Author’s note- this was inspired from Hololive’s newest English members. Their interactions are adorable and I used the same concept of phoenix and dark angel/grim reaper apprentice. Please go check them out ^-^ Also, this is one of my longest stories ever. I’m honestly kind of proud that I hit the 1,500 mark~
Some information you’d need- this story is set in a fictional world where everyone has spirit animals. The spirit animal directly affect you, like, if yours was a phoenix, you’d have a much longer life than others, maybe even be immortal.
The café smelt amazing, like it always did when it opened its new autumn menu. The Phoenixes go all out every single year, and it’s always the highlight of September and October for this sleepy little town. They even named the café after it! Red Leaf Café, where everyone is welcomed with open arms and wide smiles.
Of course, that’s why I go to Red Leaf. For the pumpkin spice latte that everyone would kill for. The cinnamon creamed espresso and ice cream combo that they give out for 40% every second weekend of September. I haven’t been going there for all my life for the girl behind the counter.
I was just preparing you, not being defensive. Everyone awws and oohs but NO! Hazel and I aren’t even friends!
For goodness’ sake, we’re polar opposites!
(My wings shift slightly in annoyance. Not because I was excited to see her.)
Hazel has bright warm chocolate brown eyes and light caramel hair and tan skin. I have dark eyes and dark hair and lighter skin. Hazel is peppy and always smiles. I rarely smile.
(It’s at this point of my rant that most people go ‘Well, doesn’t Hazel make you smile?’. Shut up. She does, but that isn’t the point.)
Bigger than anything else, her spirit animal is a phoenix. I’M A LITERAL APPRENTICE TO THE GRIM REAPER.
Hazel spent her childhood having fun like a normal child, while I learned how to hook souls.
Phoenixes are about living forever, and here I am, a literal epitome of death. Why do I find this annoying?
“Loralieee! My love, are you here for a pumpkin spice latte?”
For some reason, Hazel thinks that I’m her soulmate.
Me. Loralie No-Last-Name.
‘Loralie’ literally means ‘dark angel’ or something like that. (I’m probably wrong though.)
“Pumpkin spice latte-”
“Extra cream, medium sugar and spice, black sprinkles and caramel biscuits as well?”
It was sometimes embarrassing how well she knew me.
Well, couldn’t blame her. We’ve been friends since kindergarten. Hazel’s wings flutter in the adorable way they do when she’s excited. My dark wings remain folded behind my back.
“I’ll have that to go, please. Also, how do you have it memorized? My order, I mean.”
I fumble my words. I’m not used to saying that much in a sentence. Rather sad, but true. Most people avoid me, so I have no reason to say anything more than I have to.
Hazel winks at me.
“Of course I have to know my future wife’s favorite latte! I’ll be making it for her every day, I imagine.”
I stop listening after ‘future wife’. I hope no one can see my cheeks, and my eyes feel like they have shut down, even though they are open. My face feels really, really hot.
“For the last time, Hazel, we’re not going to get married!”
As if responding to my mood, clouds start gathering. It was probably going to rain in a few hours. Hazel didn’t seem to mind, and said,” Your order is coming up, love!”
Sigh. Nothing I could do about that.
I was right about it going to rain, but I didn’t realize people would go on with their lives. In the rain. Whenever it rained, I flew home as fast as I could and immediately cuddle with a book and blanket. I hate getting my wings wet. They take forever to dry.
Back to the point. I’m not a big worrier about the population- they can all go extinct for what I care- but I do care about Hazel. Yes, she’s annoying, and she thinks we’re going to get married, but she’s the closest thing to a friend I have.
Rather sad, but true.
Well, do you know what I did when I heard that Hazel was out on deliveries in the rain? (Curse those awesomesauce autumnal drinks.)
I… flew to the café.
Yes. Very out of character for me. It isn’t good for my future to care so much about people. I wouldn’t get through a day as a Grim Reaper if I’m constantly worrying about the souls that I’m carrying with me. Father would be so disappointe-
Those were the thoughts that paused when I went to the back of the shop. And then saw Hazel. Bundled up in several blankets, red faced, thermometer in her concerned mother’s hand.
Hazel is sick.
Well. Uhh. What does a “friend” say to another “friend” when the other friend is sick?
It takes me a few moments to remember.
“Get well soon?”
Even sick, Hazel is still beaming at me with those tired eyes. She closes them and releases a breath.
“I knew you would come… you care about me!”
HOW DID I WIND UP DOING THIS?!
Back up, back up, Loralie. Back up.
Let’s see. Hazel was sick. And then she looked at me with her pleading eyes, and said, “Lovey, do you think you could take my place in the café for a little bit?”
I was going to ignore that she called me ‘lovey’ when the rest of the sentence hit me.
ALL I HAD TO DO WAS SAY NO.
But she was looking at me with those big eyes, and all I could think of was how many times she’d protected me from bullies and passed me biscuits when I was feeling sad (not even the cheap ones, the ones that costed like, five dollars for a package), and just never treated me any different from any one else.
Which I appreciated more than I let on. I really should appreciate Hazel more.
These exact thoughts passed through my head- Hazel has done so much for me. Maybe just this once?
So I said ok.
And the pain of the next few days was almost worth it for that grateful and happy look on Hazel’s face.
I think I’m getting better at talking to people. I can manage a full sentence of five/six words without stammering! A true accomplishment.
“Good morning! What can I get you today?”
“Afternoon, what would you like?”
“Maybe warm up with a spiced latte? It’s getting chilly now.”
It even got to the point where I once said, “Our caramel biscuits are to DIE for!”
I said ‘our’!!
(Of course, the customer took their order to-go. I didn’t realize that I was still the apprentice of the Grim Reaper. Man, I’ve become soft.)
Naturally, I’m still no professional. I still mess up sometimes, when there are so many orders that I mess up which table they go to. And don’t even get me started on outgoing/chatty customers. They’re NIGHTMARES. I never know what to say around them. Their words always come out so easily, it’s like they don’t even consider the impact they might be making on someone. Their wings are always flappy, and one once actually nailed my clipboard and sent it flying.
On the third day of half torture/half fun, Hazel’s mother called me over. I could tell she was nervous. Or maybe it was me that was nervous.
“Loralie, I really appreciate you doing this for us on such short notice.”
I stay silent. I probably did something wrong.
“You’ve been fantastic! It makes one wonder why you never hung out with Hazel here.”
I make a weird sighing sound.
“I just have a tip for you. Maybe try unfolding your wings and not keeping them so stiff?”
She flutters her own wings for extra measure. I look down at my black shoes and mumble a, “I’ll try…”.
That day, I tried moving my wings like how Hazel did, trying to match it with my emotions. That was hard. I always felt eh.
It took a full five days for Hazel to recover. I’m not sure if I was happy or not about it. I got to meet basically the whole town. I still don’t have any other “friends”. The best part of my day was visiting Hazel in my lunch break. The second-best part was taking people’s orders. Yes, it’s weird, but it was fun!
I’m honestly glad that Hazel is back. She makes a much better cook and waitress than me. Definitely a better cook.
(Let’s just say I made a scientific discovery when I found out that latte can be burnt, despite being a liquid. Very educational experience.)
But as usual, Hazel looked at me with those big eyes.
Well, you know what, world?
Loralie No-Last-Name, Apprentice to the Grim Reaper, has decided that she really does like Hazel of the Pheonixes.
And she’s happy about it.
So I flashed her one of my rare smiles, because I was happy that I was hanging out with Hazel.