So the idea for this story came about when my best friend was telling me about a cake she had bought for a friend. I started building on the idea and decided it would make a cute short story. I know this isn't anywhere near Thanksgiving, but I really love the holiday and Christmas seemed a little overused. Just give it five minutes and you'll understand what the hell I'm babbling on about :D.
This isn't going to be very long. Three chapters at the most. I finished writing it, but there's still some stuff I want to edit and rewrite. I'll try to get this out as fast as I can.
Comments and opinions would be very appreciated :)
"I… I don't get it," she sobbed.
I sighed and nodded even though she couldn't see me. Then, shutting my eyes and placing my forehead in the palm of my hand, I tried to think of something- anything- I could say to make my best friend feel better.
"I know, I know. Meg... Sweetie… He's just… He's just an asshole, okay?"
I heard her sniffle, trying to collect herself. "But… But it was 8 months, Riles! And he blew me off, ended it, like I was nothing!" That thought must've set her off again, because Megan broke down once more. Her incoherent words were near impossible to decipher over the phone.
"I know," I said softly. "But Meg, don't think about him. He's not worth your time. You don't need him."
I got onto my bed and sat cross-legged on top of the covers. I could hear that Megan was trying to calm herself down on the other end of the call. She would take a deep breath, hold it in for a couple seconds, and then let it out in the form of a sob. I waited patiently, absentmindedly twirling the telephone cord around my finger.
After a couple minutes, no sound came from the earpiece except for some distressed breathing and a few hiccoughs.
"Riley," Meg said finally. "Can you stay over tonight?"
"Of course I can."
"We can order Chinese or something," she suggested.
"Alright, sure. I'll bring movies and stuff, too. What time?"
"Okay," I replied. "I just have to run a few errands first, mmk?"
"Uh… Yeah, I'll take…" I glanced quickly through the glass on the display counter, "that one. The vanilla one." I began digging through my bag, searching for the green change purse I kept my money in. "Thanks," I added.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the glass behind the display case slide open. The cake I had chosen was placed on the white countertop above.
"Would you like anything written on it?" the employee asked me.
"Hmm?" I asked distractedly, my face still buried in my knapsack, looking through the mess of useless objects for my purse.
"You know… Happy birthday, congratulations-so-and-so?"
"Found it," I muttered. Grabbing the pouch and unzipping it, I took out a 20 dollar bill. "Yeah…Do you think you could write something along the lines of 'boys suck'?"
For the first time since I had entered the bakery, I glanced up at the boy who was helping me. The first thing I noticed about him was his lanky stature. Even though he looked somewhere around my age, he was taller by at least six inches. He stood with his hands in the pockets of his jeans, making him look slouched.
His hair was brown; no longer than his eyebrows and carelessly spiked so it looked unintentionally messed up. The green apron he wore, with the words "The Cookie Jar Bakery" and a logo of a doughnut, brought out the bright green color of his eyes.
It was then that I noticed, however, that one of his eyebrows was raised as he stared at me curiously.
I mirrored his expression, slowly shaking my head as if asking him why he was looking at me like that. "Oh!" he exclaimed, snapping out of his daze and grabbing the icing tube off of the counter. "You were serious?"
I nodded, shrugging a shoulder. "Yeah, unless you've got anything better…?"
"Actually, you're out of luck," he said, folding back the top of the box. He tilted his head to the side, deciding where on the cake he would put the words. "We just ran out of 'Down with the Male Species' cakes yesterday."
I laughed. The boy glanced up from the cake for a split second, shooting me a smile before he looked back down to continue writing.
"There," he said, tilting the cake towards me. The words I had requested were written across the cake in neat, cursive blue frosting. I beamed and nodded in approval.
"Okay. That comes to…" Wandering over to the register, he pressed a few buttons and the drawer shot open with a ding! "$16.32."
In exchange for the twenty dollar bill I handed him, the cake was slid towards me across the counter and the change was dropped into the palm of my hand. "Thanks," I muttered, glancing at his nametag. "Travis," I added.
