I scribble out my notes in anger for the millionth time. 

“Why?” I scream and put my head in my hands. “Why can’t I figure this out? Such a simple emotion evades me.” 

I hear a shriek and look up at the rat that I dosed with my concoction. It screams and foams from its little mouth. I put my finger up to the cage and feel it bite me. At least I feel something. 

“You should really put it out of its misery.” I hear a woman say. 

“Me or the rat?” I respond and turn to look at her. It’s my colleague Dr. Curry, she has been a close friend for years. 

She giggles at my melancholy joke and says, “When are you going to give up on that love potion? You know it’s not real, it’s something from out of a fairy tale. You have some much potential you could do anything you set your mind to.” 

“You wouldn’t understand,” I whisper back and grab the rat. It struggles to get free of my grip, it’s no use. I grab the head with my other hand and snap its neck. 

If people knew what this means to me they wouldn’t be so cruel. 

“If I can’t talk you out of it, I’ll help you finish it. Here,” she hands me a notebook. “It’s not finished, but it’s a different take on what you have been working with. You need some pretty strange ingredients. They say there is a flower that can be used to imitate love in the brain.”

“I know about the flower! It doesn’t work,” I say. 

“That’s because you are using it wrong,” she scoffs and walks to my workstation. “You need to mix it with this after extracting the serum.” She grabs a few items and mixes them together. 

My brain instantly starts working, following her every move and direction. “You need to add lavender!” I blurt out and take the concoction from her. I add the ingredient and purple smoke comes off the top. I pour it on the closest rat I can. The rat is normal at first, walking around the cage, then it starts to stumble. It vomits green bile profusely and starts to swell. It gets bigger and bigger until its skin cannot take the capacity and busts. Rat sludge seeps out from the ripped skin and leaks everywhere.

“Well, at least we tried,” she says sadly. “I’ve got to go to a meeting. I’ll see you later, Greg.” She walks out of the room and closes the door behind her.

Her saying my name makes my insides warm. If I could harness this feeling then I could finish this! I throw the ingredients off the table and watch them crash to the floor. I put my face back in my hands and cry. My whole existence depends on this potion. I stand up and look down at the mess on the floor. My tears fall into the puddle of ingredients and turn it into a beautiful color. I bend down and take a sample with a pipette. 

“I have nothing else. It’s now or never,” I say and squirt the pipette into my mouth. I swallow the horrible tasting mess, it burns all the way down. I fall onto my hands. The pain in my stomach is debilitating and I think I’m dying. I scream as loud as I can in pain and anguish. As the room goes in and out of focus, I see someone come to me. Their cold fingers touch my skin, creating a temporary relief. 

“Greg!” I hear Dr. Curry scream. All the noises in the room start to run together. I am dying. 

“I just wanted to love myself again,” I can barely make the words come out of my mouth, but as they do, blood pours out with them. The room starts to fade to black and I know it’s the end.