Mother’s Day, and I stood in line, a gray wool sweater and frayed jeans gawking at florals and sandals ornate. I go to church, but earlier than those coming out.
My Corner Bakery gives discounts to those working in the outlets nearby. But I told the cashier “no” when he offered me a discount. He thought I snapped handcuffs on kids two years younger every Friday evening. I told him “no,” pulling out my employee badge as that never hurts.
I sat at a table for two, staring into the sheet of glass immediately reminding me I really should find another moisturizer. It wasn’t colored, like the ones in confession booths.
I had never eaten at Corner Bakery, and even with the discount, I appraised my meal halfheartedly. Denny’s with diced avocado. There was never shame in trusting Denny’s, but only during high school. Venture to the city thirty minutes away, and people complain of weak coffee and microwaved eggs. It’s been a while since I deigned to verify.
Originally, I came to drop off a package, and the time neared to make my delivery. But they were behind with espressos, so my iced chocolate truffle had yet to be made. Poured, stirred, shaken. Incubated. Wait. Why incubated? I ordered it iced.
Usually, I fail to specify. The girl who bewildered the ladies at the college coffeeshop when I asked for an iced white mocha in twenty-nine degree weather. I took my cup with purple mittens.
The customer was waiting, and the drink wasn’t out. So I dashed to the grocery store two lots down, gave her what she ordered two weeks before, and sprinted back, apologizing to women in daffodil hats and chartreuse shawls. The men appeared bored, neither hungry nor hassled.
Apologizing too was the girl, prioritizing smoothies while the espresso machine slept. She asked if I was allergic to soy milk. I told her “no” and she offered to compensate. I told her of my love for soy, that really it was nothing, and I liked the way the chocolate spread out like an ink blot on pastel napkins.
Three lots down was a Michael’s. I knew the shoe store by Corner Bakery wouldn’t allow my drink, but Michael’s didn’t have such signs.
Now, everyone at Michael’s has children. I don’t. A third of my friends do. Or they’re going to.
I’ve got a quirky habit of whispering loudly. Often, the words are nonsensical. Why I murmured “Laurie” in a craft store isn’t a topic for explaining.
But Laurie sat in the shopping cart, quiet, discerning, in lack of want.
I fooled no one, but I caught onto my awful joke. I took out a napkin, wiped the water rolling down from the lid. Just as I would with slobber, from an organic replica of myself that has yet to be made.
And yes, I felt guilty taking a sip. I’ll feel the same when my real child hops off the bus, fingers readily concealing red Starbursts.