The Baker

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Photo by Vaibhav Jadhav on

The murals of human clouds. Bakers in bakeries thinking of what it would be like to not have to wake up so early. What would it be like not to have to press out into the day when the sun has barely begun to breathe, and the world is painted a worrying, cold blue.

He moves along the sidewalks on Huron Street. Those gray linear sidewalks, pathways to the chores of life, pathways to work, pathways back home. Some of the cement squares are buckled by tree roots pushing up from below. For they want life, too. They do not want to be merely trampled upon by the egregious notions of men, woman, children, politics, war…

His hands are stuffed deep in coat pockets. His breath shoots out, lingers with the cold, and creates his own brand of human fog. He stops a block from the bakery. He looks up and down the street… Michigan Avenue. A few cars sputter by in the growing icicle dawn. The entire world feels encased in cold. Instead of turning right to go the bakery, he turns left and walks toward the lake. The big lake. The lake that bred life here. The lake that made this town so many years ago.

He stops at a 24-hour diner. He decides to have coffee and a sweet roll. A sweet roll most likely made by someone he knows. The place is mostly quiet. There is the periodical clanging of cups of plates in the back. There is some soft talking. Someone is rustling a newspaper and clearing their throat. A new day of life. But why? He wonders. He sips. He takes a bite. He places his hand to his heart, and it is still somehow beating. Why?

He puts money on the table and bundles up. He pulls his knit winter hat from a pocket and straps it to his head. He makes sure he covers his ears, so they won’t freeze to death and just fall off. He needs to hear things. He needs to hear the lull of the lake waves as they drift across its own body on its way to touch the shore. He pulls on gloves. He brings the zipper of his coat to the very top, turns up the protective collar. He smiles at someone, nods his head. “Thanks,” he says, and he walks out the door. His nostrils fill with cold air. He walks east.

He stands on the frozen sand of the shore and looks out at the water. It looks incredibly cold. He is beginning to feel incredibly old. He ticks off his lifelong accomplishments in his head and is unimpressed. But still. What are accomplishments if they cannot be shared with the absolute perfect love of your life? he thinks. His eyes reach out across the dark gray waters as far as they can go. There is no other side. It is like looking at an ocean except it isn’t an ocean.

The funeral will be in two or three days. He isn’t sure he can take it. She is everything to him. He never figured he would ever have to utter the words, to explain to anyone why there was no one by his side… But she is suddenly gone. Like a lightning strike. He misses her terribly. He suspects the terminal ache will never pass. How will he ever be able to go on in this sort of a world without her. Where will he live? He can’t. It will all be too much.

Then someone touches him on the shoulder. He turns and there she is. His love beyond love. She is slightly opaque but glowing. She is beautiful. She is alive on the other side. But which side? She smiles as she looks at him through the plastic barrier. He can see the love in her crystal ocean eyes. Her lips move. “I’ll never leave you. Even now. I love you.”


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4 responses to “The Baker”

  1. The Breath of Los Angeles - Cereal After Sex - Short Story Avatar

    […] Check out the latest post at my companion site, Blowtorch Pastoral: The Baker. […]


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    […] Check out the latest post at my companion site, Blowtorch Pastoral: The Baker. […]


  3. Bruce @ walkingoffthechessboard Avatar

    On an early morning like that, someone in that situation couldn’t feel any more alone…until then! Hope where no hope existed.

    Liked by 1 person

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