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Drinking Spirit

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The fisherman first encountered the healer at his front door, in the late hours of the night.

“Can I help you?” the fisherman asks, looking over the healer. She smiles shyly, her green eyes gleaming in the moonlight.

“I think I can help you actually,” the healer answers, offering the fisherman a filled bottle.

“Spirit, eh?” the fisherman sighs looking over the innocent liquid, “I’m not really interested, sorry. Take your wares elsewhere.”

“If that is what you wish,” the healer replies, bowing her head and disappearing out into the night. The fisherman watches her silhouette vanish before he shuts the door. He feels bad for the weaker souls who rely on spirit to preserve themselves.

Shaking the thought out of his head, he goes about his daily business, until the healer returns later that very week.

“I don’t need your spirit!” the fisherman growls, annoyed to see her again, “Please don’t come back here.”

“I don’t mean to bother you, master,” the healer responds and lowers her head before slyly adding, “It’s just that I can see great sadness in your eyes, and I merely wish for you to be happy like I am.”

“What?”

“I feel a longing for purpose in your life, a desire for something more than what you have. I can give it to you; I can bring you true happiness.”

“Please don’t come back,” the fisherman repeats quietly and slams the door on her. His feet stay stuck to the spot as he considers what she had told him. He contemplates whether or not he’s ever truly been happy in his life.

“I’ve never done anything wrong,” the man murmurs to himself, turning slowly from the doorway as the question worms its way into the gray matter of his brain, “Why am I not happy like other people?”

When the healer returns the following day, the fisherman seems less defensive.

“Hello again, master,” the healer greets him, curtsying gracefully at his doorstep.

“Why don’t you think I’m happy?” he answers, immediately revealing his thoughts.

“I can just feel it about you,” the healer replies, a smirk hiding at the corners of her mouth, “It’s just the natural plight of man to be lonely and afraid, but spirit can help you.”

The fisherman purses his lips apprehensively before speaking:

“Fine, how much for a bottle?”

“Oh no,” the healer says, the green flashing in her eyes, “you need it too much, master; I wouldn’t dream of charging you.”

“Oh, alright then,” the fisherman smiles, feeling assured by the woman.

“Here you are,” the healer grins, withdrawing a flask of spirit from her pack. She reaches the bottle outwards, its clear fluid contents glowing warmly. After a brief pause of hesitation, the fisherman takes the bottle from the healer, looking it over.

“Enjoy,” she smiles and again vanishes from the fisherman’s sight.

Barely registering the healer’s departure, the fisherman opens up the bottle. He takes a gentle sip of the beverage. As it runs past his tongue and down his throat, the man notices with surprise that it tastes no different than water. He raises an eyebrow, wondering how people could possibly depend upon it as much as they do.

He takes another gulp of the drink, closing his door to hide his presence from his neighbors.

Feeling the slight warmth of relief settling in his stomach, the fisherman allows himself to smile; the spirit feels awfully comfortable in his belly.

The healer returns several days later to check in with the man.

“How did you enjoy your spirit?” the healer asks cheerfully, standing before the fisherman.

“It was nice,” the man answers shifting his weight from leg to leg before confessing, “Honestly, I’ve really been hoping you’d come back.”

“Oh, would you like another bottle?”

The fisherman nods:

“Sure. What will it cost?”

“Oh, it won’t ever cost you a thing,” the healer replies, cocking her head playfully and extending the familiar glass container, "have another.”

“I feel guilty accepting this from you,” the fisherman admits quietly, taking the bottle, “How about I give you some of the fish that I caught today?”

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly,” the healer politely declines his offer.

“I insist,” he adds and quickly fetches a large salted fish from within his house. The healer apprehensively takes the fish, thanking the man before departing once more.

Happy to have the spirit in hand, the man quickly unseals the container. Not knowing when the healer will return, he vows to ration the bottle out.

By the time the healer returns a week later, the bottle has been empty for nearly a week.

“I was scared you wouldn’t come back,” the fisherman says nervously, seeing the healer. He lets a smile fill his face, revealing newly-yellowing teeth lining his weak gums.

“I’ll always come back for you, master,” the healer answers.

“Listen, I’ve been thinking,” the fisherman starts slowly, “how about you come by daily and each day I’ll give you the biggest fish that I’ve caught? How does that sound?”

“That sounds like a fair deal to me,” the healer nods, shaking the fisherman’s hand. She notices a slight tremble through his fingers.

The next day when she returns, the fisherman eagerly awaits her.

“Here you are!” he says quickly, handing her a massive slab of freshly caught meat.

“Pleasure doing business with you,” the healer laughs, brushing her hair out of her face, collecting the fish in her pack, and handing a new bottle to the fisherman.

“Ah, that hits the spot,” he sighs, quickly slurping down the drink as his door hangs ajar for all to see. Drunk on spirit, a stupid smile rests on his face.

“You know, I couldn’t even taste it at first,” the man giggles, swaying slightly over his feet.

“I hear that a lot, actually.”

“I’ll bet you do,” the fisherman smiles, returning into his house, bottle in hand and weight swaying uneasily over his feet.

Soon enough, the healer starts selling him two bottles a day.

“You’re a life saver!” the fisherman happily greets her, his teeth blackening terribly. His skin has decayed to a flaky yellow shade, but his pride flowers as it never had before.

“These are small fish,” the healer complains, seeing the two fish that he holds out for her.

“I’m real sorry about that,” the man says sheepishly, “I’ve just haven’t been able to focus too well lately. I’m sure you understand.”

“I understand,” the healer sighs, “but you have to understand that there are a lot of other people who need spirit too, people who might have more to share with me.”

“I’m sorry,” the fisherman answers quickly, nearly sobbing at her implications.

Narrowing her eyes, the healer stalks away with her fish, clearly displeased with the fisherman. The fisherman shivers. To ease his trouble, he quickly chugs the first flask of spirit.

When she returns, the fisherman hands over two fish, both as large as the first he ever gave her.

“How did you catch this?” she asks, surprised at the bounty.

“It’s not important,” the man says in slur, licking his lips thirstily, “Just give me the spirit, alright?”

“As you wish,” the healer shrugs, handing off more to the shaking man. Most of his teeth have fallen out by now, and his eyes have sunk into his skull, surrounding themselves with dark, bruised skin. He needs the drink just to replenish strength to his ailing soul.

A day later, as the healer approaches the un-kept house, she finds the door hanging open.

“Are you here?” she calls out. Unanswered, she curiously prowls into the man’s house. She finds him collapsed on the floor.

“Thank god it’s you,” the fisherman says happily in dying gurgle, “I need more.”

The healer kneels at his side.

“Please,” he begs in a cough, “I have nothing to give you, but if you could spare another, it would mean the world to me.”

When the healer remains quiet, the fallen man sobs weakly:

“Please, just a little more. Why can’t I have just one more?”

He turns his face to the ground.

“I’ve never done anything wrong,” he wheezes, exhausted, “Why aren’t I happy like other people?”

With a sigh, the healer stands, disappointed that she’s all but lost a source of revenue.

“I’ll give you anything you want! Just say it! Tell me what you want!”

She walks back the way she came and leaves through the front door.

“What more do you want from me?!” the man screams out to his master, and before he breathes his last, he hears the healer’s response:

She slams the door shut.

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