I crossed the small park sweltering in late spring heat. These days shouldn’t be so hot, but it seemed the summer roast had begun early, and no one had the common goddamn courtesy to send me an invite.
In the shade of a palm, I took a healthy pull from my water bottle- moistening the lips overflowing in curses. I realized from the rumbles in my stomach and the slight dizziness I felt that my decision to skip breakfast wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. I tended to be a bit faint in such weather, a condition exacerbated by low blood sugar.
Across the street, through the heat waves, I spied a bakery. I crossed at the pedestrian crossing, though no non-parked cars were on the street, which was odd for this time of day. As I made it to the other side a lime green bus came by, passengers I’m sure comfortable in its blowing aircon. I stifled rising jealousy as I noticed the bus was almost empty, save a few old people who seemed to have nowhere in particular to go.
I approached the door of the bakery and pushed the button on the sliding door. With a mechanical whirl, the door slid open and I was hit with a blast of cold air. A smile hit my lips as the first cold molecules enveloped my body. I stepped inside and the door quickly slid shut, as if to keep this precious commodity locked inside.
The bakery was empty, not even a worker to be found. One of the odd side effects of living in a place with no crime is that stores are often left unattended during non-peak hours. There is a worker here somewhere I’m sure, in the back probably or maybe the bathroom, but there is no concern about me. They’ll show up if I stand at the counter to pay- though I might have to cough a couple of times or say a loud hello to get their attention.
From above speakers misted down a ‘60s folk song. The sweet, mildly country harmonies mixed well with smells of fresh bread in the climate control room. I grabbed a tray and a pair of tongs and found my footfalls began to synch up with the steady upright bass articulated beat.
I slowly perused the various baked goods on offer, ranging from sweet to savory. They kindly listed the price and the caloric value- I could happily continue my habit of trying to find the best coefficient between price and caloric bang. After ruling out anything too creamy or any cakes of any sort I settled on a cheese loaf. It was soft bread, baked golden brown, though not too crisp on the outside, and filled with cheese. Cheddar perhaps, or something else similar, not too sharp though.
I put the loaf on the tray and happily trotted up to the still unmanned register. I coughed and a bored worker emerged from the back covered in flour. I greeted her with a smile which was met with polite, if disinterred, pleasantries. She rang me up and put my loaf in a bag. I paid, she made change, and with mutually exchanged thank yous she headed back to the back and I for the door.
I braced myself for the blast before hitting the door open button. I stepped out into the now more manageable heat and immediately bit into the loaf. I let the savory cheese bare me down the street and off to face the day.