Here’s a story of a few friends coming together in a project of love, friendship and a free-for-all brawl. Indeed, a wonderful tale. Now, we start our tale with two of my friends and me— students of the nearby university—as we walked into a recent café around the block.

“Quit pushing, I said I don’t want to go. Seriously, I hate coffee, I’m a tea person, Nox!”

“Oh, shut it. You’ll love it.”

“I dunno, if he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it.”

“You shouldn’t be one to talk, Sehina. You were a tea-only person not too long ago, weren’t you?”

“Whatever.”

“Just come on in.”

A rush of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla rushed into our faces. We all gave a deep sigh and grinned. The shop was dimly lit inside a cherry wood room (What taste!). The shop gave that antique bookstore feel while being very contemporary with its metal, leather-padded chairs and brushed-metal edges.

A corner of the shop was lined with baristas working furiously as a crowd of customers shouted their orders. I was awestruck at how calm the baristas were with a business smile and their speed of taking orders and passing back drinks and short eats. On the opposite side of the baristas was an arena—yeah, a boxing arena. Don’t worry about that—yet.

“Are you done staring, now,” Nox called out, pulling me from my trance.

“Take your time, it’s a lot to take in,” said Sehina.

I walked toward the menu board and gazed through the dozens of options and combinations. Seriously, it was like I was looking at the countless boards at the New York Stock Exchange. The sheer amount of options had me glazed over, staring at the blackboards with neon markers flowing together into some psychedelic stream. It was a very new experience—not one I would like to relive anytime soon.

As my eyes bore into the board, I was jerked out of my trance, staggering with my shoulder bruising. I jolted around glaring at the direction the hit came from. Staring at me with her deep-brown inquisitive eyes, Sheila tilted her head; as a blur disorientated my eyes, I fell into complete unconsciousness.

I woke up standing with bright, LED lamps blinding me through my tightly shut eyes. Squinting little by little, I got used to the intense light and examined my surroundings. I was in the arena, that boxing arena. It didn’t take very long for me to realize what was going to happen. I cursed under my breath and tried to run off the arena. As I twisted around, I smacked my head into the arena’s corner beam. Crumbling to the ground as I clutched at my throbbing forehead, I noticed a person staring at me from the opposite corner. I cursed again, “What the hell?” Sehina was there equipped with full kickboxing gear and with her glare, probably ready to grind me into the ground.

I raised my trembling hands into feeble fists when thunderous metal clashed together. The sudden sound had me dazed for a split moment. My senses cleared up once more and before me was a full barista’s bar table. In front of Sehina was the exact same set up.

“What the heck?” I exclaimed over the surrounding crowd cheering and yelling.

“Surprised? What d’you think?” Sehina replied calmly with a grin.

“Why the heck did you punch me for?”

“Funsies? Had to bring about this contest, y’know.”

“You’re messed up in the head, you know that? Seriously mental. Anyway, what are we doing here?”

“It’s a coffee/tea contest. Basically, we try to make the most delicious coffee or tea for three judges including your opponent. Disregard the side effects. Anyway, the bell has rung—let’s begin!”

“What bel-” A gong from behind my ear rung with a glorious blast.

I’ve never made my own tea, usually my mom makes it for me. I’ll have you know, she makes the best Ceylon tea to be made. Tea aside, I’ve made my share of delicious dishes. Mostly curries and crème brûlée and some damn good sautéed sausages with caramelized onions wrapped in toasted butter Yep, sure. In your dreams. I cried. I collapsed to the ground groaning as I clutched at my burnt arm staring through my winced eyes as Sehina went back to her table. The aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg and a half dozen other spices filled my nostrils. As much as a jerk she was, Sehina worked elegantly. Not a moment was wasted as she shifted from kettle to mug and the spices stand. I found a cold pack and tried to crawl out of the ring but was halted by the audience as they shoved me back. I rested my back onto the table and sat cross-legged watching Sehina.

When she was finished, Sehina set a mug in front me. She sat down in front of me waiting with a stupid grin. I peered into the mug. Whipped cream. I shrugged and with a grimace I tried to take a sip. I almost gagged. Coffee. I was about to slam the mug back down, but Sehina pushed the mug back to my lips and I took another sip. I was drinking a fusion of Ceylon tea and Chai, Ceylon Chai if you will.

“I hate you, y’know? Freaking burnt me”

“Look at your arm, how burnt is it?”

I looked at my arm but the blistering was fading.

“Hey, how’re you feeling? This here is a magic coffee shop. You’ll never know what’s going to happen around here.”

Sehina helped me on my feet and I saw Nox resting his elbows on the mat grinning at me.

“Where the hell were you?”

“Laughing my ass of at your scared face,” Nox guffawed.

“Shall we go? Had enough for the night?” queried Sehina.

“I’ve had enough for a year. Let’s go.”

That night we left the coffeehouse laughing at the “brawl.” It was fun, I admit, but that place is pure insanity. Once thing’s for sure though, I gotta get better at brewing tea and coffee. Yea, coffee ain’t half bad. I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to that place. Well, I’ll come back under two conditions: one, I’m absolutely insane or two, I’ve got a surefire chance at winning my next match. Until then, it’s time to get to work.

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