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The Alchemist's Bookshop [Part 3]

by Evander


AN: Heyo! Uh, I think the ending was a little bit rough? Let me know if I should try and clarify more things. Just, uh, this is the last part! I literally started it last night and finished it up this morning. So, yeah! Feel free to rip it to shreds!



Edited, but not entirely edited. I added two lines.



-

Sarah slid the cardboard carrier for the iced coffee onto the desk. “The mint mocha is for me and the… pumpkin spice is for you.” Emelia couldn’t help but linger on Sarah’s periwinkle blazer, once again in awe at her companion’s bold fashion choices. In fact, she was so smitten that she almost forgot to take mock umbrage to Sarah’s disgusted tone.

“I don’t entirely understand your problem with pumpkin spice coffee. If they’re going to offer it all year, then I’ll take them up on this offer all year.” Emelia tapped the aloe vera plant to stop it from dancing and grabbed her coffee in what she hoped to be one smooth motion. “It’s not entirely my fault. If the companies didn’t try to feed into my consumerist ways, then I wouldn’t bite.”

Sarah smiled wide — Emelia also couldn’t help but notice the cute gap between her two front teeth — and put on a strained tone of voice, as if she were speaking to her hotel customers again. “I’ve been gettin’ coffee for us for… eight weeks now? Honey, I’ve bought enough pumpkin spice for a life time. You’ve drank enough pumpkin spice too — how about you try peppermint or just mocha mint?”

Emelia stuck her tongue out and then kicked a barking tome from under the table, absently going through a checklist of all the magical things she needed to shut down — God, god, god, why don’t I just switch to being a non-magical bookshop. That’d certainly work better for this relationship. “You would honestly need to tie me up to ever force me to drink something that has mint in the title.”

Sarah leaned closer, her face almost a foot from Emelia’s. “That can certainly be arranged.” She winked.



"That's a bit forward," Emelia laughed.



Sarah shifted awkwardly.

Emelia found herself almost entranced with the glittery gold makeup and the endless sea of hot chocolate in her eyes, but then managed to compose herself and clear her throat. “Well, if I’m going to keep this business related, then I guess I’ll have to give you your books. Uh, I’ve given you the crochet books… and the books on voice acting…”

Opening up the lefthand drawer, she barely even had to look through the broken wands, half-empty potion vials, and loose pamphlets to find the two books she was looking for. “Here you go!” She handed them over the desk.

Sarah took a sip of the mint mocha iced coffee, raising her eyebrows and examining the front cover of the two small books. “Gardenin’? Ouch, Emelia, I’m wounded.”

Emelia laughed, trying to quell the raising electric current in her chest of apprehension. “You had me thinking that magic existed, Sarah! Oddities over by your grandmother’s house? I thought I might have had to call a psychic. But no! Your plants just needed water… and an exterminator.”

The jovial expression that Sarah wore quickly turned to something else — something a bit more serious. Her eyebrows furrowed, and the lights in her dark brown eyes went out. “Can I have a seat?”

“Uh, yes, sure. If you head down the religion aisle — you know where that is — and then turn left, there should be some barstools over there. Feel free to take one and come back.”

Really, Emelia shouldn’t have had to worry about Sarah finding magical stuff through her own mishaps. Klaxius, early on into her apprenticeship, had remodeled the shop in such a way that the magical sections required spellcasting to get into. It was supposed to be more friendly to the non-magic folk. There were instructions written on the walls which only trained wizards understood, given the cryptic markings. (It sucked for the sorcerer children who used to hang out in the bookshop, since they weren’t trained in the ways of magic.)

However — and anxiety buzzed in the back of Emelia’s mind whenever she remembered this fact — Emelia had been more lax in her protection. She’d invited dancing shadows for the walls, openly read tomes about curses, and kept information about gold-to-dollar exchange rates out in the open. She could halfway console herself that the normal patronage was dwindling down, but that was a lie. A less sensible part of her mind told her that this was to lean into the magical theme of the bookshop, but she knew it was out of a childish spite.

A childish spite that could cause her to lose Sarah.

Without much thinking, she slid her wand down its holster and pulled it out. A familiar copper taste tickled the inside of her mouth, signaling a worse form of anxiety attack. Emelia started to prepare one of the stronger spells to calm her fears — trying to do so quickly enough before Sarah came back, muttering the Latin words under her breath, but—

“Emelia, please stop.”

