Flash Fiction: A Thousand Conversations

“Good morning,” Jeremy said, greeting the first customer of the day. “What can I do for you?”

The customer smiled, but her focus was not on Jeremy. Instead, she was focusing on all of the pastries held within the case which served as the focal point of this small café and bakery.

“Oh, there’s just so many to choose from,” she said, leaning closer to the glass partition keeping her from directly touching any of the freshly baked goods.

“There sure are,” Jeremy answered. “That’s why I always just take one of each,” he said with a joking smile.

“Don’t tempt me,” she replied. Her focus finally turned to Jeremy. “How long have you guys been here? I live in town, but have never managed to make it down.”

“We’ve been open for just about three months now.” Jeremy shrugged, wishing he had a more fun answer to give. He’ll have to work on coming up with something better.

“Well, I’ve definitely been missing out then, haven’t I?” she asked, walking around the corner of the case to see the rest of the items on display. Her eyes darted left and right as she took in all there was to see. Between the macarons, the croissants, the tarts, and all of the other sweets that had been baked in house that morning, there was plenty for her to take in. As she did, a family of three walked through the door, a man and a woman and their daughter who looked to be about five years old.

“Good morning,” Jeremy said to them.

“Good morning!” the father said loudly. “What have you guys got good today?”

“It looks like everything,” the first customer said as she smiled at the family.

This was Jeremy’s favorite part of working at the bakery. It seemed like everyone who came through the doors were happy to be there and wanted to share that happiness with everyone else who happened to be sharing the smells at the same time.

“Oh, we know that,” the mother of the family joined in. “Although, if you’re looking for a recommendation, I’d suggest the souvenir beaune. It’s the one with the pear right there,” she added, pointing in the case at a small square-ish pastry filled with pear halves and raspberry jam. “That’s Bella’s favorite, isn’t it?” she said, asking her daughter. The young girl nodded her head enthusiastically.

“Oh, well, if you suggest it, then I have to take that,” the first customer said happily. “And I’ll take one of each of the flavors of macarons, if I could.”

Jeremy laughed. “I guess I’ll let you.”

All day, it seemed, his conversations were variations on this same theme. And he would play his part, primarily as a third wheel to discussions about the goodies his wife and staff had been baking, interjecting well rehearsed quips and comments to try to aid in the atmosphere of pleasure that his wife’s business had managed to present.

Another customer walked through the door as Jeremy boxed up the first customer’s order. A tall man, with a long white beard hiding behind the mask he wore.

“Robert!” Jeremy shouted as he saw the familiar form of one of the shop’s regular customers. “I’ll make sure they get your order started.”

“Sounds good, Jeremy. I’m going to pick up something tasty for the wife as well.”

“I’d be surprised if you didn’t,” Jeremy chuckled.

He finished packing up the order and entered the order into the register. As he completed the transaction with her, she smiled while gathering her packages.

“Thanks for stopping in,” Jeremy said as she started toward the door.

“I’ll definitely be back,” she said proudly.

“Glad to hear it,” Jeremy smiled back.

And he was. Not because he needed the business to make money so he didn’t lose the house, but because he loved watching all of these customers come in and enjoy the things his wife and staff slaved over. He adored the positive attention the fruits of his wife’s long years of wanting to open her business was now garnering. And he loved the way he felt as he helped people through the process of deciding what they wanted to eat immediately and what they wanted to take home with them.

And although he could definitely use another coffee to drink to help him get pepped up, he was ready to have this exact conversation another nine hundred ninety-nine times today. If only he could figure out a good quip about how long they’ve been open. Maybe something about how he’s still new here?


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