I was at a bakery looking at a cake. I liked this one. It was a pretty, green colored masterpiece with frosting on top. A shop worker was behind the counter rearranging the cookies. We made eye contact and she came over.
“How much is this cake?”
“Thirty five ninety-nine,” she replied.
“What’s in it?”
“Green tea, fruit, and some cream. It’s very good. You’ll like it.”
“When was it made?”
She thought about it before saying, “Made fresh today, Miss.”
I looked at her for a second and when I saw her eyes I felt uncomfortable with that answer.
“Really? Because I this cake is for tomorrow…but I can’t buy it tomorrow morning because I won’t have time. I need for it to have been made today.”
“Yes, yes. Made today.”
“Actually, I’ll just take a coffee. And that chocolate croissant.”
She rang up my purchase. I took my tray and sat down. I took out my phone and started going through my apps. A youngish Asian family of four was at the next table. The kids were about 11 and 13. The mom was a tired looking woman with creases in her forehead and worn hands. Her face may have been prettier in her younger days. Her slight figure slightly bowed in the direction of who I assumed was her husband. He looked much better. He was obviously older, yet looked more robust and handsome. His hands strong and features still sharp. His graying hair looked well on him. Like a thirty year old wine that still had a ways to go before entering its prime.
She commended the three for coming out. “What a nice Saturday. It’s so nice to finally spend some time together as a family. We are all so busy during the week.”
Disgruntled and sounding annoyed, the thirteen year old said, “Mom where’s my DS? Can’t I play it now? It’s been like 10 minutes.”
She sighed, but pulled out two 3DSs from her oversized black purse and handed it to both of them. They opened the devices and immediately dived into Pokemon x & y. It was like no one else existed for them.
Giving up on those two, she put her hand over his and smiled. “How lucky are we. Two beautiful kids. Two cars, and a house. A beautiful life.”
She needed him to say, “Yes.” She needed him to wholeheartedly agree that the honest life they had built together through hard work and perseverance was indeed what they were both proud to have achieved. She was trying so hard to convince him. But even she was fading away.
He smiled slightly as he stared out the window. Then he looked back into her eyes. “Yes, we are very lucky.”
I took a long sip of coffee. What dreams did they each have before they settled into this life? Was she once a beauty queen who went to Princeton? Did he want the two kids, and house from the very beginning? What did they expect to happen while they were looking each other in the eyes on their wedding day? Did they know what they wanted then? Do they know what they want now. Oh the painful mistakes we make when we don’t know ourselves.
The owner of the shop stopped by their table.
“Sarah, how nice to see you. Look at your beautiful family! Are you enjoying it here?”
“Yes, it is so lovely in your bakery. We’re here for some family time…the kids just love your desserts.”
As they chatted the father checked stocks or something like that on his phone. The kids continued playing. The mother kept word-dancing with her friend. The whole scene went on for a few minutes.
As the owner began to leave she said, “Don’t go yet! Let me pack something up for you.”
I watched as she reached into the window and carefully extracted my green tea cake from its shelf. She boxed it up in a pretty white container and wrapped a pink now around.
“Here you go. It’s our most popular cake.”
“Anna, no need to do that!” said the mother.
“No worries! Another one is coming out soon anyway. This one was made yesterday.”
I left the bakery as the kids were zipping up their jackets while trying to play Pokemon at the same time. I made a mental note. Don’t believe what people say. What they really mean is in their eyes.