“An expresso with three shots of charisma for Fred!”. He comes and picks up the small cup, takes one of the ices in the buckets and swallows down the cup in one huge gulp. He places the ice in his mouth and smiles at me.

“Wish me good luck.”

“Only one pound for a shot of it.” He laughs and leaves the coffee shop, smiling at the people in the line. The keys on the door frame jingles constantly as customers come in and out.

“Hey Tina, can I get a shot of positivity in a frothy hot chocolate please?”

“Sure thing, is your uncle giving you trouble again?”, she pulls her hair behind her ears and looks at me seriously but I shrug it off. He was threatening to make me quit the film degree and study something ‘real. It’s ok though, I only have this year left, then I can get a job and move out.

“Of course, meanwhile you can have as many creativity cookies as you need, on the house”, she winks and pats my shoulder, then pulls at a loose thread, “your aunt really needs to start paying more attention too”.

“I can pay for it, I would be putting you out of business if I took them all for free.”

“I am pretty sure you are the only one that buys them, maybe I should change up the recipe”

“They are amazing, I’m pretty sure the only reason no one buys them is because I buy them first, I’m pretty sure no one even knows they exist”

“You are bad for business”, she says with a smile. The oven dings, and she goes into the back and I man the coffee maker while Stella shouts orders across. Aidan is faster at making coffee, his three hands able to carry more cups and press buttons simultaneously, but making the coffee calms me down, eve at rush hour. I usually take care of the orders in case a human comes in. Human and magic relations are better than they were ten years ago, but some people still doubt the safety of it all so a human reassures them. Even the sceptics can’t deny that Tina’s coffee and baked goods are the best in all the tri state area, magical or otherwise.

She was just twenty-three when she started the business. Her parents, who wanted her to become the representative for the well-being of magical beings like they were had cut her off and stopped speaking to her altogether. They were unsupportive and often told her that her coffee shop would not amount to anything. It’s the reason why she has a special liking for me, with my uncle and aunt, who adopted me after my parents were killed while in one of their travels. She started small but ended up impressing a man who gave her enough money to start up the huge business that she now has. There are five different counters in the shop, with five staff members who take orders and make the coffee and distribute the baked goods, and yet, the lines make it down two blocks. We start work at five, even though the coffee shop only opens at seven. We make all the orders of our regular customers and add keep warm sugar to all the coffees so that when they collect it is as fresh as when it was made.

She has been asked many times to make a few chains. She knows it is a good opportunity that will bring her even more fame and money, but she always refuses. I can’t be everywhere at once and all my baked goods have to be done by me, not machines. Sometimes I worry about her, I see her taking big gulps of rush fast gin every morning, and although I’ve never been around when she crashes, I can see the growing purple of the bags underneath her eyes. Every time I ask, she just blows me off, smiling and saying that she can handle everything.

I wouldn’t be worried if I didn’t hadn’t noticed the subtle changes that have taken place over the last few weeks. She snapped at a customer when they argued that the line was too long, and she rolled her eyes at one of the workers who spilled tea. She is overworked. No. that is not it. When I started working, she worked just as fats, just as many hours but without the added drinking. She is worried about something, she has started another project, but this one is not going well.

I enter the kitchen silently and see her muttering to herself. “Do you need any help?”, she yelps and looks back at me.

“Me? Don’t be silly, you need to be out there taking orders, young man”.

“I am on my break, but I’m not tired so I thought I would help you out and watch while you work, if you don’t mind, that it”.

“You need to go out there and work on the project that you are stuck on, right now, you re going to get nowhere if you don’t work hard at what you love everyday, look at me”, she is smiling and she gestures to herself with a flourish.

“I am trying to, just let me work in here, I’ll keep you company”, I sit in the only chair available.

“I wish you could, honey, but to work I need the outmost concentration, I can’t have you here, I’m afraid I won’t be good company at the moment”

“I’ll be good, I promise.” I show her my best smile and she relents.

“Ok, but only for your break and don’t let anyone else know that I let you, or they’ll all be flocking in here on their breaks too.”

She is such a flurry of activity that I almost miss the painstaking process of her work. However, I watch carefully and take notes in my head, making sure to memorize her every move. When she finally looks up, after finishing the last cake of the day I realize I have been sitting, mesmerized for hours, past my break and past my shift; it’s closing time.

“I hope you enjoyed that, because I won’t be letting you here again.” She smiles at me again before ushering me out of the kitchen and the shop, but not before I take some of the magical essence that I saw her dipping into while she worked.

I don’t sleep that night, tucking into every bit of caffeine and magical substance that I have horded over the last couple of months. I work hard and silently during the night and in the first few hours of the morning I add the magical essence into my finished product.

I send an email to my professor, telling him that something has come up and I can’t make it to class today. I hope you understand, all the best, Sara. I put on fresh clothes and make my way to the coffee shop. I make my way into the kitchen.

“What are you doing here? You’re not working today. I already told you, I don’t need any help, do not miss class in order to help me, go on”.

I stay quiet and hand her the minuscule cookie.

“What is this?”

“They say the smallest acts have the greatest impact so I thought the smallest cookie can make the biggest impact, I don’t know if it’s going to work, if hope really works physically, I added some of your magical essence to see if it would work”. I look at her for a few seconds to see if she is mad that I stole from her, finally she speaks.

“What is it?” her voice trembles.

“It is a cure, against heart ache”.

She leans back and holds the cookie tight. Tears stream down her face and I realize that I don’t care if the cookie actually works.

March 12, 2020 21:09

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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