bitter 365

Day 33: Spring Tonics: Bitters

Bitters today are mainly used as flavoring in cocktails, but originally they were used medicinally to help treat everything from the common cold to digestive disorders. They can be traced all the way back to Egypt where herbal preparations were allowed to ferment for a time or mixed with wine then the liquid given to patients. In the Middle Ages can the technology to distill alcohol, and with that came formulations for the more powerful bitters we know today. The original formulations of bitters contained certain herbs that were, you guessed it, bitter. Some classic ingredients include: horehound, anise, gentian, fennel, cardamom, caraway, lavender, nutmeg, licorice, wormwood, hyssop and cinnamon. These herbs would be left to sit in grain alcohol, whiskey, or brandy, for a certain amount of time, then the plant matter strained off. Why were bitter plants used? Well this goes back to medieval medicine where bitter plants were thought to be able to cure more in the body than sweet ones. The more bitter the medicine the better it worked. I’ve also read theories that patients taking medicines that taste bad are more likely to trust that the medicine will help them.

Bitters were at their height of popularity in the 19th century when the brand names that we know today, like Angostura and Peychaud, first came on the market. Bitters at this time were still being used as medicine and many different names and kinds could be found in Pharmacy storefronts across the world. Bitters later became a popular cocktail additive when Pharmacists started mixing antimalarial bitters that contained quinine with alcohol to mask the flavor. Thus Sazerac was born.

The popularity of bitters followed settlers into the Ozarks. Even the hill doctors who weren’t exposed to traveling salesmen already had the tradition of bitters in their materia medica, passed to them from their European ancestors. Vance Randolph mentions once such bitters in his “Ozark Magic and Folklore”:

“Many of the old-time druggists make up bitters by putting wild cherries, together with the inner bark of the wild-cherry tree, into whiskey. This is a fine spring tonic, and some prefer it to sassafras tea. It is good for almost any ailment, in a pinch, and even families who are notoriously dry keep a quart of bitters in case of sudden sickness. A mixture of whiskey and rock candy is popular too but is not so highly recommended as the famous wild-cherry bitters.”

In the Ozarks these bitters would be taken year round, but hillfolk made sure that at least one bitter formula was drank in the springtime to help clean out the blood. I make my own bitters at home, one recipe containing (among other things) hyssop and wormwood. The other recipe I use follows the one Vance Randolph mentioned. It’s a combination of cherries, wild cherry bark, and whiskey, and will help clear up a whole host of bodily complaints. 

Delirium (Newt)

Newt x Reader - 4,365 words

Bitter white sunlight slowly began to creep over the unwelcoming maze walls. Thomas, Newt, Y/N and Minho stood before the tyrannical doors waiting for them to open and free them from the prison they resided in. Their watches hit 6:00 am, and as if on command, the ground began to rumble and small stones fell from the tops of the walls. A dark corridor opened up before them sending forth a powerful gust of raw air. They shrouded their eyes and turned their head away as dust whipped against their faces. Once it passed, Minho thrust forwards, his light blue shirt soon disappearing into the dull colours of the maze. Y/N followed directly behind, her hair flickering like a small flame behind her. Newt gazed as she made her way to the end of the corridor, disappearing into the darkness. Her strides were long and filled with an energy and passion which he saw in no one else in this place which seemed like an eternal damnation.

Thomas adjusted his running vest and looked to Newt who store blankly down the passageway. “See you later, Newt.” He sent forward a feeble smile. Thomas knew of Newt’s time spent in the maze and the scars it left upon his mind and heart. For just another moment, he examined the boys face, devoid of all emotion. As he stepped forwards a hand gripped his arm tightly. “Just… make sure she comes back, Tommy.” The boy store blankly, then shifted his gaze to lock eyes with Thomas. He said nothing in response, but gave a simple reassuring nod. Thomas was anxious now. There should be no reason for Newt to ask him to ensure Y/N’s safety as he never had done so before. Although Y/N had been returning later everyday and drawing strangely accurate drawings of the maze from a high vantage point, he thought nothing of it. He wanted to ask why, but knew every minute he stood standing at the gates of the maze was wasted time. His arm was released, and he burst forward into the dark abyss.

