A small chime rang throughout the tiny bakery as Marcela slowly opened the creaky door, flecks of paint falling to the ground. The floor creaked underneath her feet as she studied the shop. Old porcelain sat upon dusty shelves, and bags of flour and sugar lay inside cabinets strung with cobwebs. Marcela reminisced of when the warm lights within the shop would radiate out into the cold bitterness of the world. Her dear grandfather would intone a Christmas carol, his voice a serenade in the quiet night. She sighed, wishing those days of bliss would return to her.
She then recalled how it all fell to pieces. In one swift and instantaneous moment, all of her aspirations and ambitions had been crushed.
Across the street sat another small bakery. Pink lettering covered its windows, and fancy signage was littered all throughout it. This small, harmless seeming building held the power alone to destroy its competition. Every store in the neighborhood was soon met with the vibrant red sign, flaunting its joyfulness in the face of the people met with disappointment and guilt.
Due to the inability to pay the full rent, your business has been evicted. All furniture and appliances within the facility must be removed by December 20th.
Many people were met with these words, their careers ruined because of these words. Marcela had witnessed the work of these words herself.
“Grandfather, what is that?”
He lifted his head full of graying hairs, his lips moving as he read. “An eviction notice. We must pack up soon.”
“What does that mean for the bakery?”
“It means it will close.” He uttered softly. Marcela buried her face in the fluffy cushions of the window seat, her favorite spot in the shop. He tried to console her as tears formed in the corners of his eyes.
Marcela lifted her face just enough to whisper the words, “What will we do now, Grandfather?”
Another chime brought Marcela back to the present as a woman stepped in. She had short, dirty blond hair, and sky blue eyes. Thin, black framed glasses sat upon the bridge of her nose.
“Marcela, what is wrong?” She asked as Marcela wiped her tears with the back of her hand.
“Oh, nothing,” Marcela said as she ushered the woman inside. “Enid, it is freezing out there! You must be terribly cold.”
“I am quite alright, but I am worried about you,” Enid answered, shivering.
“It is just that I haven’t visited this place since I was young. My grandfather went out of business twelve years ago. I’ve finally gained enough money to buy it back.”
The two women chatted, talking about both the bakery and the winter season. Enid and Marcela laughed at the childhood they had shared together.
“So you’re renovating this place?”
“Attempting,” Marcela admitted. “A few years ago, my grandfather died. I wanted to continue his lifelong dream.”
There was silence.
“It’s okay, I just— just wanted his legacy to live on.”
Enid nodded. “You will do great.”
“Well, I must be going,” Enid said, changing the subject and standing to leave. She was a good friend but always got a bit touchy when it came to emotions.
“I suppose this is goodbye, then.” Marcela chuckled as Enid gathered her belongings.
As Enid left, closing the door behind her, Marcela whipped around and looked at the place. It had been so long since she’d seen it in its former glory; she paced back and forth, trying to think up a way to gain customers.
It had all been that cheery pink storefront’s fault. The owner of the place had been known to cheat, lie, and steal his way to the top.
Marcela grabbed a broom that had been lying against the wall and swept and cleaned the bakery, pulling out metal chairs and small, round tables topped with candles and a dove white tablecloth. Then, while clearing away dusty platters off the counter, she had an idea. She smiled with malice. Finally, hanging a jolly wreath upon the front door, she stepped outside into the mounds of white frosty snow, leaving tracks of footprints behind her.
Flurries fell around her as she delivered each card around the town. Once she was satisfied, she marched back through the snow to prepare for the event.
First to come was Enid, shivering and wrapping her white and blue scarf tightly around her. She smiled at Marcela, gently placing her basket of warm oatmeal cookies onto the counter.
Slowly but steadily, a flow of guests arrived at the old bakery. Piles and piles of cookies lay at the counter as people talked and traded delicious and warm baked goods.
Marcela scanned the flocks of guests. At last she spotted him. Warm chocolate hair, devious smile, and dark brown, almost black eyes. She grinned.
Marcela backed out of the gathering, opening the back door and softly shutting it behind her. She stepped into the back alley of the bakery, and peeked around the corner of the building. Gently, she crept to the pink storefront, trying to make no sound.
Inside the unlit store, shadows peered at her from the corners. She tried to console herself, for the dark still terrified her. She pulled out a tiny box and emptied two small grey mice and five cockroaches into the kitchen. Soon they would infest the kitchen and, she hoped, the bakery would close forever.
Stepping back into her grandfather’s bakery, Marcela couldn’t help but smirk at the thought of the store owner, stepping into the pink shop’s kitchen, and seeing an infestation of cockroaches and rats. She chatted with whom she hoped would be new customers of her shop as they drank and laughed together.
In a week, the rival bakery closed, its windows locked and its soft lights out. Marcela knew the owner had cheated and lied plenty, but she couldn’t help feeling remorse for what she’d done. She stared out the window at the garish pink storefront, nothing but guilt filling her. With a sigh, she flipped the hanging closed sign to open.
Out the window, she saw the owner of the opponent bakery pacing while talking on the phone. He appeared to be yelling and pleading, his eyes water. His chocolate hair was disheveled, and his almost black eyes were worried and full of sorrow.
Marcela had transformed him into this. Once a proud and strong businessman, willing to do whatever it takes, he now resembled a unkempt, scruffy mess. Marcela wept, wishing she could end his sorrows. She turned the sign back to closed, and tried to busy herself the rest of the day. There was no way to stop the terrible disarray she had caused.