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Venti Mocchaccino, No Whip, Double Shot of Magic

Aimee Ogden is a former science teacher and software tester; now she writes stories about sad astronauts, angry princesses, and dead gods. Her stories can also be found in Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Fireside. She also co-edits Translunar Travelers Lounge, a new magazine of fun and optimistic SFF, whose first issue lifts off in August 2019. You can follow her @Aimee_Ogden or the zine @TranslunarTL on Twitter for updates.
Coffee at Cardinal Cups always comes with an off-menu bonus.
One of Jojo's regulars pulls up to the drive-thru with his Wednesday morning office order: three frappes, two lattes, one soy mocha. He always leaves a good tip, and he always pays with a credit card. Credit card users are great for customer service witches like Jojo, who need a full name to do their best work. "Have a good one, D!" she says, handing him the carrier tray, and she knows he will because his coffee comes with a nice cantrip that'll help him send all his emails for the next week with zero typos and exactly the right number of exclamation marks.
The next guy, however, who throws his frappe (he wanted salted caramel, not just caramel-caramel!) at the drive-thru window? He paid in cash, so no credit card receipt to get his details from. The plastic cup has his first name Sharpie'd on it, though, so she sends a little hex after him. Nothing much: an ingrown hair, or maybe a mean hangnail. An hourly-wage sort of satisfaction. The owners don't know why or how Jojo keeps the right customers coming back and sends most of the wrong ones packing, but they sense she's got something to do with it. A little operant conditioning, in her opinion, could really do a person good. And in most of these cases, that person is Jojo.
On Thursday morning Jojo's favorite and most frustrating regular arrives at the counter for her traditional order of a muffin and a cinnamon spice latte. "And can I put a name on that?" Jojo asks, a reluctant smile already pulling at her mouth.
The regular smiles back. It wrinkles her nose and the corner of her eyes, making new constellations out of her freckles. Jojo wants to map out every line of the corresponding star chart. "Hermione Granger," she says. And blushes? Maybe? Jojo studiously avoids looking too closely.
"Hermione Granger it is." She scribbles in black marker as the regular drops a dollar into the tip jar. She always pays in cash, too. No real name means spellwork is silk-slippery, impossible to make stick.
Harold comes in on Friday mornings for Senior Dollar Coffee Day. Jojo pulls up a chair so he can sit close to the counter (the stools are too tippy for him) and show Jojo pictures of his granddaughter at her latest piano recital. She only has a first name--he always pays in dimes, with a quarter for the tip jar--but she does what she can and sometimes when he leaves his hand is gripping his cane a little tighter.
Later that day Mrs. Cynthia I WANT TO SEE YOUR MANAGER Nielsen stops by after her yoga class. Jojo has to make her drinks an average of three times before they're "right." Once Cynthia had the gall to tip from the Take a Penny dish; this time she signs a 0.00 with a flourish on the credit card receipt. Jojo is a little disappointed to think she'll never get to hear the story of Cynthia ripping the world's most noxious fart in the middle of the yoga studio next Friday.
The regular is back on Saturday morning, a pile of study books under her arm. When Jojo asks for a name, she says "Eleanor Roosevelt," which goes with the history textbook in the crook of her elbow. When Jojo calls for Ms. Roosevelt's order, it doesn't get as many giggles from the shop as the pop culture references do. But the regular smiles, and that's plenty good enough.
"Enjoy the coffee," Jojo says, through the heat in her cheeks.
"You, too," says Eleanor Roosevelt, then cringes as she realizes.
Jojo opens her mouth to say she's heard the same thing a thousand times. But then--she peeps a name penned onto the top of a notebook page. Susannah R--She feels a secret, wicked thrill that she's never felt before for a bit of magic so benign. A wish, something small, already on its way to coming true and given the last tipping point into reality: a lost bus pass suddenly found, maybe, or a half-grade better on a final exam. Finally. She grins stupidly, and Eleanor offers back a curious smile, and then the pause zips past "awkward" into "mortifying" so Jojo retreats back to the espresso machine.
A mom comes in with a pair of toddling twins. They split a raspberry Danish and the mom slams a redeye before crawling on all fours to collect the crumbs. On the credit card receipt, she scribbles "25% sorry math." Jojo sends her off with a doggy bag for the leftover Danish and, though she doesn't know it yet, the best and deepest night's sleep she's had in three years.
The gross guy who keeps asking if she has a boyfriend comes in between four and five, when the shop is mostly empty. He pays in cash; "Josh" isn't much to go on so she hasn't yet conditioned him to associate Cardinal Cups with canker sores. "What are you doing after you get off tonight?" he says, leaning on her display of artisanal truffles. "Because you could be getting off."
"She's got plans." It's none other than Susannah R., punctuated by the door chime. Josh says something unpleasant about a threesome but Jojo barely hears him because Susannah R. is standing in the shop for the second time that day and stammering, "I mean, if she wants to."
She does. "I love it when wishes come true," she says. This time, Susannah's nose-wrinkling smile does a little magic of its own on her knees.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
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