A Waffle Paradise Circulation: 197,832,142 Issue: 1007 | 3rd day of Hunting, Y26
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Baking Memories


by elizabeth197288

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"Oh no!” Rosie yelled, wafting away smoke as she ran towards the oven. Tugging the door open, she grabbed a dishcloth and pulled out the burnt cake. The top of the cake was black and crusty. No customer would pay for that. Unless… maybe she could scrape it off? Rosie’s wings twitched thoughtfully. She reached for a knife, and picked up the tin to turn the cake out onto a cooling rack. However, she had forgotten that it had just come out of the oven and was scorching hot, until she burned herself and dropped it onto the floor.

      At that moment, the doorbell to her shop sounded “Just a moment!” Rosie called, glaring at scattered mess on the floor. Now she would have to bake another one, and she was already behind schedule. Rosie sighed, then hurried across the kitchen to greet the waiting customer. As she passed the worktop, her tail knocked over a bag of icing sugar. The sweet, sticky cloud made Rosie sneeze. “More mess,” she muttered, rubbing icing out of her eyes as she went through the door. In the shop, a young Usul with a red bow tied around her ears stood patiently behind the counter. She smiled at Rosie.

      “Hello! I’d like to order a cake, please,” she said. Rosie winced. She hated saying no to customers, but today was not going well and she had so much work to do already.

      “I’m sorry, I can’t take any more orders today. There’s been a few….um…problems in the kitchen…”

      The Usul laughed. “Is that why you have icing sugar on your face?”

      Rosie groaned and rubbed a claw over her nose. It came away white. “I thought I got it all!” Despite the situation, she smiled a little bit, too. Then she had a thought.

      “What sort of cake would you like?” she asked the Usul.

      “Only a small one, with some flowers on it. I just moved into a new Neohome, and I’d like to give my neighbours a gift. They’ve invited me to a picnic in their garden!”

      Rosie smiled. A small, flowery cake should be manageable if she had some help…

      “Can you clean?” she asked.

      “Yes,” replied the Usul.

      “Excellent!”

     ***

     Cleaning a kitchen all day for a free cake was a good deal, Marielle the usul thought. Especially one of Rosie’s cakes. The Pastel Draik was famous throughout Neopia for her delicious bakes, and her shop was always busy. Everyone has off days though, and Marielle felt rather honoured to be able to help Rosie out on one of hers. First, she swept up all of the spilled icing sugar and burnt cake crumbs, then mopped the floor and set about washing the dirty cake tins. By then, Rosie had finished mixing up more cake batter to replace the one she had dropped, and some extra for Marielle’s cake, too. In no time the two new cakes were baking in the oven. Marielle put the ingredients away and scrubbed the worktops, whilst Rosie focused on icing and decorating some cakes she had made earlier. There was a chokato-flavoured birthday cake with rainbow frosting on the top. Rosie had just finished piping some swirls around it when the shop bell rang signaling the customer had arrived to collect it.

      “Could you wrap this up and give it to them, please?” Rosie asked. She was now engrossed in making chocolate faerie wings to decorate a box of waiting cupcakes.

      “Sure!” Marielle carefully slid the cake into a box and tied it shut with a ribbon. Then, she went out into the shop and handed it to the customer who lifted the corner of the lid to take a peek.

      “It’s perfect!” they gushed.

      Marielle smiled awkwardly and mumbled a polite ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye,’ hoping they didn’t think that she had made the cake.

      Back in the kitchen, Rosie began adding the faerie wings to the cupcakes. Marielle watched in awe, wishing she could make something that beautiful and delicious. Then the oven timer sounded, pulling her out of her daze.

      “That’ll be your cake finished!” Rosie said. “Want to take it out and choose some decorations? There’s some spare flowers I made yesterday which you can have,” she gestured to a basket across the counter. Marielle looked inside and saw that it was filled with fondant daffodils, dusted with edible glitter. She gasped.

      “These are the same as the flowers in my neighbour’s garden! They’ll be perfect, thank you!” Marielle squealed as she skipped across the kitchen to retrieve the oven gloves.

     ***

     Rosie smiled. Daffodils were her favourite flowers. Whenever she had spare icing or a customer didn’t specify what they wanted on their cake, she always made daffodils. They reminded her of when she was a child, seeing them push through the earth in her parents’ garden after the snow had thawed each spring. Every year, it amazed her how something so bright could grow out of the dull brown bulbs she had planted with her mother months before. Their frothy yellow and white petals brought her so much joy, knowing that the long winter was finally ending. Daffodil Diary was her favourite book at that time of year, and she had requested it for every bedtime story. Rosie smiled at the memories. It had been a long time since she’d last seen her parents and their garden. She sighed, and quickly finished decorating the cupcakes.

     ***

     After removing her cake from the oven, Marielle carefully turned it out onto a cooling rack. It was only a simple vanilla sponge, but it smelled amazing. Marielle turned out the second cake as well, and set it aside for Rosie.

      “That will have to wait until tomorrow!” Rosie said as she finished packaging the cupcakes.

      Whilst her cake cooled, Rosie helped Marielle to make some icing to put on it. Marielle enjoyed learning how to whisk the icing sugar and butter, and carefully spread it over the cake and level it off. Then she arranged the daffodils on top, and used a piping bag to put some little stars around the edge of the cake. When she had finished, she stepped back to admire her work. For her first time decorating a cake, she felt very proud of the result.

