Lilli slammed her pen down on the desk. At the same time Serena’s gum bubble popped.
‘I’ve read the same line three times and I’m still not getting it. Why did I have to go to that doctor’s appointment? Now I’m behind.’
Lilli held her head in her hands, messing up her black hair as she glanced over the textbook again. She then looked over at Serena. Her friend blew another pink bubble, bursting it while meeting Lilli’s eyes. Serena then promptly closed the open textbook with a snap.
‘Honestly, I don’t see why you’re studying right now. The semester is practically over.’ Serena held up her hand as Lilli opened her mouth. ‘And don’t say you’ve got exams. I take the exact same classes you do, and they’re all done.’
Lilli crossed her arms and sat back in her chair, pouting at her best friend’s words.
‘I’m sorry if I like to be prepared.’
Serena raised a pierced brow at Lilli’s attitude, but didn’t respond, choosing to slowly and deliberately pack away the work supplies. Once the supplies were away, Serena slipped on her jacket and held out her hand to Lilli.
‘Come on, let’s go.’ The pouting girl stared at the hand in front of her, puffing out her cheeks in petulance. Serena rolled her eyes and grabbed Lilli’s hand, pulling her up from her seat and towards the door. Both girls exited the library, their arms raised to shield them from the setting sun. ‘See? If we had continued that needless studying, we would have missed this beautiful sunset.’
Lilli shook off Serena’s grip and swallowed, turning away from her friend, knowing the question that was coming.
‘How bout we go for a drink?’
Serena clapped her hands together and looked at Lilli with big pleading eyes. Lilli tried to avoid her friend’s beseeching expression. After all, it wasn’t the first time the older girl had asked her to join the clubbing experience.
‘I don’t know, Rena. You know I’m not a big drinker, nor much of a social person.’
Serena waved off her concerns. ‘Lilybell, I get you’re concerned. I know that the first time we went wasn’t exactly fun…’
‘It was meant to be a karaoke bar, not a dance club filled with drunk frat boys!’ Lilli glared at her friend’s poorly hidden smile. With an angry pout on her face, she started smacking her friend on the shoulder. Serena raised her arms in defeat, her frame shaking with laughter, much to Lilli’s chagrin.
‘Ok, that’s on me. But Lilybell, please? Give me another chance?’ The two girls stood eye to eye, until Lilli looked away with a sigh.
‘Fine. Don’t make me regret this.’
Serena jumped in the air, pumping her fist. ‘Yes!’
Lilli stared at her reflection in the mirror, adjusting her skewed glasses. She then turned to where the dress and shoes that Serena had given her lay on the bathroom vanity. Lilli slipped on the purple dress, worrying about whether the style suited her or whether it was appropriate for a night clubbing. Zipping up the ankle boots and adjusting the long dress, Lilli slowly exited the bathroom.
‘O-M-G. You look amazing, purple really suits you.’ Serena was sitting on the bed, wearing a similar dress in green with a lace-up corset and long black boots. Her green streaked hair was half braided, falling down her back.
‘Thanks.’ Lilli gave the dress a twirl, then looked at Serena. ‘But Rena, isn’t this outfit a bit odd for a night out drinking?’ Lilli watched as Serena smiled, a twinkle in her eye.
‘Trust me. We’re going to a place that I know you’ll love. Now get over here, I wanna do the final touches.’ Serena began loosely braiding Lilli’s hair, occasionally tying something to it until she placed it over Lilli’s shoulder and then handed her a mirror. ‘Have a look.’ Lilli looked into the mirror. Serena had braided little flowers into the main plait, and with the purple dress and her blonde hair, Lilli looked just like Disney’s Rapunzel.
‘I actually look good.’
Her friend laughed at Lilli’s words. ‘Of course you do! Now come on, let’s go.’
‘Wait, you haven’t told me where we’re going!’ Serena had already pulled Lilli out of the room and was rushing outside. ‘Geez, don’t pull so hard,’ Lilli whined, before realising that Serena had led her past the car. ‘Wait, where are you going? Why aren’t we taking the car?’