Her breath caught in her throat. Emelia looked up to see Sarah staring at her.

“If you’re doin’ what I think you’re doin’ — suspected that you’re doin’ — then I’m going to ask you to stop.” Sarah’s usual smile was pushed away, with a stony somber expression gracing her face instead.

“It’s— it’s not what you think, Sarah.” Emelia took her trembling hands and placed her wand down on the desk right next to the coffee. “Let me— let me explain.”

Sarah walked over to behind the next, set down the stool, then hoisted herself up on it. She towered over Emelia. “I’ll explain some stuff first, Em.”

Emelia started chewing on her lower lip. A familiar barking started to come from under the desk, and she kicked at the cursed tome again to get it to stop. Not now, not now, not now, not now, not now. Her thoughts spiraled beyond her control, and her soul felt like it was about to leave her body, only grounded to mortal flesh by the fact Sarah was there.

“Well, how do I explain this…” Sarah extended the “sss” sound, cocking her head to the side and looking down at Emelia. “You can stop hiding magic from me. The jig has been up since day one.”

“Jig?”

Sarah gestured over to the aloe plant, which had started its dancing again. “When I see you watering that plant, it’s pretty obvious that it’s not a toy. It’s cute, though.”

“Klaxius would kill me if he had the chance. A piano needs to drop on my head right about now.” Emelia leaned back into her leather chair, closing her eyes and letting out a slow breath. “Anything else?”

“You wear that outfit all the time — even when I invite you to my house— and people in your type of outfits come in and out of this shop all the time. At a certain point, it’s not a cosplayin’ thing. Only so many people can cosplay as Dumbledore. Ya get that?”

Emelia removed her wizard’s hat and worried fingers through her own tangled hair. “Gandalf cosplayers. Uh, we have about two of those. But yeah.”

“And I can’t think of anything else that would explain this… vibe in the shop. Sometimes the vibe is conflicting, but other times it’s just this overwhelmin’ sense of… you. Everywhere.”

“Aura.”

“Yeah, that.”

“God, I’m so sorry, Sarah. I didn’t think that you would catch on—“

“My great grandmama was a witch who specialized in gardenin’.”

Emelia’s mental filing cabinets quickly sorted through her memories and automatically pulled out the sense of dejectedness that she had felt. An old sense of magic that had died. “Oh.”

“Yeah, Em. Oh. That’s exactly what you have to say to me.”

“I’m sorry—I’m just, I’m not supposed to let non-magic folk in on this—“

“What sort of start for a relationship is this supposed to be?” Sarah’s voice edged on the end of accusatory, but she kept a hushed, soft tone.

Emelia’s heart skipped a beat. “Relationship?”

A small smile crept onto Sarah’s lips. “We’ll get back to that later— I just, I want answers. Okay?” She held out her hands, offering Emelia a chance to hold them.

Emelia took her up on the offer.

-

The backroom was a nice place to be — away from prying ears and eyes, away from the front of the shop. Well, most would consider it to be a nice place to be. Emelia tended to avoid it like the plague, trying to compartmentalize the heavy memories by just never visiting the compartment in which they were contained.

Sarah leaned against the wooden shelving, crossing her arms over her chest. The dim lightbulb, flickering ever so gently, caused her golden eye makeup to glow against her jewel-toned umber skin. “Spill, wizard.” She let a smile play on the corner of her lips.

Emelia brushed off the coating of dust on the barstool and climbed up on it, surveying the room and brushing over the scorch marks on the wall. She didn’t look towards the lefthand corner, turning her attention to Sarah again.

“What would you like to know?”

Sarah rolled her eyes. “What spell were you about to cast on yourself?”

Emelia started chewing on her upper lip, just now noticing how restricting her robes felt inside, and how sweaty her palms were getting on the wooden stool. “Calm emotions — a modified version. It’s for, uh, anxiety.”

“That’s not exactly saf… no wonder you turn into a robot.”

“Huh?”

“You’re suppressin’ stuff hardcore, Em. Magic? Emotions? That’s a terrible mix. Pray tell, oh bookish wizard o’ mine, are you trained in psychiatry? Did you study this?”