      “That looks lovely!” Rosie said, smiling.

      Marielle blushed. “Thank you! I hope my neighbours will like it…”

      The shop doorbell chimed again. “That will be the customer for these cupcakes,” Rosie said, picking up the box and heading through the door. Marielle glanced around the kitchen, suddenly feeling sad. It was almost the end of the day, and she would have to go home soon.

     ***

     After handing over the faerie cupcakes to another happy customer, Rosie locked the shop and trundled back into the kitchen. She was exhausted, and there was still tidying to be done. She loved her job, but some days it overwhelmed her. Especially the cleaning and tidying. She stood in the doorway and stared without really seeing anything, wondering where to start, when a clang from near the sink caught her attention. She looked over to see Marielle washing cake tins and mixing bowls, soap bubbles clinging to her fur. She turned and smiled back at Rosie.

      “You did invite me here to clean, remember?” she said. Rosie laughed. “And you’ve done a great job! Thanks for all your help. I’ll get a box for your cake. Don’t forget to take it with you.”

      “I won’t! The picnic is tomorrow afternoon, by the way. Would you like to come?”

      Rosie hesitated, glancing at the cake sitting on the counter still waiting to be decorated. If she got up early in the morning and worked hard, she could probably make it.

      “Sure, I’d love to!”

     ***

     The following afternoon Rosie found herself walking down a street on the outskirts of Neopia Central. It was a sunny yet cool early spring day, and the air was crisp and fresh. The Neohomes she passed were neat, with well-kept gardens. The area was vaguely familiar; it reminded her of where she grew up. It felt nice, but also a little unsettling. Since moving into Neopia Central to open her bakery several years ago, Rosie hadn’t had a chance to return home. At least, that’s what she told herself.

      Turning a corner, Rosie saw a Neohome ahead with cascades of daffodils blooming in the front garden. A blanket was spread out on the lawn, and Rosie saw Marielle setting out plates and cups. The Usul waved when she saw Rosie. However, Rosie stopped and stared at the Neohome, for she knew it well. And she also knew the two Elderly Draiks sitting beside Marielle on the blanket. They turned to look at her and froze as well. Suddenly it all made sense to Rosie. Why she recognised the area, and Marielle saying that the flowers on the cake matched the ones in her neighbour’s garden. Marielle’s neighbours were her parents.

      They’d all seen each other now, so Rosie felt that she couldn’t turn back. She crept onwards, towards the garden gate. Marielle, unaware of the situation, jumped up from the blanket and ran over to her.

      “Glad you made it!” she said, opening the gate and ushering Rosie inside. Rosie stepped into the garden in a daze, still staring at her parents. They stared back, as though they were trying to piece who she was together in their minds. Maybe they were.

      Marielle gestured towards the blanket. “This is -”

      “Rosie!” Rosie’s mother cut Marielle off, and stumbled to her feet. She crossed the garden, wings bouncing behind her.

      “Hi, mother,” Rosie murmured, smiling shyly. She looked down at the ground, not wanting to meet her mother’s gaze. Marielle shuffled awkwardly out of the way as Rosie’s dad also got up off the blanket and went to join his family.

      “Hello, Rosie. We’ve missed you,” he said. Rosie didn’t say anything, continuing to look at her feet. She had missed her parents too.

      “Marielle was telling us how kind you were to her, and that you made these beautiful flowers for her cake,” her mother said. Rosie nodded slowly.

      “She also said that your bakery is the busiest in Neopia, and you run it all by yourself!” Rosie’s dad added.

      “It’s true!” Marielle called.

      Rosie looked up and smiled. “Yes, I am very busy. And everyone seems to like my cakes…”

      “We’re very proud of you, and we’re sorry for doubting you.”

      “You were so young when you left! We were worried about you, and never meant to hurt you,” her mother said.

      “Rosie smiled again. “I know. I was upset at the time, but then I became so focused on opening my bakery and it got so busy that I didn’t have time to think about coming to visit.”

      “Well, we’re all here now! What a nice surprise,” Rosie’s mother said. Rosie and her dad nodded in agreement.

      “All thanks you to you!” Rosie said, looking over at Marielle. Marielle blushed. “I just wanted to give people cake, I never meant to create a family reunion!” Everyone laughed, and made their way over to the blanket. Once they were all seated, Rosie cut up and served the cake. Her parents thought it was delicious, and they passed the afternoon happily catching up and enjoying the early spring sunshine.

      When it was time to leave, Rosie said goodbye to her parents and hugged them. They promised to come and visit the bakery soon, and she promised to make time to visit home more often. Rosie hugged Marielle, too.

      “Thank you for inviting me. It’s been a really special day!”

      “Of course! Thank you for helping me with the cake! I enjoyed decorating it so much!”

      Rosie thought for a moment. She was busy in the bakery, and Marielle had been such a huge help.

      “You know, I could do with some more help, on a more permanent basis, if you’d be interested?”

      Marielle gasped. “Really? Oh, yes, definitely! I can be there tomorrow!”

      “Great! I’ll see you then! And I’ll try not to be covered in icing sugar when you arrive.” Rosie and Marielle laughed together at the memory.

      Rosie had a peaceful walk back into town, to her little Neohome above the bakery. She felt like she had gained so much in so little time, which she hadn’t even realised she was in need of. A new friend and colleague, and a reunion with her family. She went to bed happy, and slept well without stressing about work for the first time ever.

     The End.

 
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