“Will you be my Valentine?!”
I placed the banner with much difficulty in front of the sop. But honestly I kept telling my dad we don’t need a banner because if it’s the Valentines week, we would get customers. Some turn up around 11pm asking for treats. As a person who has been single for her entire 22 years of life and as a person who’s obsessed with confectionary more than love or dating, I sometimes wonder what it would feel like to fall in love and find that person who’s your forever. Thoughts aside, I’m unfortunately too busy to even think.
Ever since I was a kid I give up around my parents who played with confectionary. For every birthday my mom would bake and make all kinds of sweets in the world and spoil me and my dad. They started small and built brick by brick to build Casey’s and since then it has been there forever place. After high school I permanently started working here and my parents had to force me to apply for a college even. Well obviously I’m going to a culinary college because that’s my passion and I’ve never even thought about any other opportunities.
“Casey, stop day dreaming and call Kevin to come, we are understaffed here!!!!!”
My dad’s voice vibrated through my ears and with a pout I ran towards the rest area to find Kevin. He’s my best friend, my partner-in- crime. We’ve been friends even before we were born as our parents are best buddies. Well I’m lying, I couldn’t stand him at all specially in high school because girls would either run after me just to give me love letters (not for me duh! At least I would’ve felt happy if I got one) to give to him. I don’t see what girls see in him but here’s a secret, whenever he brings a girl on Friday night he would use MY room as his room was a mess (we’re neighbors!) and I would secretly sneak into his room and sleep. More like make sure his parents won’t suspect that he’s not at home. Whenever I go to my room the next day a naked girl would scream and run out carrying a bunch of clothes. No wonder I kept missing clothes. I opened the rest room and found him half-naked which didn’t surprise me at all as except when he’s front, he’s always without a shirt walking everywhere like he owns the place.
“Case, can you at least knock?”
“why would I? Dad’s calling you to the front,” with that I turned around on my heels before he could see me blushing. I’m not surprised but I can’t stop myself from getting a nosebleed whenever I see him like that.
My job at Casey’s was pretty much stressful. My mom thinks that’s the best job one could find but I tend to differ as I have to keep running back and forth. Usually I manage the shop alone and Kevin’s sometimes turn up when he’s in need of pocket money. My parents go on trips during the off-season as we don’t have that many customers during those times and I could pretty much manage baking several cupcakes, cakes and even making chocolates. Unlike during Christmas or New Year, Valentines week brings a different atmosphere. We would decorate the whole shop with fancy red stuff and we have a whole bunch of roses always in stock to give out to the pretty ladies who visit. That was my dad’s idea as according to my mom, my dad always used to give her roses. Well, he still does it whenever he gets the chance to show off his love. Sometimes I feel jealous looking at them all lovey-dovey and wonder whether I will ever find someone like my dad.
“Honey, we got an urgent order for a Three-tier rainbow cake with this design” handing me a drawing, my mom added, “I’ll help here, can you make it?”
My mom cut her hand pretty badly yesterday and she had to get several stitches. So of course I would make the cake without letting her near the kitchen until her would is healed hundred percent. I took a quick glance at the drawing and realized it was almost like a wedding cake. People don’t usually order three-tier cakes from us unless it’s for an engagement or for a wedding. This part of the town, we are famous for single-tier cakes. We bakers put lot of effort into designing the cakes rather than for the baking. Why? Because most of us have been baking since we were kids and for us it’s like a skill we’ve already mastered. I one the other hand prefers, to put my effort into both the baking and the designing as it’s something I enjoy. For me, every measurement I make and I sprinkle I put makes up a story in my head. People would think I’m crazy but I personally create this story in my head which lets me to enjoy. Sometimes I would think of a girl jumping to the mixture ball through the flour and swimming around smiling or I would imagine a whale happily flowing down when I put the eggs. Crazy isn’t it?
“Your smiling, what did you imagine with the sugar?”
I looked up to see Kevin smiling at me, leaning to the wall arms-crossed. I know he thinks I’m crazy but he’s obviously curious to know. So whenever we end up working together he always asks me what did I imagine. With a shrug I continued, because I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I saw a couple making out under an umbrella to keep the sugar away from getting them. I could hear him chuckle behind me.
“So what are your orders ma’am?”
“put the cakes in to the oven for now and then help me to cut the cakes into heart shapes. I should’ve bought heart shaped molds but I forgot, so we have to cut.”
Without a word he got into his work and I finished mixing the final batch and put it to the tray behind me. To make things easier, we have a U shaped table in kitchen which makes it really helpful when I have to do several things at once. Right after Kevin put the last tray into the oven, I told him to start making the icing and to get some heart shaped candies from the front as we’ll be needing those, while I started kneading the fondant to make the figures. It was a couple kissing and it was for an anniversary. So I had to give my best to make everything beautiful and didn’t have time to allow for mistakes. Figuring I don’t have enough flour, I quickly went to pantry and took a new bag of flour and carried it to the table. But as I was so focused on trying to untie the knot, I bumped into Kevin. He was taken back suddenly but caught me right on time before I hit my head on the edge of the steel table. We both fell to the ground with a loud ‘thud’ and Kevin groaned in pain. The flour sprinkled everywhere. I tried to get up but Kevin pulled me back to him. I was shocked that I didn’t have time to think or protest when he suddenly turned me around and placed me to the ground so he was on top of me.