Emelia turned her face away from Sarah’s gaze, her cheeks burning . “Yes—well, no. No, I didn’t study this in-depth. I read a few books on it.” She kicked her feet at the legs of the stool. “You sound like my mentor.”

She intended to come off as playful, maybe a bit abashed, but she couldn’t exactly control her tone and bitterness seeped into her words. She rolled around the taste on her tongue before hunching forward a little bit, trying to suppress the knot in her stomach.

“Speaking of your mentor!” Even with the bounce in Sarah’s tone, she didn’t exactly sound happy. “You need to tell me about him. Or just… what happened. You carry yourself like there’s this fifty year burden on your shoulders.”

For the first time in half-a-decade, Emelia started to cry. Hot tears started racing down her face and she wasn’t even sure what to do with it.She angrily tried to wipe the tears away with the hem of her sleeve, but more just kept coming and coming and coming and—

She slid off of the barstool, ready to bolt out of the backroom and find a spell to transport the bookshop to where she wanted to go. But before she had a chance, she was engulfed in a hug by Sarah.

“It’s okay, Em.” Sarah said into her ear. “You can tell me.”

Emelia stood there, grossly sobbing into the crook of Sarah’s neck, trying to figure out how to explain her life. What’s there to say about the apprenticeship? What’s there to say about the curse? Blood oaths? “I’m… tied to this shop until I can,” she hiccuped, “find another person to run it. I-I-I can’t leave for more than a day at a time, or else the shop automatically teleports somewhere new. I,” she remembered Klaxius’s old, betrayed face and his twinkling blue eyes, “I’m stuck here. I-I wanted to travel the world, Sarah, and I’m stuck here.”

Sarah hugged her tighter.

Emelia sobbed some more.

“My-my mentor he-he wanted me to take over the shop… he had raised me to take over the shop…” Emelia closed her eyes, trying to forget the magical curses that they had hurled at each other. The scene kept on playing over in her head, like it was on a projector. “And I wanted to travel to Greece, study the ruins… learn more. I-I had read all of the books here, so I w-wanted hands-on experience.”

She broke away from Sarah’s grasp, stepping backward and towards the scorched wall. Towards the floorboards. Towards the memories. “H-he made me take a blood oath, th-threatening to burn the shop down if I didn’t. I-I have to stay here. I can’t leave. I can’t travel. I can’t attempt to break the curse.”

Emelia moved away the broken cardboard, staring at the blood-stained wood beneath her. With relative ease, she managed to lift the floorboards up. Faint light from a shimmering blue magical shield filled the room. “The-the books are under here.”

Sarah was slow to speak. “So… someone else needs to take over the shop? Is there anything else, Em?” She moved forward, the floor creaking behind her feet.

“I lived in NYC and London and New Guinea. The-the shop moves around on its own. I I-I can’t break that until-until someone else decides to take over, but-but I’m never close enough to anyone to start the transitio—“

She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up to see Sarah. Sarah, with her understanding stance and kind face. Sarah, with her dull receptionist job and dying garden. Sarah, with the nicest voice Emelia had the pleasure of hearing.

“I’ll ask again, Em.” Sarah extended a hand to pull Emelia up. Suddenly, they were both face to face. “Are you hiring?”

A wave of relief crashed down around Emelia. She wiped away her tears. “Y-yeah, I guess I am.”

Before she could say anything else, Sarah leaned in and murmured, “Can I kiss you?”

“Y-yeah, I guess you can.”


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Fri May 18, 2018 1:27 am
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inktopus wrote a review...



Yo, Adri! Since I've been following this anyway, I'm just going to go ahead and boot this from the Green Room and hopefully give you more of my in-depth thoughts about this story as a whole.

The first thing I remember thinking when I first read this was that the Emelia Sarah relationship kind of came out of nowhere. I knew it was going to happen, but even that didn't keep me from being jarred.

You do a fairly decent job of making Emelia look interested, but you don't do enough foreshadowing on Sarah's part which makes it particularly strange because she's the one who ends up initiating a romantic relationship. I also think the way Emelia experiences her attraction is kind of strange. I don't know about your experiences with that, and obviously, everyone is different, so this is just how it's different from my own experiences with being attracted to someone.

