May 01, 2016

Frizzy flour hair, facial frosting moisturizer and cake crumbles decorating the floor marked the remnants of what had been a very long shift. The last cake of the day was proving to be difficult, especially with a broken decorator's icing scraper. Icing duty is not the most fun, but it is necessary, as many things in life are. Like names, too bad her parents had agreed on their first choice: Cookie. That was her, Cookie Tanaka, the baker. Twenty-four years ago the registration office of the Ohio State had not had better judgment than to allow the happy immigrant couple the proposed name for such a fragile child. Had it been up to Cookie, she would have fought with whisk and spoon for the second candidate her parents had had on list: Éclair. She always fantasized how she could have introduced herself by the nickname "Claire", a normal girl with a regular name. But that was all it would ever be, fantasies. Much like Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy (a fairytale her parents had never encouraged, favoring the traditional throw of the forsaken tooth so as to set the path for the new one to follow, giving way to aligned teeth and a pretty smile).

Cookie was almost done when a small strand of hair dislodged from her high bun, letting loose flour particles that quickly found their way to her nose.

Achiiiooo.

That did it. The scraper bent with her sneeze, taking away too much frosting and ruining the smooth surface. The cake now had a bald spot where the frosting had been, letting through a defiant glow of its spongy base. She sighed with defeat in her breath, her shoulders heaved in annoyance, shortening her neck and giving way to a double chin.

"Ha ha ha. Don't tell me you are going to let a sneeze beat you to the cake, Cuki?"

Her wrinkly mother came in through the door, bringing peace with her presence. Cookie half smiled as she cringed inwardly at the way her mother pronounced her name. Cuki. So yes, there was a way to worsen her name.

"No mama."

One, two, three times Cookie ironed her apron with her hands. It was a ritual, not a good one, but one that managed to soothe her. She quickly filled the balding spot with the excess frosting she had been scraping then proceeded with the base icing. As the final smoothing of the cake was achieved Cookie smiled triumphantly. She knew it was her mother's presence that had given her the boost and pulse to carry out the job so quickly. She looked up to meet Mrs.Tanaka's happy eyes. The shift was done, it was time to go home.