The day was agonizingly hot. Newt’s time in the gardens seemed to stretch on forever. His eyes travelled to the maze doors every so often and he clutched his shovel in dismay. Everyday, he held a sense of worry for all of the runners safety but today seemed contrastive. From his heart to his lungs, he could feel a sense of uncertainty swelling inside of him. The felling which he had when in the maze. The feeling which drove him up one of those walls and right off. He trusted Y/N and the boys to protect themselves and each other, but the maze was a anomalous place where the most awful of things could happen. She was merely a ghost which haunted his mind throughout sweltering day and his apprehension of her return only grew. Time continued on unpleasantly slow as he worked in the gardens. Finally, the sound of the dinner bell radiated across the glade and met Newts ears. With it’s blissful sound, he dropped what he was doing and made his way to the maze doors. He was always the first to greet the runners when their tired bodies came though the doors seeking refuge.

“Y/N!!” Minho shouted in terror. His heart was racing, and so was the clock. They had twenty minutes before the maze doors shut, cutting them from their lifeline. To only hinder their ability to find the girl, dark clouds intensified overhead and they cold hear thunder rolling in the distance. Both boys raced around corners relentlessly, screaming her name, hoping, praying that they would find her. When they reached an opening, Thomas skidded to a stop and put a finger to his mouth. Not far away, the boys could hear their names being called. Minho’s legs shot forward like missiles heading straight for the screams. Her pleads grew louder, and finally the boys were right near her. “UP HERE!” She shrieked from above them. The two looked up in disbelief. Behind her was a cliff, and in front… was a griever. “It’s cut me off! I can’t get down!” She yelled out once again, snapping Minho out of his panicked daze.

The lanky boy finally reached the colossal walls and looked down the passage. He glanced at his watch impatiently. There was only fifteen minutes before the doors shut for the night, and not one of them was back yet. Not one. His heart began to race, and his breathing quickened.

Y/N continued to back slowly away from the griever towards the edge. Both Thomas and Minho felt useless from where they stood. “Guys….” She spoke up in horror. Her eyes met theirs, and Thomas could tell that for the first time, she couldn’t think of a way out of this. Before either boy could think of a plan, the griever shot forward and she fell onto her back, her head just landing over the edge. She looked down to the floor below and knew the fall was more than enough to make sure she wouldn’t be walking away. Thomas and Minho raced to the bottom of the cliff as fast as they possibly could, unable to say a word to one another. “Y/N, JUMP!” Minho demanded her in desperation, even though he knew it was too high. Her mind raced and body desperately tried to sit up. Without hesitation, she reached for the knife in her vest and threw it towards the grievers head. A raucous shriek came from the large mechanical monster, and in it’s distracted state, the girl swung over the edge reaching for the ivy. Luckily, she was able to catch it and held on tightly. She quickly reached for a piece slightly below so that she could make her way down. “GET READY TO RUN!” She yelled to the boys below. Minho wanted to tell her to jump, that he would catch her, but he knew it was still too high. They stood helplessly as she climbed down.

Her hand grasped a large piece of ivy that she could slide down which stretched all the way to the top of the wall. As she tugged to ensure it’s strength, the griever appeared once again from overhead. A sharp long blade glade reflected the lighting that shot across the sky as it stretched it’s arm froward, slamming down onto the stone, sending out a shrill clanking sound. “No, no, no!” The girl cried out, scrambling for a new vine. The grievers blade had severed the ivy from above, and she began to plummet downwards. Her body swung slightly to the side, away from both Thomas and Minho who could have broken her fall. In an instant, her body hit the cold hard stone below just as a ear shattering thunder came from the sky. Minho’s heart stopped as he witnessed her head snap back and strike the stone. Neither boy could tell if she was breathing, but the grievers scream from above drove them to her side. Minho threw her over his shoulder and the two bolted forwards. “THREE MINUTES!” Thomas shouted to Minho. Their pace quickened despite Minho having to carry her. They rounded the last corner to the glade when the ground began to rumble. Thomas pushed Minho in front to ensure he made it through first, and they began to run faster than ever before. With every strike of their feet, lighting shot across the sky, followed by thunder.