Emelia couldn’t help but linger on Sarah’s periwinkle blazer, once again in awe at her companion’s bold fashion choices.

I kind of get the admiring the clothing choices of someone you like (especially when you're a girl attracted to another girl-- aka me all the time). Buuuuuut the way Emelia thinks about it is strange to me. Usually, my thought process is "Cute [insert item of clothing here]" then "Jesus Christ, she's cute in that [thing mentioned above]". Emelia is obviously different from me, but I think that if you're even going to have her mention Sarah's clothes, it should be more about how Sarah looks in them and how Emelia feels about it. I know it might be strange to think about it so technically, and it's probably more than a little objectifying, but I'm just trying to explain my own thought process when I experience something similar and why it doesn't really connect for me when Emelia goes through the same thing.

Another detail that miiiiight help? When I'm attracted to someone, I stare. Not intentionally, but it feels like my gaze is always pulled that way. I'm always paying attention to the dumbest things that I never would notice otherwise, but because I think they're hot, I decide that every aspect of them is worth paying attention to. I think you could definitely weave stuff like this into the narrative to a greater extent and use what you already have more effectively.

Despite all my complaints about the romance itself, I love the ending! I think that if you can edit it to make it all culminate to such an awesome ending, then it'll be perfect.

I also feel like this part is the only part the really matters in the narrative. I honestly was kind of bored in the first few parts. We were all just waiting to actually get to the meat of the story, but all of it was at the end. It felt kind of unbalanced.

We get all this buildup to Klaxius, but there's not really anything other than that. You want to make a good buildup, but I think that you're missing out on other stuff because the story is hyperfocused on that. I don't know how well it'd work, but it might be worth seeing if the story is just as good or better if the audience already knows most of the stuff with Klaxius. Then, we'd understand Emelia's stakes and the story can focus more on the romance. With the current order, it feels like you're trying jam too much into too few words.

I feel like I'm jumping all over the place here, sorry about that. Next, I want to address your descriptions. I feel like you're not doing your setting justice! The majority of this story takes place in a magical bookshop, and while I definitely can imagine it, I don't think that I'm seeing what you want me to see. This story especially would be a great opportunity to exercise your descriptive writing because of the unique setting. You have so many opportunities to show the audience things that are out of the ordinary, but you end up making them mundane feeling anyway.

I think the best example I come up with right now is the dancing aloe plant.

Emelia tapped the aloe vera plant to stop it from dancing and grabbed her coffee in what she hoped to be one smooth motion.

It's a dancing plant! I don't remember if it's been mentioned much before now, but I think that a dancing plant deserves a bit more fanfare. It's understandable that Emelia treats it normally because it's normal to her, but I want to know how it's dancing. Does the dance change? Does it have a favorite?

This might seem a little silly (because it is) but I think that it's important. The best way I can word this is that the story is missing ambiance. You create ambiance by using certain types of words when you describe places, but you just don't use enough description to create an ambiance.

I feel like I'm just totally bashing this story, and that's not my intention at all! I have to say, I love the premise! I am certain that you can write this better, it's just not at its best right now. Those were really my overall impressions of the piece, so I hope that helped.

You know where to find me if you want to talk (and you know I love to talk)

~Storm




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Wed May 16, 2018 6:04 pm
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Hattable wrote a review...



Heya!!

And so we're finally here-- the last part of this story. Can't wait to see how you handle this!

Emelia tapped the aloe vera plant to stop it from dancing and grabbed her coffee in what she hoped to be one smooth motion.

Sarah's right there, but doesn't notice? Or are dancing aloe vera plants normal and I've mistakenly been thinking it's magical this whole time? Ooops

Sarah smiled wide — Emelia also couldn’t help but notice the cute gap between her two front teeth — and put on a strained tone of voice, as if she were speaking to her hotel customers again.

This, and the previous part with the blazer, are done really well. You toss in these little bits of Emelia noticing cute things about Sarah and it all flows really naturally-- none of it is forced. You can write a good smitten character, haha.

“I’ve been gettin’ coffee for us for… eight weeks now? Honey, I’ve bought enough pumpkin spice for a life time.

Eight weeks, dang. Also, “life time” should be a single word!