“Kevin what ar--”
Before I could finish he crashed his lips in to me and I could feel his hand around my waist getting tighter. I didn’t know what was happening but I was uncomfortable and I could feel tears stinging my eyes. Returning to the reality I pushed Kevin off of me with all my strength and ran out of the kitchen covering my mouth. I locked myself inside the rest room and cried. I didn’t even know why I was crying or making a big deal out of a kiss. Kevin and I have been friends for a long time even when I couldn’t stand him and it’s not the first time he kissed me. He did kiss me twice, once he was drunk and the other time because of a bed. But this time something inside me broke and I could feel my whole body getting hot. It wasn’t even my first kiss but I knew, more like I felt. It was different. It was simply different and I didn’t know if I should feel happy or angry or even sad. There was a knock on the door and I heard him calling my name. I didn’t dare to open the door and let him see me. Not right now. Not when I’m like this. I tried to put my thoughts together but it was a mess and my heart was drumming in my ears. I couldn’t shake off this weird feeling that I couldn’t put into words. But I couldn’t stay inside the room because I had to finish making the cake and I’m already behind. Ignoring the weird voices inside my head, I splashed a cup full of cold water and went out without wiping my face. At least then I had an excuse to tell as to why my face was red.
The shop was filled with customers and before going back to the kitchen I helped my parents. Doing my best to ignore the nonstop beating of my heart, I packed chocolates, cookies, and a cake for one customer and helped another to choose candies and sweets to take away. When I couldn’t avoid the kitchen anymore I went back taking a huge breath. Kevin was kneading the fondant and trying to make the figures but he was clearly failing. After-all he sucks at designing more than me. When he saw me he tried to say something but I interrupted him and said, “Kevin next time you try to kiss me for a joke or for a bet tell me in advance,” and I jokingly slapped his arm and told him to make the icing.
For the next six hours and until we finished making the cake and packing it, he was silent. He didn’t say a single word, which was so unusual as he’s the person who sometimes doesn’t know when to shut up. He helped me to put the cake inside the customer’s car and after that he simply disappeared. My dad asked me to give him the pay check as it’s Valentines tomorrow, but he was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t at the rest room, the kitchen, the café or even at home. I felt bad for brushing the kiss off easily even when I knew it was different but I didn’t want to expect anything. Yes, I have been single all my life but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have any crushes. As far as I can remember I liked Kevin, more than a friend. I just didn’t have the courage to confess. Maybe because I was scared, scared that I might get hurt, scared that I wouldn’t be able to smile like my mom does. I always expected the disappointment so I didn’t have to go home and cry buckets whenever I saw him holding the hand of another girl.
Casey’s is my home. Many classmates asked me whether they can do part-time in the shop to earn pocket money but I just brushed them off because I didn’t want them to invade my home. But I let Kevin come, more than that I liked when it was just the two of us on the shop as we would be joking around while working. The reason I cried when he kissed me wasn’t because I was exactly sad but because I was scared that I would expect something from him and get hurt.
It was around 11.30 pm and my parents went home, which is upstairs of the shop and let me clean up. Not allowing myself to over-think about unnecessary stuff, I cleaned the whole shop every window and started wiping the front table.
“That was the fifth time you wiped it.”
I looked up and saw Kevin looking at me. There was a faint smirk lingering in his lips. At least he hasn’t run away yet. Scratching my head, I left the cleaning clothe on the table obviously conscious about as to how long he has been standing there and how I didn’t even sense it. I took the envelop and extended my hand, “it’s your pay check.” When he didn’t get it but kept staring at me, I went around the cashier and extended it again, “my dad wanted me to give it to you as you suddenly disappeared.”
With a slight nod he took the envelop with his right hand but continued to hold my hand. I tried to nudged it away but he was holding tightly. Suddenly being over-conscious which doesn’t usually happen as I’m good at hiding my feelings, I tried to nudge my hand forcefully and turned away. Without letting me go, he made me turn towards him and suddenly “SMACK”, I could taste strawberry cream and as background music he was laughing pretty loudly but managed to say “Happy Valentines Casey!”
I tried to cover up my smile with a cough and took some think icing from my face and perfectly threw it at his face. When he finally realized what I did he came after me and I ran around the tables until he finally caught me and hugged me. I didn’t know is it because he was running after me, but his heart was beating fast just like mine was. Although I wanted to push him away, I didn’t and neither did he for a long time.
At that moment I didn’t think about the future but the only thing that was inside my head was whether he would come back to the shop again tomorrow to work with me and help me bake, serve customers and most importantly whether he would still be curious to listen to the stories that I only told him, the ones I see when I bake.
ps. Rest of the story i want you to imagine and tell me!