Sweet Arrest

By: Jordyn Tracey

A'isha flipped on all the lights, shoveled up the mail from the day before—delivered late—and scanned it between setting the coffee pot and pretending she was not on the edge of bankruptcy.

"Bills and credit card applications. Just once, I'd like to see a check in here!” She threw the waste of good trees on the counter and slipped into her apron. Next, she washed her hands with the thoroughness a surgeon could admire then readied her stove and ingredients for the donuts.

A flick of the switch on the radio to soft relaxing music and the scent of coffee in the air. That's how she liked it, would always start her day. The thought occurred to her that Cammie had been calling on her cell when she stopped on the walk. Yet, if she was calling out, it was still too late for A'isha to do something about it. “Spilled milk. Spilled milk.” She had many more issues to cry over than Cammie being late or Mr. Stanton not getting his breakfast.

The bell over the door jingled, and Mr. Stanton's stooped figure shuffled in. His pleasure but toothy grin brightened her day a little. “Morning, A'isha, how is my beautiful flower?"

"Good morning, Mr. Stanton. The usual?” She poured his coffee at the counter. Every day for two years they used the same greeting, and every day for twenty he had given the same compliment to her mother. Clearing her throat, she turned away to hide the mist in her eyes. Her mother was gone, but never forgotten. Purely Sweets had been her mother's baby. Now it was hers, and it tore her insides apart knowing she was losing it.

"Yes, the usual, A'isha.” He glanced around. “Where's that apprentice of yours, in the back?"

"Nope, missing in action.” She fished her cell from her bag. Sure enough, the call had come from Cammie. She sighed and put it back, not feeling like hearing the excuse this time. For a woman who claimed she wanted to be a pastry chef, she sure didn't take it seriously. A'isha didn't have the luxury of being picky though, having no formal training beyond her mother. Purely Sweets was small time. “I have to sneak in the back, if you don't mind, Mr. Stanton. Just help yourself to more of those donuts."

He waved a wrinkly, liver-spotted hand. “Go on, dear, I will keep an eye on things."

Blowing him a kiss, she turned and headed into the kitchen. She loved this part of her business, just ignoring the world and baking. Kneading dough, mixing ingredients, even as simple as beating eggs. The therapy in baking a banana bread was heavenly.

At that time of the morning, for no reason, she was in the mood to make some Mississippi mud but had to settle for blackberry muffins. Flour, eggs, milk and sugar all on the table, she popped open the industrial sized refrigerator she adored and brought out her blackberries. The blackberry muffins were a mainstay, the cheap, warm pastry that her customers would snatch up by the dozens, feeling like they weren't being completely bad. She chuckled thinking of it. Later, those same conscientious women and some men would sneak back in to grab a slice or two of her apple pie with all-butter crust.

A grunt escaped her. If she developed more low fat or low sugar recipes, maybe her rear wouldn't be so damn big. Thinking of her rear brought thoughts of Connor to mind. Oh he was hot. She had dated a white man a few years ago, but it had never gotten to anything physical. “But Connor ... Damn, that package was huge,” she mused.

The door burst open. “A'isha, I'm so sorry for being late!” Cammie, with red hair flying every which way, and clothes rumpled as usual, stood unbuttoning layers of clothing. The woman could withstand high temperatures, and unlike anyone else, buried herself in warm clothing even in summer. A'isha imagined she wouldn't get warm enough now that the season was changing. “I called. Did you get my message?"

A'isha didn't address the question. “You do realize how hard it's been lately, Cammie? I can't afford to lose one single order. Not one! And you decide for whatever reason to not open up on time, and to not tell me early enough for me to get in here and do it myself?"

While she shifted out of her extra clothing, Cammie plodded over to the small TV mounted on the kitchen wall and flipped it on. A'isha cringed. The jarring voice of the newscaster invaded her sanctuary. “...police are looking for Selena Goode who was last seen..."

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