Chapter 9:

One day, the tired fisherman wanted to sleep.

Witch Cafe Wisteria

It was a sunny morning in sleepy Reingale. Pecan and Derry hoped that the weather would bring in any parched soul who wanted to escape the heat. Well, maybe not today as it wasn’t exactly hot, but they knew such a nice, sunny day was only part of the beginning of those scorching hot days to come! Yet, they began to realize that their menu was full of nice, hot beverages. Perhaps you, dear reader, are the type of person who enjoys a hot beverage on a hot day. However, most of the fine folk of Reingale preferred something a little more cold and refreshing.

“Well uh what does Camellia have?” Pecan asked.

"The sea breeze is legit so good… we kinda don’t sweat about it,” Derry pondered as she perused her ingredients. "But we just infuse things in the water and call it a day".

Pecan hummed in thought, looking over the ingredients as well. "Do we have any like... uh lemons? For lemonade?"

There were not enough lemons to make lemonade, so they continued thinking of something they could make before it was time to open. Unfortunately, opening time crept up on them, so they had no choice but to leave their quest for cold drinks aside temporarily.

Their first guest of the day came in not too long after the doors were opened. That would be the wisdom-seeking Seigan, who was becoming quite the regular. As per usual, he ordered a cup of Wisdom Tea.

“I dunno if this is rude to ask, but what do you plan to do with... uh… all this wisdom?” Pecan asked as she started combining the proper ingredients.

Seigan shook his head, readying his wallet, “It is not rude. I plan to become a traveling teacher, so I would like to learn as much as I can so I can teach as much as I can”.

Such an answer made Pecan pause. She had imagined, for some reason, that Seigan wouldn’t have an answer ready. It sounded like their regular guest had a specific plan. Pecan felt a bit of happy envy. Understandably, a confusing combination of words, but it’s important to know that this happy envy was more of a positive feeling than a negative one. As Pecan thought about Seigan’s words, all she could say was “huh...”.

As Pecan was adding the finishing touches to the tea, Seigan started to look over to Derry, who was organizing the shelves a bit. Pecan noticed and smirked. She courageously stated, “Today, I’ll be putting the magic in!”

From her spot near the shelves, Derry wiggled her fingers in mock anticipation and made a low “woo” sound. She had to hype up her employee somehow. It’s always good to keep morale high in the workplace, after all.

Seigan patiently waited as Pecan prepared to work her magic. She bent her fingers back enough for there to be a lasting feeling and then placed her hand over the cup. Nothing happened. Perhaps Pecan was not yet ready for such a task...

“One sec,” Pecan mumbled, getting ready to try again. She bent back her fingers once more and placed her hand over the cup.

Again, nothing happened. Instead of becoming frustrated, Pecan took a deep breath.

“Okay okay. Seigan wants to be a wise man,” she told herself. She then tried it again, bending her fingers back for the third time and placing her hand over the cup.

That time, the air shifted slightly, and the familiar, relaxing green shone from the cup. The magic infusion was a success.

“And there you go. That’ll be seven godas,” Pecan said with pride pouring out from her voice. To her, even with two mistakes, it was still worth celebrating. And she was right! Two mistakes are better than three, four, and so on! Well, we strive for no mistakes, but there is no human that makes no mistakes, after all.

Seigan smiled and handed Pecan the proper payment. “Wow, you are growing so much. That is good”.

“I’d better be-- I mean, thank you! Thank you! Such greatness comes with much work. I know, so young yet so powerful,” Pecan said, singing accolades to herself. Perhaps that was more celebrating than necessary, but that’s just how Pecan wanted to go about it.

Humoring her, Seigan clapped and laughed softly. A stand-up citizen for sure. Meanwhile, Derry took a more critical approach. “You might want to reserve ‘so young’ for those of us who picked it up as kids”.

Remembering that Millan, the resident twelve-year-old witch, had long surpassed the point she had reached, Pecan frowned and corrected herself. “Okay, well uh I have a long way to go, but enjoy your tea.”

With that, Seigan thanked Pecan for the beverage and took a seat.

Pecan rinsed off the tools she had used and wiped the counter as Derry checked the seed milk stock. After a while, Pecan spoke up, “Hey uh, Derry? I was thinking… er, what’s your goal in life?”

“My goal?” Derry repeated, placing a finger on her chin. “Well, to run a cafe.”

“You’ve kinda already done that though,” Pecan pointed out as she leaned against the counter.