The rain which pelted down blurred Newt’s vision. His stomach dropped as soon as he noticed only two larger figures racing towards him, one with something resting on his shoulder. “RUN!” He screamed, attempting to overpower the thunder. As the boys tirelessly ran forwards, their lungs burnt and legs began to atrophy. The blonde boy could vaguely hear Minho shout something which he couldn’t decipher. His eyes desperately tried to see what it was Minho was carrying and as he ran closer. Newt came to the painful realization that it was the girl. Her small, lifeless body draped over Minho’s broad shoulders. His body froze, unable to move or take in oxygen. For the second time today, time seemed to completely go rigid for the boy. With one last push, Minho’s feet met the soft grass of the glade. Newt expected him to slow down once he got inside, but he continued sprinting forwards, not once looking to Newt. The blonde heard an unpleasant, soft sob come from the Asian as he bolted past, and his panic began to corrode his mind. Within seconds he was in the med-jack hut, and Newt could hear his pleading calls for help. Thomas seemed to have ran straight past Newt also, reaching the hut just moments after Minho.

Isolated. Newt felt cutoff from his friends. They had run past him not even speaking a word. Weather they had even seen him when they entered the glade or not, he was afraid. The foundations of his body seemed to crumble away as the rain torrented down upon him. The feeble, exhausted boy tried to make his way towards the med-jack hut. His mind had not yet processed what he saw and it now was slowly beginning to come together in his mind. Newt stumbled as he moved through the glade, his heart was pounding and he had trouble breathing. His sanity slipping. His heart hurt. He had never realized how much the girl meant to him until this moment. A tight, burning sensation rose in his throat as he came closer to the hut, knowing she was inside. Alive or not.

He forced his way through the crowd which now surrounded the hut and pushed open the door. Forceful, apprehensive strides carried his body to the room which she was in. Before his eyes wandered to her, they met the boys which surrounded her. Thomas store downwards blankly, water dripping off of his head. Clint and Jeff scrambled around the room in a frenzy. Minho, stood with his hands holding the back of his head. He let out a sharp cry, turning and kicking the wall and falling against it. His body looked broken and defenceless resting against the wall in a defeated position. Finally, his eyes wandered to Y/N. She lie lifelessly, like a corpse. Her body was white and cold, painted with bruises and cuts. “W-what happened?” Newt barked, catching Thomas’s attention. “Get him out of here!” Jeff shouted at Thomas and Minho. Resentfully, the two obeyed his orders. They made their way to Newt who still stood helplessly in front of Y/N, grabbing him by the arms and pulling him out of the room.

He fought his friends with every bit of energy he had, but it was useless. In a separate room of the hut, they sat Newt down on a bed. “YOU SAID SHE’D BE SAFE!” Newt screamed at Thomas. The words hit Thomas with a sharp pain, and was taken aback by Newt’s sudden rage. “I promised I’d bring her back! I can’t guarantee her safety in the maze, Newt!” The boy forced back, turning away from his friend in anguish. “What happened, Minho?!” Newt asked in his delirium. “There was a griever, she was on one of the walls, she had to climb down and then she fell. It cut the ivy from above.” The room fell silent and memories flooded Newt’s mind, burning it like acid. “I-I’m sorry, I tried to catch her - I… I should’ve run up there or something… I-“ Minho scrambled for words, searching for a way to justify his inability to protect her. “N-No. It’s ok. You brought her back. That’s all that matters.” Newt tried to collect himself and reassure his friend who was in extreme discomfort, tears falling from his eyes.

