"Out of my way!! I'm from Guinness, out of my way!!" The cameras were crowding the bakers, swarming them as if they were sprinkles on a cupcake. They tried to get to the door, tried to sneak their way into the bakery, but the cameras were there too. Eventually, they started throwing cupcakes at the cameras. Through the power of pastry, they banished them to worlds unknown and slunk inside.
"Jeez, all this over a cookie? You guys better prepare yourselves for the big day. I'd suggest bulletproof vests and beekeeper helmets. Of course, that's my preference." Maria, their best friend, as sarcastic as ever.
"We'll need more than that." Stacy groaned, setting down the pounds of cookie dough, made and frozen in clumps for this purpose. "They're like leeches, every one of them." Stacy reclined in her loveseat, letting it hug her legs.
"You didn't even carry half as much as I did, Stace!" Jamie dumped her share of the cookie dough on the table, then proceeded to hoist Stacy out of the chair before plopping down on it himself. "Ahh, why don't we have more of these things? We should at least have two, and then maybe get one for Stacy and you to share." He talked in a teasing way, making faces at Maria and Stacy.
"What the hell, man? You don't own that chair!" Stacy tried to pull him out, but he just laid there and laughed.
"If you can't pull me out of a chair, how are you supposed to cook the biggest cookie in the world?" Jamie swatted at her jokingly.
"Ugh, I need to sleep. Just because we're trying to make the world's biggest cookie doesn't mean we have to be up day and night to bake." Maria was complaining again. Stacy rolled her eyes, but she knew the truth in those words.
"Yeah, the paparazzi sucks, but hey, we knew that going in." Jamie had been baking since fourth grade and Maria and Stacy since fifth. None of them had planned on building the world's biggest cookie. They hadn't even been trying to make big cookies before. Once they discovered the joy of breaking a record, though, they couldn't think of anything else.
"You know what? We're not answering questions tonight," Jamie declared, "but we are going to get some sleep." Maria and Stacy sighed their approval. It used to be so easy to sleep in their quaint little bakery, with the holiday smells always wafting through the air. There were cupcakes around the tables, frosted birthday cakes and gingerbread, all mingling. It was a treasure to behold. In fact, it was a wonder that the three besties hadn't eaten it all already.
"G'night, guys..." Stacy mumbled a reply under her breath and then went out like a light.
It was the big day. The day they had all been waiting for. The day they'd been preparing for for months. Stacy, Jamie, and Maria took turns carting out the pounds of cookie dough. Their arms sank and wilted like dead roses, but they hadn't even spread the dough out yet.
"Mr. Wilkes, Mr. Wilkes! Is it true that you are responsible for all the hard work behind the projects and the girls are for show?" A conceited reporter with a microphone stuck it in Jamie's face.
"What are you talking about? You saw them right now cart dough up the hill, doing the same amount of work as I am, and you have the audacity to call them accessories?" Jamie and Stacy crowded the reporter.
"Why on earth would you think that?" Stacy asked, her words oozing contempt.
"Well... it's... just that... You're girls... and it's a lot of... hard work..." The reporter was stumbling on his words and, upon recognizing his mistake, started stumbling on his feet to get off of the stage.
"Can you believe the nerve of that guy? It was like we weren't even there to him." Maria nodded her agreement, but her main focus was spreading the dough. Her long, lanky arms flexed as she stretched it. Maria was in a hard-fought war against the dough, and the dough was losing.
"Geez, Maria, I've never seen you this energetic!" Jamie was in awe of her grit.
"Well, we have been working towards it for a while, so... Why wouldn't it excite me?" She talked with a gleeful skip in her voice, as if she was a kid going to Disneyland.
"Guys, I want you to know that, no matter what, this experience has been amazing," Jamie spoke only once the dough was all spread out. He truly loved the women. Not as romantic objects, but as equals and friends. They had sweated and got through this together, and they would finish it together.
"3... 2... 1...!" Joining hands, they pushed it into the oven and hugged.
"We did it!!" Stacy was ecstatic. Jamie wasn't far behind. Maria, though, wasn't excited at all.
"Guys, I don't think we did." Just then, fire rose up from the oven, exploding and sending everyone backward. Jamie and Stacy pushed through the rubble, fighting to find their friend.
"Maria!! MARIA!!!" They yelled over and over again, but it was no use. She was gone.
"We are called here today to commemorate the life of Maria Mendoza, a woman determined to achieve her goals against all odds and adversity." The droll of the priest's voice blurred into the background. Jamie was the only one left. He lay there, tears streaming down his once flour-covered cheeks. Stacy was gone. Maria was dead. He had no friends anymore. Only pain.
Eventually, when the time came to make his speech, he forced his limbs to climb up the steps. He forced himself to face the pain. Jamie clung to that podium as if it was the only thing that kept him tethered to the Earth. When he let go, Jamie would have to find something else to hold on to. That was how pain works, though. You process it by holding on to what you can when you can. Jamie was almost out of things to hold on to.
"I... was trying to make the World's biggest cookie. We were, actually, Stacy, Maria, and I. We had been friends forever, and always together. Maria was one of my favorite people in the world, and I knew she felt the same about Stacy and me. We were her family. Do... do you know what it feels like to lose your family. I lost her. I can't change that. I wish I could but I know I can't. I know that it might seem selfish that I want her back, but I do. I don't care if it's selfish, because I'm wishing it anyway. She didn't deserve this. She doesn't. I'm going to take comfort in the knowledge that she is still alive in me and Stacy, wherever Stace is right now. Unless you want to keep her memory alive, you are no relation of hers."
Jamie walked off the stairs and held his breath, all the way until the ride home. He didn't... couldn't breathe. When he got back to the bakery, his eyes warmed.
"What're you waiting for, Jamie, we saved you the loveseat!" Stacy was patting him on the back and munching on a cupcake.
"He's not taking my spot. You may have saved him a seat but I certainly didn't." Maria was there, sarcastic as ever.
"I thought you guys left me." He choked on his words, like a pill that was too big to swallow.
"We'll never leave you, man. We might not be next to you or even on the same continent as you, or may even be dead. But we'll never leave you."