"Yep. No problem…" His voice faded out while he waited for me to respond.
"Right. Riley. Well, good luck with your chick's night in or whatever." Travis offered me another smile.
"How'd you know?" I asked, cocking an eyebrow.
He shrugged. "Eh, just figured."
When Megan opened the door, she looked like she was doing better. Sure, her straight hair was thrown up into a messy bun and she wore baggy pajama pants, but at least she didn't look like she had been crying recently.
Meg offered me a smile and stepped to the side so I could walk in. I threw my pillow and backpack onto the floor next to the couch. "Alright. So I've got chick flicks, bored games, and vanilla; your favorite." I pushed the cake towards Megan, who glanced at it through the clear covering of plastic on top of the box. A grin spread across her face. "'Boys suck'? Oh God, Riles… Tell me you didn't ask them to write that..."
I nodded proudly. "Sure did. Now the guy at the bakery thinks I'm a feminist or something; all for hating the opposite sex."
Meg laughed at this, gratefully taking the cake and heading towards the kitchen. I followed after her. "Thanks so much, Riles. You're seriously the best." She opened the freezer door and balanced the cake on top of some boxes of frozen vegetables. "We'll totally pig out on this after we eat, okay?"
I nodded, sliding a stool out so I could take a seat at her island counter.
She wandered over to the phone, grabbing the address book with all the phone numbers in it on the way over. Meg didn't have to ask me what I wanted; she ordered sesame chicken for herself and beef with broccoli for me. She also got a pint of fried rice with the delivery, which, as always, we would split.
Meg and I watched movies all night, playing a few bored games in between. By the end of the night, she seemed to be in better spirits. Her mind was off her ex-boyfriend for the time being. With cold Chinese food and a half of a melted ice-cream cake on the coffee table in her living room, we fell asleep sometime around 3 AM.
My old white station wagon screeched to a stop in the parking lot of the strip mall. I glanced up to see that the "We're open" sign was still hanging on the door of the bakery. I sighed in relief. It was a miracle they hadn't closed yet; at 4:00 on Thanksgiving Day, just about every other store in the strip mall was dark and locked up. And, as always, I had procrastinated things until the last second.
I grabbed my bag off the passenger seat, threw my keys in, and shut the car door behind me with my foot. The second I stepped onto the curb, my phone started to buzz in my pocket. The caller ID told me it was my mother.
"Hello?" I asked, continuing to walk towards the bakery.
"Riley…?" Her voice sounded cautious.
"Yeah. Hi Mom. How's it going? You on your way home?"
My mother had been on a business trip in Pennsylvania for the past few days. The plan was that she was going to be back by Thanksgiving. She'd swing by the supermarket on the way home, grab a turkey and some potatoes, and cook dinner for the two of us. I was in charge of getting the dessert.
There was a pause on the other end. "Riles, I'm so sorry…"
"Why?... What's wrong?"
She sighed. "My boss… He scheduled another meeting for tonight. It's important, Riles… My job depends on my being here. I can't be home until tomorrow."
I quit walking and stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk. "But what about Thanksgiving?" I asked.
"I know, I'm so sorry… But I promise I'll make this up to you. We'll have our own Thanksgiving dinner when I get home. A turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the whole nine yards…:"
I let out a soft sigh and tried not to sound disappointed. "Alright," I said.
I decided it wasn't too much of a big deal. It was usually just the two of us for holidays, anyway. I was an only child, my father didn't live with us anymore, and my mom's side of the family lived across the country in Arizona, so there was no need to get too into celebrating. On holidays, my mother and I usually just had a simple and quiet sit-down dinner.
Earlier in the week, Meg and I had been thinking of combining our families for Thanksgiving dinner this year, but that plan was shot down, as well, when it was decided that Meg was going upstate to visit her cousins over the four-day break.
"Thanks for understanding, Riles, and I really am sorry," my mother apologized.