Thunder made the glade tremble and medjack hut quaver. What seemed like hours passed for Newt, sitting anxiously awaiting permission to see her. Minho and Thomas had already left his side to go eat dinner. He shut his eyes tightly, trying to steady his heavy breathing and hysteric mind. “Hey, Newt?” A quite voice sounded from the dimly lit doorway. The boys head shot up in surprise, and the figure slowly made their way to him. It was Jeff. “Y/N’s just woken up… We’re wondering if you can go get her some dry clothes for us?” He asked, crouching down to Newt’s eye level. “Y-Yeah.” His mind was ready to burst with all of the questions he had, but he forced himself off of the bed and headed for the doorway. He ran as quickly as possible across the glade to the homestead and began to rummage through the girls box of clothing. Luckily, he found a soft sweatshirt and pants. Seeing as how cold it was tonight, he figured it would be best to bring the warmest clothes possible. Without stopping to see any of the other boys, he quickly made his way across the glade. He kept the girls clothes warm by holding them underneath his shirt, hidden from the rain. Jeff met him at the door, not allowing him inside. “Thanks, Newt.” He took the clothes from the boy and headed back inside. Once again alone, Newt made his way into the other room and waited patiently.

The rain continued to fall relentlessly on the roof of the hut. His mind was atrophied from the panic of the day, full of emotion yet devoid of all ability to feel. No matter how hard he tried, the memories of the maze haunted him and he couldn’t do anything to block them out. Not even the thought of the girl he cared for so much could make them subside. Like a rock, his mind was worn so greatly it was near to the point of complete erosion. And that was when another voice called to him. “Newt… You can come see her.” The dark wall which clouded his mind crumbled away. Shakily, he stood to his feet and stepped forward in disbelief. His stomach churned and chills ran down his spine. He attempted to gather his conscience as he entered the second room. His eyes fell upon her immediately. Bruises and scratches covered her arms and legs, along with a large red wound on her head. His lip quivered when his mind finally came to understand that she was indeed safe. Without thought, he jolted forwards, crashing into her body. His arms wrapped completely around her body and he felt that if he failed to hold on tightly, she might just slip away. “I missed you so shuckin’ much.” His words were muffled into her hair. Her clothes were soft and warm to his touch, and he didn’t ever want to let go.

“I wasn’t even really gone.” She said back with a weak voice. Newt let out a deep sigh, even a slight giggle. “It felt like days.” He admitted. A persons presence had never had such an effect on him like hers did. Almost like a warmth that made his stomach flutter, but never in an unpleasant way. He always stood as close as he could to her just to feel that slight comfort which radiated from her body. “Maybe you just need some sleep.” She tried to smile, sliding out from under his grasp, wincing from the pain. For the first time, he felt the coldness swell back into his body once his contact with her was broken. “You want to go back to the homestead? Everyone has to sleep in there tonight because of the rain… and you can’t stay in here.” Jeff broke the silence. Newt examined the girl as she agreed. The four made their way to the door. Newt was taken back by her ability to walk by herself considering what had happened. Luckily, the rain has ceased just for a few minutes, long enough for the group to make it across the glade dry.

The moment they stepped into the homestead, the rain began to torrent down once again, and thunder shattering their ears. Minho and Thomas pushed their way through the growing crowd around Y/N. The stocky Asian wrapped his arms around her, followed by Thomas, and nearly every other boy in the building. “I’m so sorry, Y/N.” Minho muttered. The girl looked up to meet his guilt filled eyes. “Minho, it’s ok. You got me back here. That’s all that matters.” Her smile grew wide and she stepped away from the large group. Newt realized that everyone in this glade cared for her immensely, not just him. A loud voice spoke up, gaining everyone’s attention. “Alright everyone! We’re going to hand out blankets as you all have to sleep in here tonight. I will need some of the keepers to share their rooms with a few boys tonight as it’s pretty crammed in here. Any volunteers?” He gazed around the room. Most of the boys wanted to stay with their friends in the kitchen area, but after a while a few offered  to move and cleared the room. “Y/N can stay with me!” Newt piped up. Nearly every boy in the room looked towards him in shock. Newt was one to never offer up his room to another, for some unknown reason. Alby simply gave a nod and continued to sort boys into rooms.

