Think of every made up voodoo ingredient and all those ridiculous recipes for love potions and farting powder. There are so many tales, some of them had to be true.
Now, think of all the crap, all the waste we generate. All those half empty bottles of shampoo and human filth, industrial waste and garden throwaways. All mixed together in the garbage cans and landfills and sewers.
Nothing is ever truly wasted. There's magic in the gutter if you're willing to get your hands dirty.
Gavin waved his arm across the horizon while Alice held her nose in disgust. Stood on top of the trash pile, the stench was unbearable, even after the sun had gone down and the the trash was cooling. Night time was the best time to come and practice. No-one guarded the rubbish dump, after all, who would want to steal trash?
"Now this," Gavin said, somehow unaffected when he snorted in a deep, wistful breath of rubbish dump air, "you listening Alice? This is the new Alchemy! Ain't it something?"
"Snure ez, Gabbin." Alice said, nose pinched and trying desperately not to breathe in through her mouth - she could even taste the garbage in the air.
"We may have lost the art aeons ago, but the magic's still there, just waiting to be found. Did I ever tell you about the seagull homunculus I found last Spring?"
"Alchemy. That's what did it, mixed stuff altogether and what do you get? Half a dead-seagull, a toy truck and a bin-liner full of old nappies, working in harmony together, alive! Alive I tell ya! A rare find, is powerful magics like that one. And you know what I did with it?"
"Yeb, Gabbin, du tob it do de cowmcil and gob a rewarb!"
"I only went and took it to the council and got me a bloody reward didn't I?"
Alice sighed and then, realising she had breathed out, breathed in automatically; much to her disgust and horror.
"Ugh! Gavin, I know, I've heard the story a million times now. I'm only glad you got rid of the damn thing. Last thing I need is a homunculus made of baby-poop and dead birds stinking up the place trying to help. You're bad enough as it is! Why am I even here? I thought we were going to see that new movie?"
"I wanted to show you something."
"Just look at this Alice, look, really take it in."
"I've taken quite enough of it in for a lifetime thank you very much." Alice muttered under her breath.
"Come on, just look over there, in the distance. No, not there, there. Yeah, see that on the hill."
Alice strained to look until she felt a tug on her arm. It was Gavin, knelt down on one knee, something wet seeping out of the rubbish pile and into his jeans.
Oh no, he bloody wasn't! Gavin pulled out a ring. He bloody was!
"Alice. We've been together for like..."
"...five months." Alice interrupted.
"...yeah, five months and just yesterday, the council granted me my petition. I'm to become a proper Filth Wizard, Alice luv. Anyway, things are gonna change for me. Big things are gonna happen and well, like, I don't want 'em to change without you. I love ya Alice. Will you, like, marry me?"
Alice looked down at his puppy dog eyes and rubbed her eyes. She felt a headache coming on. Minutes seemed like hours as they passed in silence.
"Gavin," Alice finally said. "what in the name of all that's holy made you think that proposing to me, covered in filth, on a mountain of trash in the middle of the night was a good idea?"
Gavin thought about it but before an answer popped into his head, Alice spoke again.
"Look, lets go see that movie. Maybe we've only missed the trailers."
Gavin, feeling slightly bewildered by the unexpected turn of events, slid the ring back into his pocket and followed Alice mutely down the pile, through the chain-link fence and down the street towards the cinema. They bought their tickets and sat in silence in the theatre for two hours while the film played out some meaningless action sequence in front of them and then headed home.
They were getting into bed when Gavin finally spoke.
"So, was that a yes?"
Alice sighed and turned out the light.