"It's no problem. Really," I assured her. "Good luck with your meeting."
"Alright. I'll see you tomorrow. Love you."
"Love you, too. Bye." I flipped my phone shut and pushed it back into the pocket of my jeans.
I turned back around to retreat back to my car when I caught a glimpse of the bakery in front of me.
Well, I'm already here, I decided. Might as well pick something up anyway.
The little bell on the top of the door rung out when I stepped into the bakery. The few employees that stood behind the counter looked utterly exhausted. A woman with three white pastry boxes piled one on top of the other dashed past me, nearly knocking me over in her frenzy to get where she needed to be. People came in and out of the bakery, picking up last-minute pies and cookies.
I glanced at the pie section of the display counter. It was almost completely bare. The tags that read, "Apple pie" and "Pumpkin pie" had nothing but empty shelves behind them. I found myself feeling slightly relieved for the change of plans; had I still been in charge of picking up dessert for Thanksgiving dinner, my only choice would have been the last cherry pie sitting on the shelf. My mother hated cherries more than anything.
Suddenly, the back of the display case opened and four freshly baked pies (two apple and two pumpkin) were slid onto the shelves. I was surprised when I looked up to see Travis. After putting down the dishrag that had been the barrier between his hand and the scalding pie pans, he glanced at me and offered a smile.
Butterflies forced their way into my stomach. For a reason that was unknown to me, our brief encounter about two weeks before had been gnawing at my mind. Since the night I bought Meg's cake and first met Travis, I often found myself thinking about him.
"Hi. Can I help you?"
I sighed inwardly. He didn't remember me.
Of course he wouldn't, I decided. Hundreds of people come in here every week, and I'm sure he's gotten stranger requests than "boys suck." There was no reason for me to have stuck out in his mind.
"No, not yet… Just looking. Thanks." I brought my attention back down to the food behind the glass. As I walked along the display counter, I tried to decide what I wanted.
I stopped at the chocolate éclairs. They had been my favorite when I was a kid. I hadn't had one in years, though.
"Now those would be a bit difficult to write on." Travis had wandered over to where I was standing. With his arms crossed over the counter, he followed my gaze onto the pastries. "However, if you'd like me to attach a toothpick to a little piece of paper that says, 'Thanksgiving is for squares,' I will gladly do so."
I broke out into a grin. So he did remember me. "Man… I ask for one slightly pessimistic message on a cake, and now I'm forever labeled in your mind as a menacing, negative bitch."
Travis laughed and shook his head. "Nah, I'm just messing with you… Riley, right? Or am I mistaken…?"
"No, no… You're right. It's Riley."
"Really?" Travis raised an eyebrow, looking taken back. "I'm usually terrible with names…"
It was then that we heard someone to the right of us clear their throat. An older woman stood staring at us with an ominous look. Her foot tapped impatiently on the tiles as her finger-nails made an irritating noise on the countertop. "If you two are done flirting, I'd like to get home sometime before Easter. You know, I'm a regular customer here. I come here at least twice a week for coffee in the morning, and I would think that someone who contributes this much to a business should receive some decent service once in a-"
"Sorry, ma'am. What can I help you with?" Travis asked, cutting her rant short. I was glad he took a few steps away from me to help the woman. Otherwise, he would have seen that my face was turning bright red.
After a couple minutes of inwardly debating between the custard éclair and the whipped cream one, Travis let out a tired sigh that told me he was back. "Okay. I don't care if that woman buys four pots of coffee from us and then some. She is a huge pain in my ass." He leaned over the display case once again, casually putting his arms on top of the counter. "So anyway, what can I get you?"
"Think I've decided on the custard éclairs," I said.
how many do you need? A dozen or so?"
I laughed. "Barely. I'll take one."
Travis raised an eyebrow. "Oh… I just figured cause, you know, everyone's picking up dessert and stuff for Thanksgiving dinner. I think you're the first single order I've gotten all day." He slid the tray out and grabbed the éclair with a piece of waxed paper.