That made Derry think a bit harder. Of course, some people know exactly what their goals are, and then there are people who don’t have any goals. Meanwhile, there are people who have a goal, but they don’t quite know how to put it into words. Derry was in that group. That might be a bit unsurprising for someone who couldn’t quite put into words the instructions for infusing magic.

She twisted her lips and finally replied, “Well, I’ve been thinking about this for a hot minute now and I guess… my goals have switched up a little”.

Pecan leaned in just a little closer to Derry curiously. “Yeah? How?”

“I told you before that I wanted... to have the same sense of community I grew up with... here, if you remember,” Derry began. Pecan nodded to confirm that she did remember, and so Derry continued, “But if a lot of people aren’t cool with us then that can’t happen.”

That was true. There had been regulars coming to Witch Cafe Wisteria, but for the most part, the crowd was nowhere near what a regular cafe should have had. The occasional rush of college students wasn’t even close to what was expected. Such a crowd doesn’t make for a healthy business!

“Yeah, I guess that can’t happen,” Pecan murmured.

“But that’s what I’ve been thinking about. How can that happen?” Derry said, wagging a finger before uncomfortably shifting to look around. Of course, Seigan was the only customer in at the time, but she spoke with a hush regardless. “I’m thinking a bunch of it… is because people just don’t know any better.”

Seeing her mentor seem so uncomfortable made Pecan pick up on the feeling as well. She couldn’t help but rub the counter with her thumbs in nervousness. Still, she listened.

“So I’ve been thinking maybe… I can… do more. Maybe a lecture… or a class,” Derry said in almost a whisper.

Pecan grimaced a little. “Uh… maybe not a class for you.”

“No no, I know, Pecan. I fudge up explaining things,” she started, “but that doesn’t mean I can’t get better. I can try.”

And Pecan couldn’t help but stare at Derry. Although she seemed nervous about it, there was also a glint in her eyes that seemed to scream that to her it was something she wanted to do and felt she needed to do.

“So that’s your goal?” Pecan asked.

Derry nodded reluctantly and replied, “Something like that, yeah.”

“I totally don’t know how I could do anything, but if you need help with any of that then just uh... let me know?” Pecan said in an unconfident yet genuine way.

Derry smiled and graciously accepted the future offer. “But what about you, Pecan? What’s your goal?”

“I don’t know,” Pecan said swiftly. Derry tilted her head a bit. She had been figuring out her own thoughts as we went, so she wasn’t surprised to hear others not know what they wanted to do, but knowing that Pecan was working so hard at witchcraft, she figured that the apprentice at least had a plan for it. Well, some people learn just to learn, after all.

However, Pecan continued after thinking about what she wanted to say, “I mean, I had another goal once, but now I guess I’d say I want to learn and be good at witchcraft, but I guess like… uh… I dunno. I just kinda wanted to be good at uh… something.” Now it should be noted that, just like with Derry, Pecan was not very good at putting what she wanted into words when it came to the topic of goals! Perhaps she had a better answer if she was given more time to mull it over, but the cafe had received another guest at that moment.

Barley dragged himself into Witch Cafe Wisteria and could only groan a low “hey” as he received the usual greeting. Knowing he was probably too tired to walk up to the counter, Pecan and Derry met him at his table.

“Hey, Barley. You want the Tenaci-Tea again today?” Pecan asked, ready and raring to try another drink’s magic for the day.

Barley paused for a moment and sighed. “Guess I do… but tea’s been messin’ with me...”

Derry seemed surprised. “Oh? Howzat?”

“Mm… get home... but keep wakin’ up... Jus’ tired by mornin’...”

“That’s no good,” Derry said, thinking the situation over. Willpower was a tricky thing, so perhaps there was a problem there?

“Hey, maybe you need something to make you sleep. You know, so you’ll have that energy?” Pecan suggested, thinking of any ingredients that would help with that. Derry nodded and confirmed that such an idea could work.

Barley frowned and furrowed his brow in confusion. “I can’t make it home like that…”

“You can always sleep here if you’d like,” Derry said, causing both Pecan and Barley to stare at her in disbelief. Really? A customer sleeping in the cafe? However, Derry pointed to the windowsill where there was plenty of room for at least three people to sit. “Over there. Not many people come in the morning anyway, so it’s no biggie”.

At that, Barley seemed okay with the idea while Pecan couldn’t hold in her excitement, nearly shouting, “So then can I make it a spell?!”

