Thursday, March 19, 2015

Baker, Orb's Year 945-948


Orb's Year 945
 Fancy slept, ignoring the pounding on the door.
"Mama? Can you hear me?" Gene baker asked.  "Please open the door!" she begged.   It had been a year since her father had died and mama was no better. She'd retreated into her room, hardly ever coming out to eat or drink.

She rested her head on the door, and whispered, "Please..."
Straightening her back, she headed upstairs to get  her brother, Bastian, ready for a trip into town.
Carrying him on her hip, she walked to the Bistro.  By the time they'd arrived, she was cold, tired, and her arm felt like it was going to fall off from hauling around her growing brother and the bag of baked goods!
The moment she walked in, Farha Grocer saw her and smiled in greeting.  "Gene! Look how much little Bastian has grown!  Did you bring your mother's baking?"
Gene lifted her brother higher on her hip instead of putting him down.  He'd likely run around trying to grab anything within his reach and they couldn't afford to buy anything!  "Yes, he's a growing boy!"

Farha smiled, noting the absence of Gene's mother.  "And Fancy? How is she?" 

Gene blinked back tears that threatened to fall. "She's fine. We're all fine!" she lied brightly.  "I brought a few things that she made," she added, holding out the bag.

Farha glanced in the bag, and frowned.  "Your mother hasn't been making her cakes and pies recently!" she noted.  "Those are really are big sellers."

Gene looked stricken.  "Oh, well, I'll let her know to include some in her next batch!"

Farha crossed her arms. "Perhaps she needs to come in to do her baking. Her customers miss her. Maybe Gemma or I should come pay her a visit."

"Oh no!" Gene exclaimed. "I mean, of course, if you want. She just prefers little company since my father has passed. I'm sure she'll be up for company again, soon.  I'll let you know when I bring the next batch of goods!"

Gene all but ran from the store.

***

Back at home with Bastian tucked away in bed, Gene began preparing the delicatessen sandwiches and a few pastries.  "Oh this is pointless!" she grumbled.  "I can't bake the cakes and pies like mama!"
 Dropping the bread on the counter, she rushed to her mama's door and knocked again.  "Mama?" she called out.  "It's me... Gene..."
 But no amount of begging or pleading seemed to make it's way to her mother's ear.  Gene had never felt more alone.

 ***

The rustling noise at night woke her and Gene crept downstairs, wondering if she would find a robber or her mother or... 
 "Gena!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?!"
 Gena folded her arms across her chest. "Well I live here, don't I?" she snapped. 
"Oh, that's rich! We haven't seen hair or hide of you for months! You haven't been here to help! Mama's not coming out of her room, I'm raising Bastian on my own, and desperately trying to keep us afloat!"

Gena scoffed, "Oh yes, it sounds like I'm missing out on a perfectly lovely time!"

Gene's mouth dropped with astonishment.  "Why did you even come back here if you don't care?"

"You're right. I don't know why I came back!" Gena snapped, turning on her heel and leaving.
Gene ran after her to the door, yelling at her twin's retreating figure, "And that's it, then? You're just going to leave?!"

Gena didn't answer.

 Orb's Year 946
Gene knocked on her mother's door, mostly out of habit, not out of an actual belief that her plea would be answered.  "Mama?" she called.

"Come in," her mother called out with a croaky voice, rough from disuse.
Gene tried the door and found it unlocked. She hurried in the room.  "Mama!"  She was so happy to see her mother that tears tracked down her cheeks. 

Fancy patted the bed by her side.  "Come, sit with me," she said tiredly.
 Gene hurried to her mother's bed and sat down beside her. 
"I'm sorry," Fancy said, reaching to take her daughter's hand in her own.  "I haven't been there for you."  She squeezed her daughter's hand, wiping off tears of her own.

"Are you better now?" Gene asked cautiously.

Fancy nodded.  "I think so."  But then her face crumpled.  "I just miss him so much."

Gene squeezed her mother's hand. "I know, mama. I do, too.  But, we're here for you - Bastian and I!"

Fancy nodded tiredly.  "I'm going to take a little nap. Run along."

Gene left the room, buoyed by the fact that her mother had let her in.  It was a start!