Emelia stuck her tongue out and then kicked a barking tome from under the table, absently going through a checklist of all the magical things she needed to shut down

This would be a bit more believable for Sarah to not have noticed if not for the barking. I'm fairly certain she'd hear that? Unless there's some way that she doesn't hear it, you might wanna change this around a bit. You could possibly have the tome “bite” down on Emelia's foot or something, and she kicks it off? Like Hagrid's monster book in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

That’d certainly work better for this relationship. “You would honestly need to tie me up to ever force me to drink something that has mint in the title.”
Sarah leaned closer, her face almost a foot from Emelia’s. “That can certainly be arranged.” She winked.

This is very suggestive, and is much more straightforward than any advances Sarah made previously, if any. We, the readers, know that Emelia is developing feelings-- that's pretty obvious. Sarah seems interested? But she hasn't really flirted much or done anything to imply that to Emelia? Unless I'm just really really dumb when it comes to romance, which is probably the case.

Either way, this is super forward and I think Emelia should be a bit more flustered? Describing her as entranced just gives me the image of her vaguely listening to this, too distracted by staring at Sarah, whereas I think it'd be more realistic for her to, like, blush and hastily try to change the topic? I dunno, uhh-- Also, if you made her blush, it could add to the build-up of Sarah realizing Emelia has feelings for her? Not sure if that makes sense--

Well, if I’m going to keep this business related,

I think “business related” should be hyphenated.

Sarah took a sip of the mint mocha iced coffee, raising her eyebrows and examining the front cover of the two small books.

Two books, so two covers-- let's make that baby plural!

Emelia laughed, trying to quell the raising electric current in her chest of apprehension.

I'd take “of apprehension” and put it right after “electric current” so this doesn't sound as weird. I also think it should be “rising” instead of “raising”, but I'm not sure on that--

“You had me thinking that magic existed, Sarah! Oddities over by your grandmother’s house? I thought I might have had to call a psychic. But no! Your plants just needed water… and an exterminator.”

The ellipsis is weird. The voice flows nicely and sounds lively, then the ellipsis sort of kills it. Makes it slow down and lose all that emotion. You use ellipses a lot in your dialogue, and most of the time you do them just fine, but this one had me pausing at how it distorted the voice.

“Uh, yes, sure. If you head down the religion aisle — you know where that is — and then turn left, there should be some barstools over there. Feel free to take one and come back.”

That's quite a way to send her, Emelia, haha.

There were instructions written on the walls which only trained wizards understood, given the cryptic markings. (It sucked for the sorcerer children who used to hang out in the bookshop, since they weren’t trained in the ways of magic.)

I misinterpreted this at first and thought it was saying there were instructions on how to behavior so that non-magical people wouldn't be suspicious of the wizards in the shops. That seemed impractical, but I worked it out now! Instructions for the trained wizards to access the magical materials? Maybe this could be made a tad clearer, though I'm not sure how--

However — and anxiety buzzed in the back of Emelia’s mind whenever she remembered this fact — Emelia had been more lax in her protection.

“Emelia's mind” could probably be replaced with “her mind” and it'd work just fine, considering you call her by name just after the second dash. It flows better and retains its clarity.

She’d invited dancing shadows for the walls, openly read tomes about curses, and kept information about gold-to-dollar exchange rates out in the open.

Invited? If she did invite these Peter Pan-esque shadows, maybe reword it as “invited dancing shadows to live on the wall” or, if they're not stuck there, use some word other than “live”? Invited for just sounds odd to me.

Also, I just realized what you were going for with the gold-to-dollar pamphlet from the first part. I thought it was like a Cash 4 Gold type place, haha-- but nah you're going for currency exchanges-- Muggle to wizard money, basically, huh? Maybe it should be phrased as “dollar-to-gold”, then? Or, oh, you might also mean the reverse-- Wizard to Muggle money-- in which case it's good as it is, oops.

She could halfway console herself that the normal patronage was dwindling down, but that was a lie.

Is “normal patronage” in reference to Klaxius's typical customers? If so, I think that could be clarified a bit better? I just... had to read this sentence over a few times, then the whole paragraph itself over again, to try and understand it. Maybe “the normal patronage from Klaxius's time” would be enough to fix it. All just suggestions, though!

