The girl was a good for nothing nobody. That was obvious just from the way she asked for, and ordered, her food. There was a twitch to her lips and that nervous hand movement that gave her away. She had learned from years of working behind the counter to spot them.
In reality, she couldn’t do much about those tramps that thought they fit in with the proper society. All that was left to her was to scowl at the tables and snap at the limp girl that was running the tables to do her job properly. The thing was weak and skinny, far too much so. She had come in asking for a job and almost crying. That was one of the things that were so detestable. Tears and begging were not viewed highly by anyone here.
It was all fine and acceptable in books and stories. In the dream lives girls who were wealthy and could afford to, lived in. The damsel in distress, the poor princess, the delicate flower broken by the evil stepmother, these were all acceptable if you could get out. She supposed these stories had to have happened, had to come from somewhere. There was always a grain of truth in the most ridiculous high tales.
She was well aware that the back of a grimy bakery held nothing remotely romantic in its confines. The fire was always lit, there was always fresh beverages brewing, ready to be flitted away to a waiting customer. Her pastries sold out everyday and she had to admit that on the other side of the counter things did look fine. Indeed, she kept up that notion herself. Much like any other restaurant on the bust streets, she provided her customers with a cheery atmosphere and good food, fairly priced.
She kept the place spotless and once a week in the evenings she rented out some fiddler or the like to entertain her guests with music. She smiled and cooed at children that came in with their parents. She gave away sweets when they pleased her with a smile or laugh. She worked hard on the friendly atmosphere and was satisfied with the results.
What she couldn’t stand were those young girls and men who she could tell had more on their hands than she herself did. It ruined her already delicate mood, and she was prone to go into fits of anger. She took to the back then, taking out her stress on already kneaded dough, or scrubbing out something that didn’t need it.
It was always hot in the back. Summer of winter, the bakery area and storage were bustling with about two to three girls that did their utmost to please her. They never did. She supposed she was their wicked stepmother, and she saw it in their eyes sometimes. They hated her, but needed the money and despite her cutting remarks and an occasional cuff on the head, she had some respect for them. They reminded her of herself; long ago. She had since then become one with the dough that she was now rolling.
The soft lump beneath her hands spilled this way and that, depending on the pressure she put on it. Much like her own body, it was deformed and pale, and she couldn’t come to terms with herself. The nights she had the courage, she would stand in front of the standing mirror adjacent to her bed and wish fervently that the candlelight would transform her into what she once was.
That never worked. She would weep to herself and watch the lines left by her tears glisten on her fat cheeks, making them appear even more disgusting. She’d run from the hated thing swearing that she’d never again look into it only to come back the evening after.
Sometimes she wondered if making deals with the devil worked. Maybe if she switched her landlord (as she saw it) would produce desirable results. But she was frightened that it would; those nights she wouldn’t look into the mirror, afraid to see something more.
She was standing in the cool inside of the cafeteria, looking out onto the sunny patio, a deep frown on her face as she looked on the woman and man talking to her. Wasn’t it funny, she thought – a baker and a philosopher?
The umbrellas coloured the many faces that were bustling around the many tables. The girl’s face looked a bit disfigured; the man was obviously no one to be trusted. She considered for a moment if she should throw him out? Offer her a position?
No, that would not do. She was too pretty after all.
She retreated back into her place behind the counter and observed the man handing the girl a paper. She really ought not look, but she should tell him to leave. Oh, no need now, he got up and left himself. What about her? The girl looked paler, fidgeting even more so now. She could feel her irritation rise in her like bile. She turned into the back to torment her own girls. When she came back out again, the wretched creature was gone.
She breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps she really should offer her a job…