***

Gene woke early to let Bastian out of his crib bed and feed him, but found him missing.  "Oh Cursed Orb!" she swore.  Where was he?  She distinctly remembered putting him to bed the night before and kissing his brow after tucking him in. 
 She rushed downstairs and found...

"Mama?!" she asked with wonder, blinking.  "You're up!"
Bastian broke away from his mother with a laugh and ran to greet her. "Isn't it great?! Mama's better!" he sang.

Gene was so happy, so kissed her brother. 
 "Yuck!" Bastian grimaced.  "You kissed me!"
Fancy crossed the room and kissed Gene in greeting.  "You reminded me of what I had to live for instead of grieving what I lost.  I can't tell you how sorry I am."

"I forgive you, Mama," Gene said with tears in her eyes.

 ***

It had been awhile since she'd heard from her love, Carey Potter.  He'd been so busy learning to scribe for Lord Knowles that he hadn't had as much time for her.  Until his time in service was done, his life belonged to the Knowles.  That didn't make the distance between them easier though.

She sent him long, heartfelt letters every month...

..even when there was no response...
 "What are you writing?" Bastian asked, coming up behind her.

Gene startled, tucking the sheet of paper under all the others. "Nothing!" she lied, embarrassed to have been caught mooning over a boy. 
 "Come on, let's work on your letters," she told Bastian.

Bastian scuffled his feet.  "Aw, do I have to?" he asked hopefully. "Can't I do it tomorrow?"

"You know it would've been very important to Papa that you know how to read and write! He even taught his daughters!"
"Why don't you have to go to school?" Bastian demanded as he sat down. 

"When I was your age, I did! I had to stop after Papa died so that I could take care of you, didn't I?"

Bastian glanced up as he worked on his letters.  "Why didn't Mama take care of me?"  He was so young, he didn't quite remember.

Gene smiled down at him.  "Your Q is crooked," she told him, "And mama was very, very sad after papa died."

"Weren't you sad, too?" Bastian asked, erasing his Q and trying again.

Gene wrapped her arms around her middle.  "Let's focus on your schoolwork for now," she said, attempting to change the conversation.

 ***

 "Fanny!" Fancy cried out with happiness when her twin sister came through the door.  "It's so good to see you!"

Fancy hurried to her sister's side and gave her a big hug.  "We were so worried about you!  But, Gene assured me you just needed time alone."
Fancy sighed.  "Poor Gene.  She tried so hard to take care of me... and Bastian.  I feel so guilty that there was no one to take care of her! Now she's not even and adult, but is a grown woman making her own choices."
"I failed her, Fanny," Fancy said with a heavy heart.  "I failed her and Gena!"

Fanny held her sister's hand and patted it.  "You haven't failed them. They were raised in a house full of love and laughter.  That has seen them through the hard times.  That doesn't mean they don't need you! It just means what they need has changed."

***

 With her sisters words ringing in her ears, Fancy approached Gene one afternoon while she was brooding.  "Gene?" she asked cautiously. 
 "Yes?" Gene asked.

"I thought perhaps you might want to learn some of our family recipes."

Gene's eyes lit up.  "Really?! Oh, I would love that!" she gushed. 
 Fancy walked Gene through the steps for making a chocolate cake.   She had done very well until....
"Is it supposed to smoke like that?" Gene asked.

"Oh no! Pull it from the fire!" Fancy said, waving her apron to spread the smoke.
Gene pulled out the burned cake and sighed.  "I ruined it!" she said sadly.  "I'll never be able to bake like you!"

Fancy smiled.  "Never say never! Why, remember the story about how I met your father?! (Baker, Orb's Year 926)  If your aunt hadn't started that fire, I might never have gotten another chance to meet Sebastian again!"  She smiled at the fond memory.   

Gene set the burned cake aside with a lighter heart and decided to try again.  They could always cut the burned edges off from the cake and enjoy it themselves!

Orb's Year 947
 "Good morning, darlings! It's time to wake up and have breakfast!" Fancy called out before heading back downstairs.
 "Alright! Mama made breakfast!" Bastian cheered.  "I love it when she cooks!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Gene grumbled.  Bastian had made it quite clear that her food was inferior to their mother's.  But she was learning!

