open. She hide the mixture behind her back. 

Doe eyed and snot nosed, her youngest sister stared. The little girl took baby steps into the garden. She fell into the rose bush Clara had so carefully tended over the winter months and snapped a branch.

Her fingers tightened around the cup behind rear back. One sip and the four year old would once again be three. Three more sips and she would be a newborn. What then would happen if the girl drank the entire thing?

Clara took a step forward before she blinked in shock. Where had that thought come from? She needed to make the most of her flowers if she wanted to keep her youth over the next year. Spring only came once. She turned her back on the child and raised the cup again to her lips. The tin tasted like blood, but nectar poured down her throat. 

She had never felt so alive.

Wordage: poppy, hide
Genre: Steampunk
Wordcount: 498


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