“Oh. I didn’t see you there.” Celia said to the woman who had taken her favorite table. She had begun to set herself up in her usual manner when she noticed the person across from her. This particular coffee shop was only minutes away from her apartment, it had two floors and smelled of old books. On the second floor, was a comfy alcove near a window that she had claimed as her own. She loved to watch the dust motes dance in the sunlight. The baristas knew her by name, but could never guess her order.
Embarrassed, she quickly collected the books she had set down.
“We can share.” The handsome stranger smiled at her, but Celia preferred her own company.
“I’m okay.” She responded curtly and made herself at home at a nearby table. As she settled in she looked up at the person again, when they happened to be looking right at her, quickly, Celia busied herself with the spell books in front of her.
For the next couple of weeks they continued like this. Celia would come in hopeful and there this person would be: they would greet her and Celia would force a friendly smile and settle for shooting longing glances at the warm sunlit corner that was hers, even if this was a public space. All the other patrons just knew. Whoever this was, Celia was not a fan. She knew her resentment was irrational, but she couldn’t help it.
“Hey.” Celia was caught off guard by the voice. She was in the middle of writing and hated having to stop. When she looked up across the table, there they were.
“Hi.” Celia responded after a moment.
“Do you mind if I—” They gestured to the empty chair across from Celia.
“Go ahead.” she responded, uninterested.
“I see we’re working on the same thing.” They said in a hushed tone. Celia’s eyes met the stranger’s. She took in their appearance. They had dark shoulder length hair and eyes just as deep in color, they wore baggy jeans and an old t-shirt for a band Celia recognized but would never admit to liking. It was subtle but Celia felt a tightness in her chest.
“So you—” Celia started.
“Yeah.” The stranger answered before she could finish.
“How’s your book coming along?” Celia couldn’t help but ask. This city had one of the biggest witch populations in the country thanks to its liberal political standing, but it was still exciting to meet new witches. If this stranger was also building a new spell book they had to be in their twenties. A witch’s first spell book is inherited but their second, is one they build once they’ve mastered the first book.
“Well…I got kind of a late start so…I’m lacking some perquisite knowledge.” Celia knew there was more to their answer and was curious but would not push. She didn’t even know their name.
“What?” Celia asked.
“My name.” In that moment it dawned on both of them what had just occurred.
“I take it your discipline is psychic.” Celia said trying to hide a creeping discomfort.
“Oh no. I’m so sorry, I truly didn’t mean to. I struggle with turning it off.” Morgan was quickly trying to defend themselves. Celia, who was put off, remained guarded.
“You need to work on that.”
“I know.” They laughed. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“You sure you don’t want to cheat and read my mind.”
“I’d prefer not to.” Morgan says with a sheepish grin.
“Nice to meet you Celia.”
Celia offered a curt nod and a tight lipped smile. The two sat there for a moment, sizing the other up. Celia could feel their eyes taking her in but she couldn’t help but do the same.
“So.” Morgan said, breaking the silence.
“What’s my discipline?” Celia finished.
“No way. Is it psychic too?” Morgan inquired with excitement. Celia could not help but let out a laugh that turned itself into a snort. Mortified she looks up at Morgan who only looked back with pure curiosity unsure of why she began to laugh in the first place.
“No. I’m an elemental.” Celia shared, but her smug manner would go unnoticed by Morgan, who broke into a massive smile. They looked as though they had been told they’d be visiting Disney, not meeting witch royalty as Celia was so accustomed to.
“So you’ve pretty much mastered it all. Except for the psychic stuff of course.” Morgan still smiled at Celia as if she was the most interesting thing in the room. Celia could not understand how her curt manner did not send the message she needed it to; which was “leave me alone you table stealing witch.”
“So that means you’ll have no problem filling your spell book.”
Celia felt a twitch at this. She looked over her scribbled down spells, unique to only her. The truth is that she didn’t really know where to start. Some witches were content to just fill in every bit of blank space without rhyme or reason but that wasn’t enough. She wanted to revolutionize the composition of Grimoires. Suddenly remembering this, Celia felt herself deflate.
“Are you okay?” Morgan asked, their smile faltering but was still there in spirit.
“It’s nothing.” Celia responded as she had so many times before. Resting both elbows on the table, she buried her face into her hands, letting her hair fall into her face.
“Hey, do you want to work together?”
“What?” Celia said, with mild disbelief in her voice. She looked up at Morgan through a mess of curls. They had reached out to her and barely touched her on the arm as they made their proposal.
As if seeing them for the first time this stranger, she shot heated looks at for days, was showing her so much kindness in that moment. For a moment, there was a feeling in her chest she didn’t understand yet. That feeling told her this could be a good idea.
“Sweet”, they exclaimed, pulling their chair closer. “Can I be honest with you?”
“Hm?” Celia responded, eyes mildly curious.
“I’ve been wanting to approach you since that first day you stopped at my table.”
My table, Celia thought.
“But I had a feeling you didn’t like me.”
“What?” Celia said too loudly. “I don’t even know you.” Celia said with an uncomfortably large smile.
“Okay good. I’m going to grab my stuff, sit tight.” As Morgan got up and walked past her, Celia could smell sunshine and lavender on them. Somehow that scent felt like home.