***

"Perhaps you could walk with your brother to school?" Fancy suggested, hoping to relieve the burden of taking care of the family that Gene had wrapped around herself.  "I worry about him making it safely."

"Mama! I'm a big boy!" Bastian complained from her side. 

Fancy winked at him and turned back to Gene.  "And if you find something interesting, you could always feel free to stay! I was just going to go bring a few cakes and pies to the Deli."

"If you're sure," Gene hedged.
"Oh yes! Go! Enjoy yourself!" Fancy pressed.  Be young and carefree! she wanted to shout at her retreating back.

***

 Fancy arranged the blanche mange at the front of the case, humming happily.  It felt so good to be out and about again and baking.
 "Are you responsible for the delicious pies?" a stranger asked, coming up behind her.

"I'm sorry? Excuse me?" Fancy said, surprised to be addressed.
"No, I'm sorry! I've been so sad the Grocers quit carrying the blanche mange! And here you are! And here they are!" he motioned towards the delicate treats.  "Do you bake them?!"

Fancy blushed. "Oh! Yes, I'm the baker!"

Samuel grabbed her hand and kissed it.  "Thank you for baking them again!" he said, full of charm, causing Fancy to blush. 

 ***

 "It certainly smells good in here!' Fancy said when she returned home to find Gene baking.
 "It's just like you said, Mama! Try and try again!" Gene showed off her perfect chocolate cake. 

Orb's Year 948
 "Do you want to talk about what's bothering you?" Fancy asked.
Gene sighed heavily.  "I haven't heard from him! He said he loved me, Mama! So why hasn't he come to visit or called?"  Gina looked up at her mother. "I worry that he's over me."

Fancy nodded. "It's hard, I know.  During the time your father was in the night guard, I made do with his infrequent visits." She sat down next to Gene and patted her knee.  "Perhaps you might go see him and find out once and for all where his heart is."

"But what if I find out he doesn't love me anymore?" she whispered.

"Then at least you know not to waste your love on him anymore."

 ***

"I can't do this!" Gene thought, burying her face in her hands.  She'd lost so much... she didn't want to lose Carey, as well!
Knowing her mother was right though, Gene stood up and hurried from the house.  She needed to find out once and for all if Carey Potter was worth waiting for!

 ***

She saw him sleeping in the servant's quarters, a make-shift barn.  He looked so peaceful asleep.  Silently she crept in, the hay sounding under her footsteps. 
 "Who's there?" he asked, reaching for his sword and vaulting out of his bed. 

"I..." Gene stuttered, staring at the blade pointed at her breast.  "It's me!"

Carey dropped the sword. "Cursed Orb, Gene! What are you doing here?" he asked.
He pulled Gene into his arms, his heart thundering in his chest.  He'd held his sword point to her chest. He could've hurt her!  "I'm so sorry! I was sleeping," he said in apology.

Gene gazed into his eyes, very aware that she was in his arms and he was half-naked.  She lightly stroked her hands across his bare shoulders, reveling in the feel of his skin beneath her hands. 

Heat flared in Carey's eyes.  "Gene? What are you doing here?" he asked, clenching his hands where they rested on her hips.  When she looked at him like that, it made all rational thoughts disappear.  All he could think about right now was laying her down on his bed and loving her.

Gene lifted her lips up to meet his as they came crashing down on her.  He kissed wildly, desperate to erase the time and distance that had grown between them.
Their love-making was frenzied and passionate. She offered no protests and he offered no promises as they fell into bed. 
 Gene returned home, secure in Carey's love for her and their future together.

 ***

Fancy was pacing by the front door when Gene arrived home shortly before dawn. "Mama!" she exclaimed in surprise.
"When I said I thought you should speak with him, I didn't mean for you to throw caution and good sense to the wind!" Fancy said.
"It's going to be okay, Mama," Fancy said with a smile, kissing her mother's cheek.  "I'll see you in the morning."
Fancy watched Gene hum as she crossed the room and climbed upstairs.  Her daughter had become a woman and only time would tell if any repercussions from this night would come.

It seemed to the Baker's curse to raise their children out of wedlock...

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