Menagerie of Mental Mixtures (Part 1)

The front door wind chimes flutter happily in the gentle breeze as Sally sets foot into the quaint little cafe with a skip in her step. She quietly hums to herself an indiscernible tune as her inquisitive blue eyes briefly scan the well-known menu items pretending to seem interested in taking a moment to decide what to order. Before long they come to rest on the cute barista in her purple apron resting her chin in the palm of her hand with her elbow digging into the marble countertop. The barista, Amanda, has a svelte figure with dazzling pink hair that was choppily cut to hang straight just above her shoulders. With her free hand she is absentmindedly flipping through a tattered old encyclopedia. The writing was so faded that Sally couldn’t make out the words even as she stood right in front of the counter.

The barista flicks her eyes up at her, glances back down to the page she was on, licks her thumb and smears it over the corner of the paper to fold it. She shuts the book with an unnecessarily loud THUNK and neatly tucks it away beneath the counter. She turns her full attention then to Sally and flashes her a charming customer service smile. Despite knowing it was probably fake and not intended just for her but to anyone who walked into the cafe, Sally couldn’t help but find herself mesmerized by it.

“Hey, Sally. How’s my favorite regular doin’? What can I get for ya today?” she says sweetly with a slight accent.

Amanda calls her name twice more before Sally snaps out of it and actually processes the words being spoken to her. “Oh, sorry,” Sally smiles politely. “Just lost in thought.” She suddenly feels super self-conscious about the brown roots in her own dyed-blue hair.

“Whatchya thinking about?” Amanda prompts.

“Nothing much,” Sally says sheepishly being painfully aware of how much she had been staring. 

“Thoughts are racing so fast they’re hard to catch, eh?” Amanda chimes in helpfully.

Sally nods.

“Well, how ’bout I offer ya today’s special? It’s on sale and one of my own personal favorites. Here, take a look,” Amanda ducks down out of view and pops back up after a moment of what sounds like shuffling papers and hissing cats to produce a torn page with a potion bottle scribbled on it. Upon closer inspection it looks like a terrarium with a couple vibrant red mushrooms seeming to be growing wildly out of place from the gentle earthy tones of the soil with distinct blades of grass poking out curiously.

“I call this one Mindful Mushrooms. When ya drink it it transports ya to a forest and really makes ya feel like yer holding the hand of someone guiding ya along for a mindful walk. It’s far better than traditional meditation where it’s just so hard to sit still sometimes and try to only focus on yer breath, y’know? This way ya get to hear the birds chirping and the leaves rusting and the crunch of the ones that fell underfoot. The winds even whisper positive affirmations as ya explore and the mushrooms serve as tasty snacks! Plus, it’s half-off on Mondays. Monday Mindful Mushrooms! Perfect for the anxious or the chronically lost-in-thought types. Would ya like to give it a try?” she says with a glint in her amber eyes.

Without a second’s hesitation, and the subsequent utterance of the single syllable that changed the entire trajectory of her life for good, Sally says “Yes,” and soon finds herself on a journey she could never have imagined in a million years even if she had eaten those mushrooms right then and there. 

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