Gladers said their goodbyes to Y/N and headed off to their designated sleeping areas. Minho walked towards Newt with a blanket and shoved it against his chest. The boy gave him a wink and started to giggle. “I knew it.” His mouth rose with a smirk and turned away. “Let’s go Thomas. I’m gonna pass out.” He put his hand on his friends shoulder and directed him up the stairs. “Ready to go to sleep?” The lanky boy asked with a soft, sympathetic smile. “You have no idea.” A yawn left her mouth and her eyes watered. The pair quietly made their way up the stairs, Newt often looking back to ensure she wasn’t in pain. He opened the door to the room noiselessly, his eyes following hers all the way into the room. “You can have the bed.” He said, handing her the blanket Minho had given him. She accepted it thankfully. “No, it’s ok. The floor is fine with me!” She insisted, sitting her body on the cold wooden floor. “Are you kidding? No way. I promised Clint you’d be sleeping in the bed. You’re hurt, Y/N.” The boy teasingly grabbed the blanket from her, waving it in the air. “Get!” He demanded with a grin rising as he tossed the blanket on the bed and waved her towards it. The girl huffed and slowly stood up. “Alright, alright. But you should still sleep at the other end, it’s cold.”

Newt’s heart skipped a beat. “N-no. I’m fine on the floor.” He stuttered. A hand reached for the back of his neck and scratched it. “Newt, it’s fine. There’s lots of room.” She insisted, sending him a stern glare. Both of them knew how cold it was going to be tonight. He forced an awkward laugh out and strode towards the bed. “Alright, fine.” He smiled, tossing his pillow on the other end of the bed. Once he was comfortable, another streak of lightning lit up the room and thunder shook the homestead. “Goodnight. Hope you can sleep through this bloody ruckus.” He sighed. The girl store into the dark abyss above her, she knew sleep would not come tonight. “Yeah, me too.” She mumbled, rolling to her side. Newt’s heart ached. She was right there in front of him, yet so far. He knew she was in pain, but felt helpless as if some barrier stood between them. Neither of the kids slept. Time slowly moved forward in the frigid room. “H-hey Newt?” A voice questioned softly. “Yeah?” His heart seemed to skip once again, and he shot up, searching the blankets for her face. “You used to be a runner, right?” She didn’t even move as she spoke. To Newt, it seemed as if a voice was speaking in his head. “Uh- yeah. Why?” His curiosity rose. Although his times in the maze tormented him, he figured a conversation may give him some closure. A silence fell between the two before the girl spoke again, an eery stillness which made Newt’s skin crawl. “D-did you ever just start hoping that one day you wouldn’t make it back before the doors closed?” The boys heart dropped into a dark abyss when his mind processed the words. Never once did he imagine the untroubled girl to say such a thing.

His concern took control of his conscience and he climbed under the covers at her side of the bed. “Y/N… Don’t say something like that.” His voice radiated the agony which he had held within him for so many years. He pulled the covers back from over her head, and he could feel her roll over to face him. “Be honest. I can’t be the only one. I keep thinking maybe it’ve been better if I just fell right from the top of that wall.” She retorted painfully. Newt’s heart stopped completely this time and his mind went blank. “I-I… Yes. I climbed half way up one of those bloody walls and jumped right off myself once.” He forced himself to say. The boy searched for her dark eyes, only finding them when lightning lit up the room. “I… I’m sorry Newt, I never knew.” The girl cowered at her foolishness. “No, it’s alright.” His faith began to shake. With a sudden spark within him, he reached for the girl, pulling her body close to his, resting her head on his chest. “I know it all feels broken and hopeless. But you can’t give up now. I know you love being a runner, Y/N. Don’t let that go now.” He said. The boy stroked her hair with shaky hands, a tears beginning to torrent from his eyes. “There’s only one reason I’m glad I survived that fall. Because exactly one month after I jumped, you showed up. I would have missed so bloody much if I hadn’t lived. I never would have known you, Y/N.” Newt took in a sharp, shaky breath. He could feel the girls body quiver, trying to hold onto her pride.

