Chapter 16:

One day, Pecan became sick.

Witch Cafe Wisteria

Reingale was given the fortune of a bright and sunny day with hardly a cloud in the sky. Well, maybe some would prefer a rainy and muggy day, but for most of the residents of Reingale, the clear sky days were the preferred type. It was one of those hours where many would rather not be at work. Pecan was, in fact, not at the cafe working on such a wonderful day. However, please don’t think that Pecan was out enjoying herself. Oh no. Instead, poor Pecan was resting in bed. Unfortunately, the witch apprentice was sick!

“Sorry, Doe. Just… put out a sign… ‘no magic’. Don’t worry… shouldn’t... be busy,” Pecan groaned out. As she ended her call with Doe, she rolled over with a whimper. She knew that everything would pass, but she felt bad leaving Doe on his own. As she said, the cafe probably wouldn’t be busy, so she wasn’t too worried. Still, that was sometimes the hard part. For Pecan, she could entertain herself by coming up with spells, experimenting with drinks, and eating.

Ah, eating. That was how she had gotten into her current situation in the first place. That is, Pecan had some rather bad food poisoning. This infuriated Pecan.

“What’s the point of making everyone get a degree to promote so-called food safety if they make their foods unsafe anyway?!” Pecan yelled out in her head.

With a pain in her stomach and a telling feeling of food attempting to rush up her pipes, Pecan hobbled over to the bathroom. Poor Pecan.

Well, there’s no need to explain all the nasty details of this unfortunate event. Thankfully, Pecan was feeling just fine the next day. Unlike before, she prepared her own food to bring to the cafe. She couldn’t make anything amazingly delicious since she wanted her stomach to take it easy, but she was content enough with her banana mush, rice, and bread. Very plain. Definitely not a foodie’s dream. Nonetheless, she was happy to be able to come to the cafe with some type of food. That is, until she saw the state of the cafe.

It was a mess! There were spills on the floor, napkins thrown all over the place, chairs far from their tables, and soil suspiciously sitting near plants that had likely been toppled over. And in the middle of it was a nervous-looking Doe, mopping as fast as he could.

“Doe. What?” Pecan asked, rushing behind the counter to set her bag down. However, behind the counter was hectic as well. There were jars on the floor-- which Pecan was relieved knowing that the lids weren’t exactly easy to open. So, while there were a few herbs littering the ground, at least they weren’t because the jars had dropped. It just looked like Doe had flung some herbs around or… well, Pecan hoped he hadn’t done something so silly, but she wasn’t exactly sure what happened.

She set her bag on the chair behind the counter as she looked to Doe for an answer.

“Ahhh, so… um um… a lot of people came in…” Doe said, definitely not using his usual shouting voice. “Apparently, some almond seller had a Good Luck Tea and struck it rich.”

“Uh… what-- oh shoot,” Pecan mumbled, smacking her face into her palm. She remembered exactly what that was about.

Doe nodded, sucking in his lips. Eventually, he finally spoke again. “Everyone wanted the Good Luck Tea… but I couldn’t put magic in it...”

“So they messed up the place?!” Pecan asked, furious.

“Oh! No... not really on purpose?! They were angry, but it was more that... there were a lot of people…” Doe began. “Some wanted it even without the magic…! We were closed but they wouldn’t leave until they got a drink… so I was here really late…”

Pecan sighed and looked around. “I get it. Sorry, Doe. It’s okay. You were probably way too tired to clean.”

Doe nodded again to confirm as he continued to mop. With that, Pecan started helping Doe clean. The two worked as fast as they could to wipe the tables, counter, pick up any napkins, and made sure everything was in tip top shape. What would have been a long job for one had easily turned into a regular task for two.

After they were done, Pecan moved her bag off the chair and plopped down. “Phew. Okay. Uh... thankfully, we have time to spare.”

Doe hummed in agreement; a lot more silent than he usually was. He leaned against the wall with his hands behind his back. Pecan could see him fiddling with his fingers anxiously.

“What’s wrong? Was there something else wrong?” Pecan asked as she started to get a sinking feeling in her gut-- and it wasn’t any lingering food poisoning.

Doe shook his head.

“No! Nothing like that! But… but Pecan… could you…” Doe paused, looking down at his shoes. Then he took a deep breath and turned to his fellow employee. “Could you please teach me magic?!”

Pecan stared at him in shock, eyebrows furrowed downward in confusion. “Uh…”

“I just felt so useless yesterday! They all wanted magical drinks and I… I couldn’t do anything!” Doe yelled. It seemed like he was close to tears! Understandably so. When one can’t quite do something that many want, it becomes rather frustrating.

