Still no closer to a workable coffee-based potion. I sniffed, the aroma of brewing beans holding back tears for now. I was going to fail again, just like rain fell every day from one thirty until three fifteen as according to the mayor.
I needed clarity. Focus. Where was the sea dew? That always helped me for a little while, gathering my clouds into shapes instead of the scattered wisps they normally were.
My shaking hands took out the espresso shot and looked for where to dump it. Cold brew! I took a glass of cold coffee and mixed the two of them into one stream, filling up the glass halfway. Then I plopped in one ice cube, letting the sea dew splash on to that three times so it smoothly became part of the coffee.
Two minutes. What else would I want for focus? My fingers plucked bacopa extract and sprinkled it into the coffee, which I turn stirred widdershins nine times, my heart beating in time with the clinking of metal against glass.
A sprig of rosemary would add to the presentation, plum and mossy green contrasting against the dark brown in a lovely, complementary way.
I frothed a dollop of whipped cream and made a smiley face onto the top of the glass of coffee. Nothing was ever wrong with using imagery to promote a positive feeling, and as I loved pointing out to my friends, with the word “mage” in it, it was already a part of witchcraft.
The owl began to hoot and I stopped. Dropped the utensil from my hand. Maybe… maybe if I drank it now I’d know how badly I’d failed and I could figure out what to do next year and I could be calculating instead of crying in front of all these people–a dark hand latched onto my wrist before I could touch my glass.
“Time’s up Juniper.” She took it from me and carried it to the judges, then came back. “That was smart of you.”
I looked up into her round face, looking for the scorn I knew had to be there.
“I’m not lying. You had a problem, figured out how to solve it, and finished your test.”
“But…” I didn’t have enough words to explain my feelings. “I just made myself a drink. I couldn’t make one for my customer.”
“You chose to do that.”
I shook my head.
“I chose to…” and I stopped. I had. I had chosen how to help a person. The ingredients to make the concentrated potion. Even with presentation I had made a choice. Two choices. Huh.
“Some people can see a stranger and sense what they need.”
I nodded at that. Angie always looked like magic come to life, reading auras and having a drink ready for our customers before they’d ordered. I had never been able to do that, and so was regulated to the people who wanted a non-magical cup.
“You’re different. Your choices are based on your own feelings, and you help others by first seeing what you would aid you, and then transferring that help to others.” She chuckled. “We’re going to need to change up the menu a little. I’ll still be there to serve people what they need, but you’re going to be an asterix.”
She shot me an amused look.
“Drink by Instinct. I like it.”