“I never realized how much you meant.” She said sadly. Regret swelled in her heart. After all this time in the maze, she didn’t know that Newt shared her pain. The notion broke Newt’s attention, his mind finally beginning to clear. “They must have put us in here together for a reason. Now we know why.” He tried to reassure her. “We’ll see it through, love.” Yet again, he ran his fingers through her disheveled hair, trying to calm the silent war within her mind. “I-It just hurts so much.” A muffled whimper came from her, the first Newt had ever heard. “I know…” Finally, the familiar warmth of her presence began to flow through his veins. It warmed his extremities like a slow burning fire, and the stress on his heart began to give way. All of his fears seemed to dissipate as he held her. She was what held him together. He refused to let go of the warm embrace which he held her in. The boy had never seen the girl so vulnerable. Never once did she shed a tear, never once did she curl her body this tightly in an attempt to hide from the world. Never once had she opened up to anyone, not even him. And this seemed as close as she would ever get to it.

Newt was so lost in the feeling of holding the girl in his arms that he failed to notice her breathing steady. It was light and soft, and he knew that she had drifted off to sleep. It was strange to him, the girl had never allowed one of the boys to have such close contact in this manner. Sure, she received piggy backs and friendly hugs, but never once did she allow for this closeness, this vulnerability. He was pleased to know that she felt comfortable enough with him to do such a thing. Not long after, Newt’s consciousness began to slip. The emotion of the day had finally caught up with him and his mind was exhausted. The rain seemed to act as some sort of sedative.

Something arose within Newt, tugging at his heart and causing his throat to tighten. He tried to clear it, only setting free a high pitched sob. The boys eyes burnt, and tears began to escape his eyes. Her body still rest in his arms and she was curled tightly, her knees to her chest. Childlike is what she looked like to Newt, defenceless, shaking from the cold. He couldn’t stop his own breathing from hitching and squeaking in pain. The girls eyes fluttered open as she lifted her head slightly. “Newt?” The small voice swelled in his mind. “Y-yeah?” He stuttered and store intently at the girl whose body was only illuminated when lightning streaked across the sky. “What’s wrong?” She asked as she shivered. Newt froze, unable to locate the source of his sudden fear. “I-I…” He paused, tears leaving his eyes. “I thought I bloody lost you.” He muttered, the tenseness in his face diminishing.

“I thought I lost you.” He said again with a weary voice, his body quaking and he pushed his face into her hair. He’d finally seemed to let loose the last of the emotions he was suffocating from. Y/N remained curled up against his body and waited until he fell asleep. She’d always wondered how he’d really hurt his leg. It was the first question she asked him when she arrived in the glade and the only question he refused to answer honestly. But now she knew.

ahahahah sorry if that was horrible. (ESPECIALLY MY GRAMMAR RIP) This was my first piece of writing so.. yeep. I had no idea how to end it so I just kinda… killed it. xD 

There are days when bitterness swallows me whole –
Each bit of light devoured by monsters
Buried so deeply within,
That I don’t even hear them coming.

Some days I am so infuriated, I feel I may explode.

Perhaps this is how a universe begins –
Years of silence crafts pressure so intense
That it can no longer be contained.

If you look closely,
I’m sure you’ll find every bit of fury ever felt
Scattered throughout the galaxies.
—  2017: #223/365

i’m literally going to stop at indigo on my way home and buy rupi kaur’s book because i’m sick of seeing her bashed 24/7/365 by bitter bloggers who can’t stand that a young sikh woman has the audacity to make a living by writing mediocre poetry