This is my newest story! EARLY MORNING MAGIC is about a one night stand gone right. Except, like all good stories, it doesn’t start out this way. There’s a little bit of real magic, for Hallowe’en, of course, but mostly it’s just girls fumbling towards love.
The shop wasn’t too busy, so Mika got through the line, ordered her latte, and stepped aside to wait in a matter of minutes. It was a nice. Living on the other side of the neighbourhood, of course Mika hadn’t stopped here before. That was why it looked old and worn in, but completely unfamiliar. She did a turn around the shop, checking out the mugs and teapots for sale on the shelves, picking up a packet of sugar and a stir stick, ready for her latte when it came.
The windows were tall and wide, and they took up the whole of the front of the shop. Leaves were painted at the corners, in red and orange, and a tall tree dropping apples. Sitting up at the counter, one could watch the whole city go by, if they sat there long enough. Mika looked around for a paper, thinking about staying a bit, out of the cold, long enough to drink her latte at least.
That was when she saw it. A whisper of movement in the corner of her eye, the kind of thing you saw in the hallway at night when you got up for the bathroom. Then when you looked, no matter how fast you spun around, it was gone. It was probably never there.
But when Mika turned, slowly this time, because she wasn’t quite sure, the whisper of movement that had caught her eye was still there. At a table in the corner, behind the spinning mug rack, two women. One was leaning across the table, her hand holding a cup of coffee, the other reaching out for her friend. Mika couldn’t see the other woman, but she could hear her laughter. It was loud and high and clear, like ice that sings when you drop it in a glass.
Mika stepped around a cluster of customers waiting for their drinks. She needed to get a better look. From where she stood, the women looked like an after image, the lines left on the screen when you turn off the TV. Up close, they made even less sense in Mika’s head.
The woman with the cup was wearing a beanie exactly like the one Mika’s grandma had knit her for Christmas. The colors weren’t as bright, but Mika could see the M in the pattern, alternating with hearts and stars. Her grandma made it for her last year. Mika hadn’t lost it yet. It was hanging on a peg in her front hall, she knew it.
As she moved through the shop, putting her hand on the shoulder of a little boy running in the opposite pattern, steadying them both before they tripped over each other, Mika’s eyes found the woman on the other side of the table. Her head was ducked down, and she had a hand in her hair, but when she lifted her eyes and pulled her long brown hair away from her face, Mika could see.
It was Josie. It was absolutely Josie. Mika only left her moments ago, but here was Josie in a short green coat, laughing and having coffee with another woman, and for a brief second, a tightness grabbed at her chest, and Mika was jealous. She had run from Josie, but here she was, and Mika was jealous, like she had any right to be. Like she hadn’t already given her up.