by Lucy Chihandae

magic - "A collection of things unseen that become visible and bring joy or a deeper expression of glee beyond anything imaginable"

Right at the corner of 14th and N st, through the bustling busy walk way, the wind and I make our way through the cool of DC's Chinatown. I catch a waft of a song, it floats by so fast I miss the beat and scowl at the wind for being so frisky. "Slow down," I whisper, "I am missing all the beauty in it!"

The gentle breeze caresses my neck apologetically and bursts out in high volt mischief chasing hats, scarves and skirts down the walk way. I giggle in delight, making a right to the mall, a tiny corner coffee shop looms in sight. Fifteen minutes before the movie starts. Maybe I could grab a mocha. Maybe not.

I really want one

I ought to have one. It's been too long?

Maybe two weeks.

There was a Starbucks two blocks back, I could get my movie ticket and walk right back for a creamy sweet chocolate peppermint flavored mocha. The wind teases my thoughts collecting all the coffee scents along the walk way cafes on its way back to find me at the corner.

I in to the temptation of a coffee, maybe not a peppermint one... it's only ten more minutes to the movie. The coffee stand inviting beckons teaming up with the wind. My mouth waters. I swallow hard. The man behind the counter is on the phone and excuses himself from his long distant call and comes over.

"May I help you?" he asks his accent is faintly French laced. His smile lights up his dark face and I smile back looking at the coffee machines and the treats in the glass cases; match them up against the prices. My mind is racing. I smile shake my head hesitantly and rush in to buy the ticket. I have only five minutes, maybe I can take the coffee in that time after all the actual movie doesn't start for another fifteen minutes, I make a hasty dash for the box office and make my selection, pay and decide against all odds, coffee is a go. Starbucks is too far, I will have to make do with the "coffee alley."

I return to the stall and peer in through the window at the man with a beautiful skin as smooth and brown as the coffee he pours out into the coffee brewer. He smiles at me, recognition lighting his eyes, "ah, you are back, coffee now?" I nod with a smug grin on my face. The wind has been waiting for me, he gently nudges me in frolicsome agreement to my choice, "it's your fault," I grin," you make me do frolicsome things."

And a gurgle escapes the air around me, wraps me in its chuckle. I pull my scarf closer.

"What would you like," the man asks, I scan the menu and say, "mocha, single shot of espresso, and some biscotti cookies please."

His face falls," ah... we are out of cookies, may a Danish,"

I sigh and pout, "oh no, I wanted cookies, oh well, I will see what else I want."

He laughs, "the croissants and danishes are really nice."

I have heard those sales words before and the wind and I exchange glances.

"Are you sure?" I ask.

"Upon my heart," he swears. His accent piques my curiosity and ask I watch him scoop coffee powder and chocolate to mix and brew I ask him where he is from.

"Senegal," he says and then states, more than asks, "and you are from Tanzania?" I shake my head. All the time I meet people and curiosity piques their interest about my origin I make them play the guessing game.

The wind and I giggle as he plays along. He cocks his head to one side and thinks, "errrr Kenya?"

I shake my head and the wind does too.

"Uganda," he says easily.

I frown slightly disappointed he guessed so easily. I say "yes, how did you guess?"

He laughs and says, "ah, my nose knows things."

I smile and watch him a little longer fascinated by his trade and I ask a few questions like, how he learned to make coffee and if he knows French, "je parle francias?" I purr out delighted to double in my people skills French and exasperatedly wish I can belt it out as fluently as my English.

"Oui," he smiles as if I am a long lost relative he can bond with," You speak French in Uganda,no?"

"Oh no but I learned through school. Our neighbouring country back home does," I say.

He hands me my coffee and I ask one more time, "do you own this coffee alley?" he smiles a naughty smile. "Ah! you were in communications, I see, you ask too many questions." I am astounded by how his perception prowess. Maybe he just paid attention, like the wind.

"How do you know?"

He grins,"I told you my nose tells me things." I laugh and order an almond croissant, rejecting the chocolate one he has warmed up for me.

His eyes skillfully notice I use the left hand, "ah! you are left handed? You must be a genius," I smile.

"Yes I am, like your nose that knows all things." He shrugs and turns to arrange his shelf.

I am still curious as to how he so easily read me. Was it the coffee? What was it? I try to nudge for more answers, the journalist in me won't let it go.

With his back still to me, he chuckles softly and says, "You should ask the wind, he speaks a lot."

I smile knowingly and feel the wind make a shy exit, back down the road to cause more mayhem. "and I thought I was the only one who listened," I reply...more to myself.

Magic by Lucy Chihandae

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