"Hah. Yeah, well… As of now, my Thanksgiving sort of looks like a frozen dinner, my TV screen and an early night."
Travis looked up from the red string, but his fingers continued to wind it skillfully around the white box. "You mean you're spending Thanksgiving alone?"
I shrugged. "Better than spending it looking at the inside of a bakery," I pointed out.
He laughed, bringing the box over to the cash register. "For your information, I am not spending my Thanksgiving inside this damn bakery. My shift ends in…" Travis turned around to look at the clock. He furrowed his eyebrows. "four minutes ago."
I grinned, rolling my eyes. Taking a five dollar bill out, I slid it across the counter towards the register. Travis shook his head and pushed it back to me. "My treat. Happy Thanksgiving."
Shaking my head, I tried once more to make him take the money, but he refused. "Don't worry about it."
I sighed in exasperation and stood with my arms crossed and my weight unevenly distributed between my feet. Travis grinned. "You can stand there all day if you want," he offered. Untying his apron, he pulled it over his head and tossed it over a chair behind the counter. "But I'm getting out of here."
After grabbing his jacket, he walked around the counter and headed for the door. "I'm going now! I'll see ya, Tony," Travis yelled.
A muffled reply, which I assumed belonged to his manager, came from the back room. "Okay, bye! Happy Thanksgiving!"
I held my ground, only pivoting around so I was facing Travis and the glass door leading to the sidewalk. "You coming?" Travis asked over his shoulder.
"Gah!" I muttered. Frustrated, I grabbed the pastry box and the five dollar bill off of the counter and hurried to catch up to him.
"You're a bit annoying, you know that?... But thank you."
Travis looked over and grinned down at me as we walked. It was difficult to keep up with his long strides. His hands were shoved into his pockets, keeping them hidden from the cold, late-autumn air. "Yeah, I know. And no problem."
By coincidence, his car was parked next to mine in the parking lot. I waved as he walked around his trailblazer towards the driver's side.
After placing the box on the roof of my car, I stood next to the closed door, searching for my keys in my bag. I stole a quick glance at him over the top of my station wagon. Travis reached for his car handle, but then he hesitated as if he was thinking about something. He pulled his hand back and turned around to face me.
"Hmm?" I looked up from my bag, as if I hadn'tbeen sneaking glances at him at all.
"Why don't you spend Thanksgiving with me?"
I could feel my cheeks flushing. I smiled, but shook my head and dropped my gaze to the gravel beneath my feet. "No… I couldn't. But thank you."
"Aw, and why not? C'mon, Riley… I promise your TV won't miss you much." An incredible grin spread across his mouth. "My mom always makes this huge dinner every year…. She's an unbelievable cook. And you'll get to meet my cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles…"
I raised an eyebrow. "Are you serious? Woah… Thanksgiving at my house is usually no more than two people. Three if my mother has a current boyfriend."
Travis shrugged. "It's a big event at my house… My family gets a little too into it… But hey, it's a lot of fun; I promise. What do you say?"
"I really, really appreciate it, but…" I shook my head again. "But don't worry about me, okay? You barely know me, and I don't want to intrude on your family's holiday."
"But you're not intruding! You were invited… My cousins bring their friends all the time, and my mom won't care… Believe me, she makes enough food to feed an army."
"Travis, I'd… I'd feel awkward, you know? I mean, what're you gonna say? 'This is Riley; I don't know much about her, but I pitied her because she was going to be watching Thanksgiving specials alone all night on TV, so here she is'."
Travis sighed and leaned his arms on my car, locking his gaze with mine from over the roof of the old station wagon. "What if I told you that I wanted you there? This isn't a pity offer… I wouldn't have invited you if I didn't want you to come."
I made the mistake of glancing into his green eyes. At first I thought he was just being polite by inviting me, but his eyes told me that he was being genuinely sincere about what he said.
"C'mon, Riley… What do you say? Please?"
Thanks for reading :) Reviews would be great.