MIRACLE JAM

 

Once I believed in miracles. I loved the idea that people might fly, that a dog might talk, that one morning everything might seem new. And that people might choose to be how I wished them to be. It was fun to suppose that one might get one’s heart’s desire by dint of wanting it enough. I discovered that there was a substance called “miracle jam”, which I alone could make. It was compounded of Mirabelle plums - small, lustrous fruit, pulsing with light, looking as if they had been bought at Goblin Market. They were mixed with sugar and spice, boiled and bottled. Glabrous the Mirabelles might be, transformative they certainly were. Once I could persuade people to eat the jam, all would be well. And for a while it was.

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But then my miracle jam started to fail. The effects were catastrophic. My dog, who had just begun to learn his alphabet and tonic solfar, relapsed into growls and whines. My nightly perambulations through the ether - I could swoop and glide through the air as soon as it became dark - ceased with a bump, and I became bruised and earth-bound. And my lover, who had been attentive and amusing, started to instruct me, in a ponderous manner, about how to write and cook. A sprinkling of  coarse hairs suddenly paraded down his nose, like a sprig of holly on top of a plum-pudding.

 

My heart was in my boots. Was this how it was going to be for evermore? Was this what growing older meant? Something had to be done.  Perhaps there could be an unearthly addition to the jam? I spoke aloud as I was walking in the wood: “I’d give quite a lot to make the miracle jam work again.”

 

There was a rustle in the tree above me, and a figure tumbled onto the path. It was a little man. Parts of him were green, parts of him were black, parts were purple: he had a sardonic expression. “Let us trade” he said. “What will you give for the miracle jam?” “Anything” I said, “Anything. Eternal life, salvation, all that.” “Very well” said he: “now look carefully.” He took some sour-looking herbs from his pocket, and a substance that looked like honey. He pounded them together into a pot. “Now cut your finger and let the blood run into the pot.” I did. To the mix he added fruits I had never seen before,  some spittle, and finally his own blood, which was green. “Now” he said ” recite ‘this miracle is worth the sacrifice’”. I did so. He told me that a drop of the pot’s contents would make fifty jars. And then he was gone. I had seen his footsteps in the dust of the path as he walked along just ahead of me. Now they  had disappeared half way up the track. 

 

And the miracle jam did work. I made serried ranks of it, and it flashed and hummed as the pots  sat on the shelves. The dog became an opera singer, the lover was able to combine vigour with finesse. I could fly without dizziness or fear. Everyone who received a pot found that their hair began to shine and that every day fulfilled its early promise. I knew,of course, that I had traded in a long future for the present moment. But I did not care, since the present moment was now like a bright illuminated frame which passed slowly, slowly through a world of greyness. This was the miracle: and with its sweetness on my tongue, it was hard to fuss about what might happen next.

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© 2020 by Sue Harper

feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | supernatural | fantastic and paranoia | literary female gothic | gothic narrative | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest | portsmouth university | emeritus professor sue harper | feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | outstanding achievement award | british association of film, theatre and television | professor of film history at portsmouth university | film, media and creative arts | british academy and the arts and humanities research council | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest |