by Sue Johnson
She called it Pumpkin Spiced Latte and they believed her. Anything up to two hundred people queued every day outside Winnie’s coffee shack. School kids, businessmen, art students, builders, ragamuffins and clowns waited their turn for a take-away carton of the magic brew. Nobody could actually say what the special ingredient was. There were three rules while you waited at Winnie’s. The first was no mobile phones. She claimed it hurt her cat’s ears. His name was Magenta and he was jet-black. The second was that you needed to have spoken to at least three people, and the third was – in order to qualify for Winnie’s special discount – you needed to have paid at least one person a compliment.
Later, when the truth came to light, many people said they’d not actually liked the taste of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte that was the only item that Winnie served from her wooden shack. However, nobody could deny what a joyous place it was even on a gloomy November morning. When it rained there was a patchwork of brightly-coloured umbrellas with laughter echoing from beneath them. By New Year, so many proposals of marriage had been made that the local churches and registry offices were fully booked for months.
When Winnie died suddenly, thousands of people turned up for her funeral. They remembered the rules she’d made that had inspired so much friendship, and campaigned for the wooden shack to be preserved. They built a peace garden around it and opened a brick-built café where mobile phones were not allowed. Winnie’s rules were painted on the walls in large pink letters.
The café was called Winnie’s. By popular request it did not sell Pumpkin Spiced Latte.