Copyright is held by the author.
THIS IS what Roxy had been waiting for. The patent was up for auction at the Pristine Palace, and she was gonna get it. No matter what. That skincare line that she and Mark had planned to develop was more than magical. It was powerful. Apparently, the mud they had dug up at the ancient cavern that night that they got lost camping had mystical properties. The Shaman they met in town the next day confirmed it.
Twenty years she had waited for this. They had invented it together in 2020, and no one wanted to invest in their company, Skin Matters, because, they said, there was no “science” behind it.
“You did nothing to develop it” they said. “You just dug it out of the ground.”
It was true, they hadn’t manufactured it. They had just found it. The clay, anyway. But Roxy had made a special compound using it and aloe Vera. It was stable, it was silky smooth, and it didn’t degrade. Not only did it feel great on Roxy’s skin, it cleared up her eczema, her acne marks faded in to even skin tone, and it made the laugh lines around her eyes completely disappear. She swore it made her lips plumper and redder, but Mark said she was nuts. Roxy wanted to call it “Miracle Magic Mud Serum”; but Mark said that they couldn’t say “miracle” or “magical” because people wouldn’t take it seriously.
“But that’s what it IS,” Roxy insisted. “It IS a miracle, so how can it not be magical?” Every company uses catch phrases to sell stuff. “It’s called advertising!” And all it would take is a few people to give it a try . . . They needed an infomercial, she told him, and she would demonstrate how magical it really was.
“Elizabeth Grant is on the shopping channel ALL the time!” Roxy claimed. “She has stuff made out of caviar! In fancy, expensive-looking bottles! Who knows if the stuff really works? But she sells TONS of it!”
“And how does that help you?” Mark had asked, dismissively.
“Ours WILL REALLY work! It DOES work!” Roxy couldn’t understand why he wasn’t as excited as she was.
Two days later when he registered the patent for it, under only his name, she knew. “It’s better this way” he told her. “Because now when you tell people it works, in your commercial, they’ll believe you. They won’t think that you are saying it because its yours.”
He was so full of it. She wasn’t that stupid. They argued for a week. In fact; they didn’t speak at all unless they were arguing. About the patent. In only his name. Roxy went to see a lawyer, who told her, quite frankly, that as much as he would love to take her money; because he had his eye on a nice boat; it came down to Mark’s word against hers. And it didn’t help that no one wanted to mine mystical clay in a cavern that no one had been able to locate since.
“But I have all of my notes!” She insisted — she was the one who studied chemistry; she was the one who rented the lab space to mix their home-grown aloe with the clay. In the end, she moved out of their apartment. And never spoke with Mark again.
Roxy waited. And waited. Twenty years she had been waiting. Mark’s patent was about to expire, and his wife of 18 years wanted to sell it. She could see the dollar signs too, but hadn’t been able to get anyone to manufacture it. Or buy it. Not even Elizabeth Grant. So, to the Auction House it went.
Roxy was surprised to see Anne — Mark’s wife — at the Pristine Palace. More surprised still, when Anne approached her with a welcoming smile.
“I’m so glad you’re here, Roxanne.”
Roxy was dumfounded, and at a loss for words. Anne continued. “You do know who I am, right? Look. I have to show you something.”
She reached into her purse and pulled out a small vial of — clay? Her clay? Seriously?
“Is that it?” Roxy was genuinely surprised. Had they found the cavern?
“Yes”, Anne replied. “Look at this.” Anne removed a band aid that she had on the ring finger of her left hand. It was cut badly, right through the finger nail.
“That looks awful, why haven’t y—”
“First Item on the block today, a lovely crystal vase . . .” The Auction had begun.
“I know, I know, I cut it this morning. We’d better sit. It actually hurts like a son-ova-gun! But watch.” The Auctioneer continued in the background as Anne carefully opened the vial. With the pinky of her right hand, Anne took a pea-sized dab of the clay then winced as she smeared it onto her blood-crusted finger.
Roxy thought she might throw-up. She turned away, and Anne barked “Watch!” so she turned around.
Roxy was amazed, and speechless, yet again. In a matter of seconds, her finger had pretty much healed, save for a slight pink line that was fading as she stared at it.
“I don’t understand. How is that poss—”
“Magical clay, isn’t it? Isn’t that what you’d called it? I think we can work together, Roxanne. With the right connections.
“What’s in it?”
“Nothing. We added nothing. You diluted it with the aloe. Mark said he had a cut on his hand from chopping wood that night you two found it. He said it had healed as soon as he touched the earth in that cavern.”
She was right. Mark had known all along it was magical.
“But what about the mining rights? No one wants to touch that land.”
“They’re mine. I bought it.”
Roxy didn’t understand.
“I left him. Just like you did, honey. He wanted to take it all. But the Skin Matters Mine land is in my name. I took it and left. I didn’t know how else to find you. I figured you’d show up at the auction today.”
Roxy didn’t know what to say. Should she accept? But then Anne insisted that the clay was left by aliens . . .