The witch apprentice held up her hands, trying to get Doe to calm down a bit. It was still quite early in the morning for such a loud voice, after all. “Okay okay. I’ll teach you, just calm down a little.”

“...Okay!” Doe smiled and wiped a tear away from his eye.

However, Pecan wasn’t exactly sure how she was going to teach Doe much of anything. She had struggled a lot with it herself. With a shrug, she gestured to the ingredients behind the counter. “Go ahead and brew the Good Luck Tea.”

Doe quickly grabbed all the necessary jars and mixed everything as fast as he could. He was nowhere as fast as Pecan and could only dream of being as fast as Derry, but his measurements were correct. That was the most important part. Pecan could imagine it: Doe trying to prepare someone’s tea at the rate he was currently going only to have them yell that he was going too slow. In her head, she kept apologizing for not being able to be there. If it wasn’t busy then it would have been fine, but of course that day of all days just had to be maybe the busiest day Witch Cafe Wisteria would ever see.

Finally, Doe had finished brewing the tea, so Pecan hopped off the chair. “Okay, that looks fine. So what you’re going to want to do is uh…”

She couldn’t quite find the words. Where would she even start? Maybe she was too hard on Derry for not exactly knowing how to put the whole magic infusion thing into words. Pecan was drawing a huge blank.

After quite a while, she thought of something. “So what I like to do is uh… clap. That way you feel the energy in the form of pain uh… right at your hands.”

So, Pecan clapped and Doe followed along. “Okay!”

“Then, you want to imagine… shoot, I don’t know... something you think about when you think of Good Luck.” Pecan explained. Doe oo’ed at the thought, but Pecan elaborated. “Or-- this one’s easy-- I got it as a fluke a few times because I was wishing myself good luck without realizing it.”

With a laugh, Doe confidently nodded. “Okay! I think I’ve got it!”

Pecan stepped aside so Doe could have his space to think. “Just try it a few times. We’ll try a few things,” she said. Except, she wasn’t sure what the few things would be. She wasn’t sure if the zany things Derry had her doing for some of the practice sessions were helpful.

Doe clapped his hands and closed his eyes. He flipped one hand over, palm above the cup. While making an oddly silly face, he inhaled sharply through his nose and shouted.

Pecan cringed. “Okay, you don’t have to do it like some main character--”

The cup’s contents glowed a largely powerful burst of yellow as Doe continued to scream at the cup.

At the sight of such a scene, many would be rather amazed. However, Pecan blinked rather straight faced as the space radiated with yellow. She picked up her bag and walked toward the door. Before she made it, the glowing stopped.

Doe, out of breath, happily laughed. “Pecan! Did you see that?!”

“Screw you. I’m quitting,” said Pecan. And so, in what was perhaps not Pecan’s proudest moment, the witch apprentice left the cafe. Of course, that left only Doe who was now the main character of Witch Cafe Wisteria!

Apologies all around, that was only a joke. Pecan returned after she took a short walk around the block. Upon walking in, she couldn’t help but glare at Doe, who looked quite uncomfortable with his hands nervously clasped up to his mouth.

“W-Welcome back!” Doe called out to Pecan as she stood near the entrance, thinking.

She eventually sighed and walked back behind the counter and placed her bag down again. Taking a seat on the chair, she folded her arms and only stared forward. While there was silence for a long moment, Doe was at least happy that his fellow employee had returned. The cafe wasn’t open yet, but if it turned out to be a busy day like the day before had been then he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to handle it.

Finally, Pecan sighed and said, “Do it again.”

Doe beamed. “With the same cup or a new one?!”

“Doesn’t matter.”

Doe kept the same cup and tried his best to mimic what he had done before. He clapped his hands and placed one over the cup. He inhaled and this time shouted, “Luck!!”

As with the first time, a blindingly yellow glow radiated from the cup. Soon, the contents went back to normal, and Doe spun around to hear what Pecan had to say.

“I’m pretty sure that your entire existence is based on being a mockery to my own,” Pecan mumbled.

Doe scratched his head over Pecan’s words and then shrugged. “I think you just… taught me well?!”

“Tch. Doe, this is going to be a silent session starting now,” Pecan snapped.

And so, despite Pecan’s disappointment with how fast Doe was picking up magic infusions in comparison to how slowly she had, she helped guide her fellow employee through several spells. Unlike the day before, the cafe only saw a small amount of people come in after they had heard of the almond selling lady’s ridiculously good fortune. That allowed the two employees to practice more. Soon enough, Doe’s infusions were more controlled and contained-- especially after Pecan told him to stop shouting the spells like some cartoon character. This wasn’t a cartoon, after all.

With another magic-infusing employee in its ranks, though he still needed much training, there were a lot of possibilities for Witch Cafe Wisteria in the future!