Without much thinking, she slid her wand down its holster and pulled it out.

Is her wand in her sleeve? Is the holster, like, around her forearm? Holster had me thinking it was on her hip, like a gun, but then I recalled how wizards like to keep a couple tricks up their sleeves. It might just be me being bad at reading, but you could clarify this with “slide her wand down its holster in her sleeve and pulled it out”. Boom boom. That's-- easy? I don't know if that's too clunky for you, though, so whatever you think works!

Emelia started to prepare one of the stronger spells to calm her fears — trying to do so quickly enough before Sarah came back, muttering the Latin words under her breath, but—

First dash could be a comma, I think. Second dash works as a break-off for the sentence, since Sarah interrupts her action, so that's all good!

“If you’re doin’ what I think you’re doin’ — suspected that you’re doin’ — then I’m going to ask you to stop.” Sarah’s usual smile was pushed away, with a stony somber expression gracing her face instead.
“It’s— it’s not what you think, Sarah.” Emelia took her trembling hands and placed her wand down on the desk right next to the coffee. “Let me— let me explain.”

Sarah hasn't explicitly stated that she's aware, or at least suspicious, that there's magic, yet Emelia goes ahead and reveals her wand anyway. I think it would be more realistic, and more in-character, for Emelia to try to keep her wand hidden? Pretend she doesn't know what Sarah is talking about? Especially given that she was just about to cast a spell to ward off the anxiety that Sarah might find out, which makes this a little contradictory for Emelia to do.

Sarah walked over to behind the next, set down the stool, then hoisted herself up on it. She towered over Emelia. “I’ll explain some stuff first, Em.”

Did you mean “desk” instead of “next”, here?

Emelia started chewing on her lower lip. A familiar barking started to come from under the desk, and she kicked at the cursed tome again to get it to stop.

So, Sarah would definitely notice that now that she's behind the desk as well (I think), haha. I'm sort of now getting the idea that Sarah has noticed these things and was just pretending not to. Not sure if you were going for that all along. The aloe vera plant bit in this part was a little out there, though, considering Emelia prodded it right in front of her. Seems like something that Emelia would be wary of doing if she wanted to keep all this secret from Sarah.

“Well, how do I explain this…” Sarah extended the “sss” sound,

This is a super minor, nit-picky thing regarding the formatting, but I think this would look neater if you used single quotation marks for the “sss” portion. Or, better yet, if you italicized it? Italicized could also work on its own or with quotation marks, so that's neat. This is just a really minor suggestion, though!

“Klaxius would kill me if he had the chance. A piano needs to drop on my head right about now.” Emelia leaned back into her leather chair, closing her eyes and letting out a slow breath. “Anything else?”

This feels sudden, but I'm also not entirely familiar with how people behave when a secret like this comes out. I feel like it'd make more sense to be wary until Sarah mentioned something more concrete than the aloe vera plant?

Only so many people can cosplay as Dumbledore. Ya get that?”
Emelia removed her wizard’s hat and worried fingers through her own tangled hair. “Gandalf cosplayers. Uh, we have about two of those. But yeah.”

Hahah, I love the cosplayer joke. Though, to be fair, Emelia's wizard garb could just be her style. Sarah doesn't exactly have room to go around talking about other people's clothes! *gestures to periwinkle jacket* (I think I envisioned her much more Luna Lovegood-y than you described her as, though, in clothing at least, oops--)

“What sort of start for a relationship is this supposed to be?” Sarah’s voice edged on the end of accusatory, but she kept a hushed, soft tone.
Emelia’s heart skipped a beat. “Relationship?”

Emelia previously described it as a relationship in her own head, and relationship isn't exclusively a term for romantic-type stuff (though, yes, it's typically used to describe that more often than not). Just pointing these out because there's a slight inconsistency I'm getting, especially taking into account Emelia's “relationship” thought earlier in this part (seen below), and her taking Sarah's use of the word to mean something more is a little weird considering all that.
God, god, god, why don’t I just switch to being a non-magical bookshop. That’d certainly work better for this relationship.


Though, maybe not. This isn't a super strong beat I'm playing out--

A small smile crept onto Sarah’s lips. “We’ll get back to that later— I just, I want answers. Okay?” She held out her hands, offering Emelia a chance to hold them.

