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Ten Years In

Thea Boodhoo is a writer based in San Francisco, California (Ohlone land). Her previous work has appeared in Bards & Sages Quarterly, Metaphorosis, TERSE Journal, and others. She was recently accepted to the Clarion UCSD writers workshop and is querying a science fiction novel. When she's not writing, Thea enjoys hiking and nature photography, and can be found on Instagram and Twitter as @tharkibo.

My Dearest Lahar,
I'm afraid I must confess, I've done something irreversible. Before you make assumptions, let me just explain.
There was a time, which barely seems like yesterday, when I could hardly take my eyes off you. You barely knew that I was there, but from behind the counter of the bakery on Bay Street, I always knew the moment you walked in, and the moment that you left. I started making morning buns, the ones with hazelnuts you always get, with only you in mind. And when, from time to time you smiled at me, I would swoon so hard the other bakers teased me.
I never did get up the guts to ask you out. And when the factory opened up across the way and all our rolls began to taste like ash no matter what we did, I knew the time in which our paths could cross was drawing to a close.
And so, one day, before my shift, I stopped at Paloma's Potions. You know the little shop on Oak Street? The one right by the restaurant we argued in last night?
I know what you must be thinking now, but please hear me out. It isn't... exactly... what you think.
Now as you know, a baker's tips aren't quite enough for top shelf potions. But Paloma had a vial in her wares that was a very decent price.
I baked it into your morning bun, in the syrup between the swirls, where we put the hazelnuts. You took it with you on your way to work, and that whole entire day I wondered if it worked.
Then when evening came, and I was closing up the shop, you met me at the door. I was startled and delighted when you leaned in for a kiss. You walked with me on my way home, and we talked about our days. You'd had an argument with a guy at work who didn't understand your process, and I... well I never got a word in, but I was so thrilled to have you talking to me that I couldn't bring myself to interrupt.
When I stopped at Manzanita Street, and said, "Well, this is me," you laughed bitterly and said, "Am I boring you that much?"
"No, it's just--"
"Then come on," you said, "you're coming home."
I wasn't quite sure that I liked your tone, but I chalked it up to your bad day and skipped along, delighted that the potion worked and I might finally get you into bed.
When we got back to your place, it... let's say it wasn't quite what I expected. It was a single room, no bed to speak of, and your cat had claimed a laundry pile for herself that you seemed to have surrendered. There were several empty bottles on the floor and a single table with a book, face down.
At the door, you turned to me, and as my heart melted into moths and my loins began to warm, you said, "It's your turn to take out the trash." And then you grabbed the book and flopped down on a futon on the floor.
I was about to take my shoes off, and join you, when you said, "I don't feel like making dinner, would you mind?"
At that point it dawned on me, what the potion truly did. Paloma called this blend "Ten Years In" and I had thought that sounded great. But in that moment, as I rummaged through the books, and tools, and socks that filled your kitchen cupboards, and wondered how you lived on only noodles, morning buns and cat food, it dawned on me that maybe, I'd missed out on some important part.
I was so used to thinking that I loved you, I didn't realize I had yet to fall in love. And here you were, laying on the floor between a dusty lantern and a dirty plate, feeling for me how you would have felt if we'd been in love ten years.
So, that was Tuesday. Since then, we've gotten into thirteen arguments about the way things in your apartment smell, how I sound too condescending, why we don't yet have a real bed, and who I'm seeing on my lunch breaks. And of course there was the argument last night, in which I said I wasn't certain if I loved you, and you cried and ran away, and I haven't seen you since.
Your cat is sitting on the table as I write this, well-fed on a pork bun I brought home for her (there's one for you on the counter), washing her face with her fuzzy little yellow paws. I rather like her. And this apartment, to be honest, isn't hopeless. We'd both save money if I really lived here. But we'd really have to get a bed, and if the bakery closes, I'm not sure how... but anyway, all that can be discussed another time.
To be honest, Lahar, I still find you quite attractive, and the times that we've made love have been... amazing. Better than anything I've ever had with someone new. And you do make me laugh, when you're not being an ass. And the other night, when I asked about the book you're reading, and you read a chapter to me, softly, while I snuggled on your shoulder, it was just the kind of thing I've always hoped for.
I still barely know you. But I'm thinking, with a few tweaks here and there--and I mean concrete plans and compromises, not more potions--this might work.
If you get back before I do, I'll be at Paloma's Potions, applying for a job.
With love, perhaps,
P.S. It's your turn to take out the trash.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

Author Comments

I had an idea a while back about a love potion that gave the feeling of the tenth year of a relationship. It was likely inspired by my own tenth anniversary, but I didn't flesh it out for another year. It's a fairly silly idea, so I wanted to have fun with it, but I also think it's an interesting way to explore how relationships and our definitions of love change over the long term.

- Thea Boodhoo
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