Sunday is the busiest and slowest day at the coffee shop. While the morning rush makes me long for an extra pair of arms, the rest of the day crawls by at a sloth’s pace.
Glancing at the clock for what feels like the thousandth time, I exhale a sigh of relief. We close in just under an hour. Finally.
I get a head start on the cleanup routine, then fill a mug with my allotted drink of the day and settle into an empty chair. I’m alone except for a kind elderly couple–Sunday evening regulars–and a man in a suit typing on his phone.
I sip from the mug, my thoughts distracted with the details of an assignment due before midnight. Completing my GED online is an annoyance I’d rather avoid.
But—as several school counselors and my empty bank account have taught me—the real world doesn’t take high school dropouts very seriously.
The jingling of bells announces a customer. I look up and see the blue-haired faery. His lanky form carries the same causal grace I sensed from him before.
We lock eyes, and I feel as though my chair and my butt have both become magnets. He steps closer and offers a little wave.
“Hello again. Are you still serving tea?”
My response is three seconds too late. “Y-yes.” I heave myself from the chair by pushing against the table. My mug tips and splashes the drink down my shirt.
Blue-hair moves to steady the table, and I jump back at his closeness. The chair clatters to the ground—an almost deafening sound in the quiet shop.
The elderly couple smiles pityingly, no doubt concerned that someone my age still hasn’t learned how to stand from a chair. The businessman glances over before returning to his phone.
With a soaked shirt and flaming face, I duck my head and speed-walk around the counter. I focus on filling a teacup with water. My hands tremble and I fear I’ll spill something again.
The faery stands by the register, seeming to be distracted by some local artwork on the wall. I would feel grateful for his polite dismissal of my humiliating display–if he wasn’t the reason behind it.
I keep my eyes averted while I put in the order, but I can hear the smile in his voice as he says, “I meant to offer an invitation to you the other day, but I didn’t see you when I left.”
The tea hasn’t finished steeping, but I turn to check on it anyway. He didn’t see me last time because I hid in the back room like a coward until Whitney told me that blue-hair was gone.
And I would be hiding now if I weren’t the only employee here.
He continues in an amiable tone, “I’m the host of a rather niched group. Growing our circle is a passion of mine, which is why I tend to notice new faces in town. I apologize if I came across as a snoop.”
More like a creep.
“No harm done.” I flash a strained smile. “Here is your tea.”
I set the teacup on the counter. He lingers—no doubt wanting to continue his pitch for this group—but I escape to the back room.
I rest against the sink, counting my breaths. By now I should be able to cope with my reality. Maybe you could, if the fae would stop ambushing you, an inner voice gripes.
I let fifteen minutes pass. Then I tighten my ponytail and return to the counter.
But the faery is still here, sitting in the back corner like the total creep he claims not to be.
The couple waves to me as they shuffle out the door. We close in a half-hour, meaning that the businessman will leave soon.
Maybe blue-hair is waiting until I’m alone. Fear tumbles around my gut at the thought.
I decide to confront the faery and tell him we’re closing. If I act now, the businessman’s presence will surely dissuade the faery from doing anything stupid.
Plus, I have a pocketknife and pepper-spray. Just in case.
The faery watches me approach and my nerves spark with hot adrenaline. I use my eyes to send him a clear message. One wrong move, and I scratch your throat out.
He lowers his gaze and stirs his tea with elegant fingers.
I halt a few paces away and clear the tightness in my throat. “We’re closing now.” He nods and I turn to leave.
“You almost had me fooled.”
His cool tone sends a shiver down my spine. I face him, grateful for the space between us. I fold my arms, keenly aware of the iron knife in my jean pocket.
His thin lips twitch. He watches the tea swirling lazily in his cup.
“The whole teenage-human-indifference act.” He glances up with a brief smile. “It suits you. And more importantly, it hides your true colors. I almost couldn’t get a read on you with that middle finger plastered to your forehead.”
My mouth pops open but I snap it closed just as fast. “Who the hell are you?”
He sets the spoon on the saucer. “My fae-given name is too embarrassing to share with a near-stranger, but you can call me Jun.”
My shock compounds. He just admitted he’s a faery. I know the fae can be brash, but this is new territory for me.
I shoot a glance at businessman seated several tables away. While another human’s presence is comforting, I don’t want him overhearing this.
As if reading my mind, Jun says dismissively, “He cannot hear us. Simple glamour spell.” He gestures to the chair across from him. “Would you care to sit?”
Now the faery is using glamour—magic—on my customers. What in the world is going on!
Tamping down on my mounting panic, I say through gritted teeth, “You have three minutes.”
Jun sips his tea, black eyebrows raised. “I am part of a unique group of mixed beings—blends of human and magical races. For example, I am one-third fae, two-thirds human.”
He waits, probably hoping I’ll offer my own lineage. I look pointedly at the ticking clock on the wall. He swallows another gulp of tea and continues.
“Seeing as you’re new here, I wanted to extend the invitation. If you’re interested in attending—”
He pushes the teacup aside and stands. “I don’t mean to offend. You’re not the first of us to prefer privacy. Life as a half-breed is never easy.”
His sincerity makes me check my bluntness. But when it comes to the fae, I can’t be too careful.
“I appreciate the offer, but I’m really not interested.”
Jun wraps a scarf around his neck and offers a small smile. “Of course. Have a good night.”
He sets a twenty on the table and takes four strides to the door. Just as he’s about to leave, he turns toward the businessman.
As if on cue, the man looks up from his phone with a dazed expression. At the sight of the empty shop, he seems to regain his awareness and hurries to gather his things.
Jingling bells sound from the door. I turn to watch the fading form of the faery as he blends into the night with unsettling ease.
The businessman follows seconds later. The clock reads ten minutes until closing. Close enough.
With my pounding heart rattling my ribcage, I scramble to the door and bolt the lock.
I hope you enjoyed the second half of the Coffee Shop Scene! Stay tuned for more magic coming your way soon.
– Logan Miehl