‘You ask too many questions Lilybell. There’s no need for the car because the place is only just down the road. But it’s a secret.’ Lilli rolled her eyes at Serena’s tone. She still sped up to walk alongside her friend, not wanting to be pulled the whole way there.
‘Can you at least tell me what’s it called? Please?’
‘Hmm. Fine,’ Serena said, holding out her hand. ‘But phone first.’
Lilli frowned, holding her phone close. ‘Why?’
‘Cause I know you. The moment I say what the place is called, you’ll search it up. So, phone. Now.’
Lilli begrudgingly handed the phone over, her pout appearing again.
Serena gave a sweet smile. ‘The Cauldron Brew. That’s the place’s name.’ As she put the phone in her dress’s hidden pocket, she abruptly stopped, causing Lilli to walk into her. ‘We’re here!’
Lilli gazed around at the place, but all she could see was a large run-down house with black windows and smoke pouring out of the chimney. She turned to Serena, to make sure she heard her right, and saw her friend eagerly bouncing on the balls of her feet.
‘Are you sure? This doesn’t look like a club…’
Serena flicked her hair and brushed past her, before knocking three times on the door.
‘Who said I was taking you to a club?’
The door opened from the inside and Serena took Lilli’s hand and led her inside. Lilli’s mouth dropped. Despite the look of the residence on the outside, it was like she had been teleported to a whole other world. There were many people inside, some dressed in similar clothing to her and Serena, while others had capes and big hats. One man even had belts of colourful bottles wrapped around him. In the centre of the room was a drinks bar with all sorts of mixes and alcohol. A woman with a high ponytail was serving. Serena had made herself comfortable at the bar chairs and already had a drink in hand.
‘Serena, my favourite customer. How have you been? College been going well?’ The woman then saw Lilli standing with an awestruck look on her face. ‘Ohh who’s that? You never bring company Serena.’
Serena took a sip of her drink, smirking at the barkeep’s questions. ‘Estelle, let me introduce you to my partner in crime, Lilli. She needed a place to de-stress; she’s still going at it despite term being over.’ Lilli took up the seat next to her best friend, smiling shyly at Estelle. ‘Lilli, this is Estelle, owner of The Cauldron Brew.’
The lady gave a warm smile to Lilli and slid over a drink menu.
‘Pleased to meet you sweetheart. I’m not so much for shaking hands but let me get you a drink. First one’s always on the house for newcomers.’
Lilli gazed over the menu, unsure of all the drink names, before looking up at Serena for advice.
‘Lilybell, you should try the Obsession cocktail. I’m sure you’ll like it.’
‘Um ok. Just the Obsession please Estelle.’ The barkeep smiled and began making the cocktail as Lilli turned to Serena. ‘This place is beautiful. How did you find it?’
‘Well, I actually met Estelle at work, and we struck up a conversation. Turns out there’s a lot of people who love tales of magic realms and mythological creatures. She created The Cauldron Brew to make a place for those people. People who love to dress up, talk about magic, and just have fun. I know how you’ve always wanted to go to an old-timey magic fair like you see online, and you know how much I love my games and movies. So I’ve been coming here for a bit, to see if you would like it. And seeing how stressed you were today…’
Lilli hugged Serena tightly.
‘Thank you. It’s amazing.’ Serena returned the hug, before pulling away and holding up her drink in a toast.
‘Soo, you’ll be down for more nights out?’
Lilli smiled, clinking her glass against her friend’s. ‘As long as it’s here, definitely.’
Author: Rebekah Pouw is a 3rd year creative writing student. She loves writing stories especially in the fantasy genre. She also loves dabbling in mythology writing stories based on them.
Artist: Irene Liao is a visual art student from Taiwan who aims to present figurative human art through her watercolour pieces.
Editors: Brock Scholte and Fernanda Bustos Venegas