The soft sponge and icing melted in Tia’s mouth. Saliva trickled out the corner and down her chin. Quickly she wiped the back of her hand against her face and glanced around. The other customers sitting at their own tables hadn’t noticed. They were too engrossed in their own conversations.
Deep in her own thoughts, Tia felt her body relax, as her mind wandered to her friend. She started to feel guilty as she thought, maybe she should have taken cake over to her house.
Gripping the dessert fork loosely in her fingers, Tia cut into the cake again, the aroma of coffee reaching her nostrils. Lifting it into the air, her mouth already open, she glanced down.
A long, dark hair was hanging off the fork, the end buried deep in the cake. She definitely wasn't going to take any cake with her now.
“Is everything alright ma’am?”, a voice said.
Quickly, Tia looked up, still holding the fork. The man stared at her, his brown eyes narrowed in concern.
“Oh, I found this in my cake”, she answered, nodding her head at the hair.
The man leant closer to her and the fork, peering closely at the hair before pulling it out and then dropping it on the floor.
“There you go’ he said, running one of his hands through his hair which had escaped its hair tie,’ all sorted”.
He moved back behind the serving counter and was soon out of sight but they could all hear the crashing and banging of pots and pans and plates from the kitchen area. The conversation from the other customers halted.
The lady sitting behind the counter, typing, frowned before leaping up and disappearing into the kitchen. The loud swearing and yells that followed, echoed around.
Several of the customers looked at each other, grinning nervously, before starting to talk quietly again. As quickly and quietly as she could, Tia fished under the table for her handbag, trying to find the strap that had slipped from her knee.
The man marched from the kitchen, pulling his apron off from around his waist and then throwing it at the lady who caught it while a deep blush crept over her face.
“You know where you can stick your job!”, he yelled before slamming the door behind him as he left, causing the glass to crack. The lady looked around at all the customers and grinned sheepishly.
“Sorry about that”, she murmured.
Grasping the strap, Tia slowly stood, pushing the plate with the uneaten cake away from her. The lady glanced at her as she started to leave.
“Thanks’ Tia said, trying to smile,’ it was lovely”, indicating the cake.
The lady opened her mouth, obviously about to apologise but the words never materialised.
Swallowing a lump in her throat which now felt dry, Tia fumbled in her handbag for her mobile as it started to ring and vibrate, shutting the door behind her, avoiding the broken glass.
“Hey’ she said, sliding behind the steering wheel and starting the ignition of her car, as she held the mobile against her ear,’ sorry, I stopped for a slice of cake, you know the coffee cake I love, but I’m on my way”.
Pausing for a breath, she listened to her friend on the other end, nodding her head despite her friend not being able to see her, as she negotiated her way into the traffic.
“No, I’ll be there in a few minutes”.
A red car pulled in front of her. Quickly, she slammed her foot down on the brake, the seat belt digging into her flesh. Her hands gripped the steering wheel tightly, and she dropped the mobile on the floor of the car where it promptly slid out of sight.
The man from the cafe hung out the window of the red car as he continued to race along, but didn’t seem to notice her, instead beeping his car horn at an unsuspecting pedestrian negotiating a crossing.
“It’s okay, you’re okay”, she mumbled to herself taking a few deep breaths. Her hands were shaking and sweaty.
“Hello? Tia? Are you still there? What’s happening?”. Her friends voice on the other end of the mobile was very faint.
Wiping her hands on her clothes, Tia groped under the seat trying to find it but instead found her skin coated with dust, grime and an assortment of crumbs.
“Ugh, gross”, she whispered to herself, trying to dust her hands clean without covering her clothes.
The car behind her beeped it’s horn.
“Alright, alright, I’m moving”, she said, waving one hand in the air.
The traffic started to move again.
“You took your time’ her friend said a few minutes later as she pulled into her driveway,’ I thought you said you’d be here in a few minutes”.
Tia reached out and hugged her friend tightly.
“Are you okay?’ her friend asked,’ you don’t normally hug. And you feel all sweaty”.
In a few sentences, Tia explained what had happened.
“And I didn’t mean to get the man fired!”, she finished saying as they entered her friends spotlessly clean kitchen.
Her friend nodded her head as she switched the kettle on,” He must have had warnings before and the manager had had enough. It’s not your fault”.
“Do you mind if I wash my hands? They’re all grubby”.
“Go for it, you know your way round. I’ll make the drinks”.
Tia washed her hands and splashed some of the cool water on her face, feeling herself relax.
She could hear voices as she entered the kitchen again.
Her friend was talking to some one hidden from sight but turned to face her, a frown between her eyes.
“You’re not the only one having a bad start to the day Tia’ she said nodding towards the other person,’ Dan here has just lost his job”.
“Dan? The new boyfriend no one’s met yet?”, Tia asked, smiling.
Her friend tried to smile back but her face twisted and her expression made her look like she had indigestion.
The other person stepped forwards.
“Hi….’ Tia started to say before her eyes met the gaze of the person’s dark brown eyes, his long hair escaping the hair tie at the nape of his neck.
“Apparently’ he said,’ there was one of my hairs in a piece of cake”.