Derry laughed, “Sure. Just be careful.”

Before Derry even finished her sentence, Pecan was already heading behind the counter. She grabbed a few jars and set them on the counter. She paused to rethink a few of her original ideas and put some jars back only to grab some others. As she prepared a bowl, she started mumbling to herself about what other ingredients she could use or how to prepare one thing or another.

“Wow, look at Pecan go,” Derry chuckled as she made her way behind the counter as well. She had to make sure Pecan was making something that would work after all! However, she did trust Pecan with the ingredients part, it was just the magic part that could still be iffy.

Soon, into the bowl went every ingredient that Pecan needed. The aroma was sweet and relaxing. Pecan looked to Derry for confirmation, and Derry quickly gave her the thumbs up. With that, Pecan brewed a nice tea and poured it into a cup. The drink itself was complete! The magic part was the hardest though.

“Alright. Barley wants good sleep. Good sleep, good sleep…” Pecan continuously repeated to herself. She clapped her hands together three times, which actually made the tired fisherman jump a bit at the noise. Seigan also briefly looked up from his seat before burying himself into his book again.

As much as she could, Pecan tried to focus on making sure her energy was focused on sleep. She tried to push it into the drink and…

It worked! The drink shone a gentle light blue as the air shifted and went right back to normal after a short moment.

“Heck of a job, Pecan!” Derry cheered as she walked over to Barley, helping him make it to the window seating.

Pecan could have exploded with happiness; another spell from scratch with magic successfully infused! However, she chose to celebrate silently that time around. At least for that moment. She wanted to come off as a little professional at least.

She took the cup over to Barley as he situated himself on the window seating. “Here you go. I’m calling it--”

“A Good Night’s Steep,” Derry suggested.

“NO-- ‘Good Rest Tea’. Nice and simple,” Pecan said, allowing the fisherman to take the cup from her hands.

Barley thanked Pecan with a mumble and drank the tea slowly. The witch and apprentice gave him his space and went back to their spots behind the counter. Before they knew it, Barley had finished his cup and curled up on the window seating. Pecan tiptoed over to him so she could pick up his cup. She watched him sleep for a short while just to see if he was actually sleeping. He was, indeed, sleeping soundly. He looked so peaceful!

Pecan tiptoed her way back over, grinning from ear to ear, “It’s working!” she whisper-shouted.

Derry laughed, “You don’t have to whisper. With that spell… I think he’ll be knocked out until he’s ready to get up”.

Pecan excitedly looked back at Barley and then started cleaning up the counter.

The rest of the day was slow. Seigan eventually took his leave in good spirits, looking over the sleeping man in the window seating but shrugging as he left. Someone taking a full sleep in a cafe? So what?

A few college students came in once noon rolled around. Other than that, no other guests came in, so Pecan and Derry were able to continue thinking about cold drinks to serve.

Before they knew it, Barley was awake again and seemed better than ever. He bounced up and rushed to the counter as Derry gave him a quick “good afternoon”.

“That was great! I feel great!” he said as he slammed fifteen godas on the counter. “Ya know I forgot to pay earlier! Can’t be havin’ that, yeh?”

Pecan looked down at the godas in confusion. “Hold on, buddy. It’s only uh seven godas? I know you can count.”

Barley laughed heartily and waved his hand dismissively. “Nah, that’s good. That’s fer the trouble! Thank ya!”

Derry thanked him and Pecan stared at the generous tip as Barley grabbed his things and said his goodbyes. Extra tip! To Pecan, that felt very nice. Getting a nice little tip usually feels good, after all and is worth celebrating on its own. As Barley left, Pecan and Derry said their goodbyes as well.

“That’s it,” Pecan nearly mumbled.

Derry turned to Pecan, humming in question as she got a rag to clean the tables.

“I think what I wanted to say before was… well uh…” Pecan started, still trying to find the right words. “I just really want to use witchcraft to help people. To help fill those holes people have, you know?”

With a smile, Derry nodded. “Yeah. That’s a good one.”

Pecan smiled back but quickly plopped down into a chair with a loud huff. “Heck.”

“It looks like we still need to work on that energy control though,” Derry said with a chuckle. “Go ahead and rest.”

Pecan shook her head and shakily stood up. “I’m fine.” Derry watched her get up with a look of concern, but they just continued going.

At least, in their eyes, it was a very productive day at Witch Cafe Wisteria!