Parchment of Love
by Eric J. Krause
It was here. It was finally here. After four long weeks (the advertisement said it could've taken six), he had it. He stood staring at the postal envelope, now nervous that it was actually in his hands.
What if it didn't work? What if he used it wrong? He only had one chance, and he wasn't sure how clear the instructions were.
"Only one way to find out," Rich said as he ripped the envelope open.
A single sheet of paper greeted him. A very old sheet. But not just paper. Parchment. Its silky feel caressed his fingers and thumb.
He poured over the sheet, anxious to see if his thousand dollars was well spent. If it won Giselle away from Johnny, it certainly would be.
"Read this poem in the presence of your would-be beloved. Within seconds of the final syllable, you will have your true love. But be wary. The object of your desire will want to be by your side only. Be positive your love is a lifetime commitment."
Underneath came the poem. Rich didn't read it in case it diluted the power. He'd only recite it to Giselle. Nothing would stop him from saving her from the biggest mistake of her life. If he couldn't have her, fine, but he wouldn't let her waste her time with that scumbag Johnny. A thousand dollars for a powerful love charm was worth every penny to get that guy away from her. Plus, she'd finally see him as more than just a friend. So what if it wasn't genuine? She was his everything.
Earlier in the week, Johnny had bragged that he was taking her to the latest gross-out horror flick down at the Super 36 Cinema. Rage had bubbled almost to the surface when Rich heard that, and it still simmered. Giselle loved rom-coms, not scary stuff. Johnny didn't know her at all. Not like he did.
But fine. Two could play at this. He'd ruin Johnny's date; he'd ruin it good. He'd buy a ticket to each showing (he didn't know when they'd get there, and he didn't want to chance getting tossed), and when they arrived, he'd read her the poem. Johnny would be helpless to stop it.
He sat in the lobby all day, mulling over his plan. It'd work. It had to. She'd be his right after the poem, and there was no way Johnny'd make too much of a scene in a crowded theater lobby.
When they walked in, Rich gasped. Giselle, his beautiful Giselle, wore a tight red dress that rose two-thirds of the way up her thighs and practically exposed her perfect breasts. Sure, she looked good, no great, but it also made her look like a common street tramp. How could she do this? Especially for Johnny?
He stomped over to them, the parchment in hand. Giselle smiled as he approached, but Johnny scowled. To his dismay, her arm remained wrapped around Johnny's waist.
"Hi, Richard," she said. "What are you doing here?"
"Yeah, Dick. Come to see the new kiddie flick?"
Giselle laughed at that, and it was all Rich could do to keep himself from lashing out at Johnny. Verbally, of course. Instead, he looked Giselle dead in the eyes and said, "No. I have something to read you."
When he lifted the parchment, Johnny's smile grew bigger, almost breaking his concentration. Yeah, yuck it up, you big ape. You'll be sorry in a minute.
He read the poem, proud of himself for not stumbling over any of the words. He usually had to rehearse poetry to get it sounding smooth, but this came out so beautifully that he might have written it himself.
When he finished, he looked up and smirked at Johnny, whose smile hadn't faltered. He chanced a glance at Giselle, hopeful she'd chose to express her new love by leaping into his arms. Wouldn't that put Johnny in his place? Instead, she nodded and said, "That's lovely, Richard. Almost as nice as the one Johnny read me. Who did you write it for?"
He stared back at her, his heart plummeting into his stomach. He tried to speak, to say anything, but words wouldn't come. Maybe the spell took a minute, but he had a sinking suspicion it hadn't worked.
"Yeah, Dick, who's it for?" The taunting laughter showed behind Johnny's eyes. "Tell you what, I'll give you a little poetic advice. Excuse us, sweet cheeks." He dragged Rich away, and in a low voice, said, "Here's your advice, twerp. Make sure you always purchase the upgrade. Lesser spells'll never override it." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of parchment of his own. "Too bad you only get one shot."
Rich could only watch as Johnny led Giselle to the theater. Before they went inside, Johnny looked back, winked, and spun her around for a deep, disgusting tongue kiss. Right out in public.
Rich was going to be sick.