Night 5 (The Bake Sale)

Laurel Snyder

It was cold in my town, in the place where I live. Lucy and I were sad, walking beside each other in the cold, not speaking. I wanted her to cry, to finish with tears, but she wouldn’t. The silence was buzzing, a fly trapped in a car. The silence of Lucy not speaking was something being torn too slowly, a piece of thick paper ripping for a year. Finally she walked away.

Alone, I looked at the sidewalk, counted the cracks and felt warm. “It’s only that I’m walking fast” I told myself. But I took off my mittens and my hat, let them fall behind me. I shed my scarf the same way, walking faster. I slipped out of my coat as I felt one boot come unglued, stick in the mud, so I kicked at the other boot, let go.

I was down to my jeans and a little white blouse. My socks were gone and my feet were moving fast. My legs flashed like seconds and my hair shook itself loose and still I was warm, and I thought a flushed thought, thought a laugh and stopped. I stopped to swallow my thought and it was spring.

The trees were somehow green and wet and the sun was warm over the cool breeze and hot on the sidewalk. I was at an intersection, a familiar corner. I walked slowly East, noticing things, and when I came to a sign, I stopped. It said, “Bake Sale.”

I was supposed to meet you. I was supposed to meet you at the Bake Sale. I was five minutes late, and so I ran inside and then a woman said in a hushed voice, “He’s out back dear, through this door, into the garden you go.”

I went into the garden.

There were peonies and morning glories, lilacs and daffodils. The garden was a bower and the bower was for sale, tables covered in icing, covered in blossoms. Sprinkled with sugar and sifted. You were there waiting.

I reached for a cake, grabbed for something to give you and what my fingers found was the smallest cake of all. It was the size of my hand, a little flat circle covered in hard sugar, filled with smaller circles, filled with even smaller circles than that. And inside each of the smallest circles were letters I could barely read. I looked close, looked hard. I stepped toward you with the little cake and you said, “Look again.”

“I know. I know.” I said. Each tiny circle held the smallest letters I had ever seen, written in the finest hand. As though etched, carved with an invisible pin, words again and again, over and over and over. They said, “I am happy I am happy I am happy.” In sugar.