Casual black girl alchemy realness…

Dia Arden
4 min readJan 14, 2021

Note: this is just a worldbuilding, freewriting exercise.

It’s a random Sunday night and you’re sitting in a tiny kitchen, shoveling a plate of food into your face. This is Mimi’s kitchen and it’s definitely a working witch’s space. Potted plants hang in coffee cans in the window above the sink. An open mason jar labeled “gold dust” sits on the counter next to the adobo spice powder she swears by when she cooks. She’s barefoot, in a t-shirt and basketball shorts (both stolen from her husband’s closet), thick platinum blond box braids trailing carelessly down her back. There’s a large pot of bubbling bright purple liquid that occasionally boils over when the flames are set too high.

A couple drops of said liquid bubble up to land in the candied yams she served you from a skillet on the next burner and when you mention this, Mimi rolls her eyes and laughs at you a little bit because “you play too much”. She tells you not to worry. In fact, you’ve eaten her cooking before and haven’t grown a third eye so “just eat the damn food.” Mimi takes a couple of bites from her own plate while still stirring the potion with one hand and does a little dance in place because her food really is so good she could slap her mama- if that act wouldn’t get her killed. In a half joking, half serious tone, Mimi informs you that, indeed, Ms. Etta’s pimp hand is alive and getting stronger everyday so she won’t really act that out.

Moments later, the potion on the burner settles into a light lavender color with tiny flecks of gold spattered throughout. It’s thick like syrup and when you ask her exactly what it is, Mimi dazzles you with her incredibly bright smile and says you’ll see. Have patience.

Just then, a baby cries in the next room and she runs to go get him. She returns with him on her hip. The baby- Demarcus- is about ten months old and dressed in a T-Rex dinosaur onesie. He rubs at his eyes as they adjust to the light and hiccups between sobs as Mimi bounces him and softly tells him to say hi to you. In typical tired baby fashion, the boy declines, burying his head in his mama’s neck. Mimi takes a bottle from the fridge behind you and when she feeds him, he settles down.

She takes a seat at the table opposite you; adjusting her braids to spill over her right shoulder as the little boy settles on her left side. The kitchen lights go out as she adjusts the dimmer switch on the wall and, whispering, she tells you to pay attention to the pot on the stove. Her little boy is already staring, eyes fixed on the glowing liquid- now the only source of light in the room.

There’s a thick purple storm cloud forming above the pot. It’s floating in the air and expanding as steam rolls off of the potion and gathers above it. Pink and purple lights dance in the heavy cloud like lightning bolts. There is legit rain pouring down back into the pot. And of all the magical things you’ve seen, of which there have been many, this casual display is the most mesmerizing. Now, Mimi’s whispering to Demarcus, telling him to breathe in and out… and in and out again. His eyelids grow visibly heavier until they shut completely.

Sleep wraps its arms around you too; like the gravity holding you to your seat is a magnet pulling your body gently to the center of the earth where you know it’s warm and safe and you wonder if it’s a spell.

You may have said this out loud because Mimi answers (well, kinda), by shrugging her shoulders. She cradles the sleeping boy in her arms and carries him away. A second later, she’s back and the track lights are back up in the kitchen. The clouds above the potion swirl, forming a cotton candy cyclone that threatens to run through the whole kitchen until Mimi grabs a lid and slams it down over the pot. Problem solved.

It’s time for you to leave now. Good food always makes you tired anyway and Mimi’s is the best. You peak out the kitchen window and it’s raining outside too. Weird shit, but at least you brought an umbrella this time. Mimi sees you out, guiding you down the hall to the front of the house.

But, as you take a step out the front door, you ask her why she still hasn’t setup shop like the other city alchemists. The neighborhood hasn’t had a real alchemist since ’04 and if she can do this from her kitchen, surely she can handle a real shop. You’ve asked her this before and she never had a real answer but that hasn’t stopped you from trying again.

Mimi explains that an alchemist can’t give themselves the title until they’ve made real gold from a base metal. So, by her accounting not one of the people calling themselves “alchemists” are real.

And like that, you are dismissed, but…

…has she managed to make gold? Again, your big mouth called the question before you could apply a filter to which Mimi replied silently, by pointing to the large gold hoops in her ears and the collection of thin gold bangles on her right wrist. Your eyes widen. Awareness detonates like tiny bombs across your brain. Mimi puts a finger to her lips, inviting you to keep her secret. Then, she bursts into an hysterical cackle. She is definitely laughing at you as she closes the door behind her, leaving you alone in the rain, with the truth, in the dark.

The only real alchemist in Solar City is operating from her kitchen, in the most forgettable place in the world. And with that thought, you laugh, too.



Dia Arden

Amateur black feminist. Broke “essential” worker.