Also, unless Sarah picked up that Emelia has feelings for her like she picked up on the magic, this is pretty... weird, too. People don't normally go and describe their connection as a “relationship” and then both parties get all “!! relationship?” Err-- like, Sarah's smile is kind of weird? “We'll get back to that later--”. And, apparently, assuming that Emelia has feelings for her (since Emelia hasn't outright stated so).

It all feels kind of pretentious of Sarah. Like she assumes Emelia wants to be in a relationship with her without knowing for sure, and she assumes it's a relationship (in more than a friendship sense) without them discussing it before? I dunno, though. Just the feeling I've got on this.

glow against her jewel-toned umber skin.

Wowee, that's a pretty way of wording this. I like this description, nice job on it!

“Spill, wizard.” She let a smile play on the corner of her lips.

This seems to be in the same paragraph as the previous portion, according to YWS's formatting, when it would be more proper on its own line, I think.

Emelia brushed off the coating of dust on the barstool and climbed up on it, surveying the room and brushing over the scorch marks on the wall.

“Brushed” and “brushing” are a little repetitive here. The description of her brushing off the barstool and climbing onto it also feels a little dragging, even given the short length of that bit.

“That’s not exactly saf… no wonder you turn into a robot.”

PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD, WRITER. But nah, haha, this is a pretty decent way of getting to it and making it clearer. I don't think the ellipsis really works for breaking off a word, though. I'd recommend a dash instead. I also think spelling “safe” out and then breaking it off would work just fine, as well? Reading this the way it's written forces me to say it like “saffron”, almost. So full word and a dash might be a good idea (“That's not exactly safe-- no wonder [...]”), but that's just me.

Hot tears started racing down her face and she wasn’t even sure what to do with it.She angrily tried to wipe the tears away

You missed a space between these sentences, whoops--

I-I-I can’t leave for more than a day at a time, or else the shop automatically teleports somewhere new.

Would this cause harm to her, physically? In the previous part of this story you mentioned something about her not being able to leave for very long (I think, unless that was an excerpt you shared-- probably was that, oops), but I took it to mean that she'd start experiencing some sort of physical reaction. If not, though, and the shop just teleported elsewhere, then she'd be free of it, huh? I think this could use a little more clarification.

She's attached to the shop in a way, but I get the feeling she's more literally attached due to the blood oath than sentimentally attached due to any feelings of her own. So unless physical harm comes to her, letting it go seems like it may have been something to consider.

“I’ll ask again, Em.” Sarah extended a hand to pull Emelia up. Suddenly, they were both face to face. “Are you hiring?”
A wave of relief crashed down around Emelia. She wiped away her tears. “Y-yeah, I guess I am.”
Before she could say anything else, Sarah leaned in and murmured, “Can I kiss you?”
“Y-yeah, I guess you can.”

(Awww, that's a really sweet ending.)

And done!


This part was a nice ending to the short story!! The word-flow throughout was good, and though the pacing had some issues here and there where things sort of wobbled and jumped, you handled the path to the end pretty well.

Your characters were a little... out of character. Emelia immediately dropped all guard the moment Sarah implied that she knew something was up, not waiting for clarification that Sarah knew it was magic. And Sarah's straightforwardness felt a little out of left-field, and particularly sticks out when the rest of her behavior is kind of... Not that suggestive? Haha. It was a very strong phrase amongst the rest of her personality being kind and caring and concerned.

I think a bit more information on Klaxius could have been good? My memory of the last part is sort of fusing with the sneak peek you sent me in Discord, so I'm not sure how much of him was said in the actual story, but he still feels kind of vague. Aside from all that, clarifying Emelia's forced connection to the shop is a pretty big thing (does it harm her to stay away or will it just vanish?)

Anyway, I hope this review was helpful! Expect some messages on Discord, though, because I've got some less-articulate things to say (like, dang bro, that ending was super cute and I'm gonna spam you about it now--)


Keep up the great work!

- Hatt




Evander says...


Ahh, yeah, my characters were definitely out of character. I'll probably try to... make these scene go smoother when I rewrite it. But yeah, seriously, thanks for this review. These always make me smile!




We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions.
— Isaac Bashevis Singer