Tucked in a back alley, running parallel to the main road was where she worked. Here, she’d just graduated from Dishwasher to Deep Fryer. Into the fryer she dipped countless Snickers bars, the most popular item on the sticky, plastic-covered menus, sandwiched between the mustard and ketchup squeeze bottles.
She hated the deep fryer. Despite how hard she tried, the smell of oil never left her hair or skin. It seeped into her pores, hunkering down, so her clean linens and freshly laundered clothes all smelt like too-many-times-used-days-old oil.
Nowadays, life was little more than getting by. Work, eat, sleep, repeat.
Most mornings, on her way to work, the girl avoided walking past this café. Pretending the smell of fresh coffee and buttery pastries didn’t make her stomach gnaw at itself was impossible. But today, the fresh almond croissants – her favourite – turned her feet into lead. The woman behind the counter, setting out the pastries, caught her staring. Embarrassed, the girl forced her feet to move, but from the corner of her eye, a movement arrested her. The woman was beckoning her in. Mortified, her hands moved like windshield wipers. No, no! But the woman waved insistently.
‘Come’, she mouthed.
The bell above the door jangled and she winced at its loudness.
“Here! On the house!”
Smiling, the woman slid a croissant across the counter. Almonds, sliced thin, adorned the top of the pastry; a few fell onto the plate with a soft tinkle.
The girl ate it slowly, trying to imprint the pastry – flaky, softly sweet, slightly salty – into her memory. When she was done, she remembered the leaf tucked inside her bag. The day before, she’d found it on the side of the street, lonely, but brilliantly yellow against the grey stones.
Before the woman could return from the kitchen, the girl put the plate, now holding the leaf, on the counter. The bell jangled once more, bringing the woman back out, but the girl was already gone.
The woman picked up the leaf. On it, in flowing script, she read, “Your kindness is like that croissant – beautiful!”.
This is a photo-story project I am challenging myself to do this year.
I want to write tiny stories – 350-words (or fewer) that somehow weave the image presented into the plot.
Join me if you like. :))
(‘the croissant’ is exactly 350 words 🙂 )
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