Saturday, September 29, 2012

"The Bird and the Bakery"

            The little sparrow wandered around the front door, and every time the glass swung open its corner bell jingled a heartfelt sound that sent the hopping creature into bliss.
            He wanted to go in. But a bakery was not a bird’s domain. It was a person’s, hand and foot, to walk in and pick up fresh hot bread and to storm out just as quickly. He’d never rush out if he could go in— the sparrow would gratefully take his time.
            He scooted back a few inches to observe the window display. Autumn was approaching; twinkle lights bordered the wide pane and purple and yellow paisley-cloth maple leaves stuck magically against the glass frame. Pretty boxes wrapped in crinkly brown-packaging were tied at the top with flamboyant red bows of silk, spaced evenly up and down around silver platters of white cupcakes sprinkled with chocolate shavings. At the center of the marvel was in fact a live— and rather enormous— fan-tailed goldfish swimming happily and lazily back in forth in his glass dome.
            The bakery was not a bird’s domain. But this bakery was glorious. It sat old and aging in a moss green structure across Bridgeway Street from the shores of the Bay, across the street from where cold waves noisily splashed against the sharp uneven rocks along this wondrous waterfront. The Sparrow sometimes would fly into that big City across the waters. He was certain there were hundreds of bakeries out there on end. He never really saw one, but he knew they were there. He could only dream of their towering beauty over this little shop he now stood outside of.
            Yet the sparrow was alone. No one else would stop him. The next customer he eyed— a little boy and mother laughing and skipping through the door— he skipped after too. Flying would cause too much attention.
            He stood patiently and admirably in line. the frantic happy boy held his young mother’s hand and tapped his little fingers onto the displays of cookies and slices of cake and eagerly switched his choice of pastry around. She hushed him as it came to their turn— in a deep sweet voice she decided upon two meringues and seven tea cookies topped with sugar cookies and roasted almonds. The man behind the counter, an old, but rustic charming sort of gentleman with moon-shaped spectacles submissively smiled and brought the mother her sweets. She grabbed a plastic card out of a red leather wallet and gave it to the baker who swiped the card swiftly. The sparrow watched the transaction with fascination; he moved courteously out of the way for the mother and the little boy who seemed not to have noticed the little excited bird. The sounds of the bell tingling as the door opened and the elegant mother’s high heels clapping onto the floor seemed too real. He was happily not in a bird’s domain.
            No one stood before him. He flew quickly onto the counter before the humble sleepy baker. The baker arched his brows and adjusted the moons on his nose. “And what shall I get for you, Sir?”
            The sparrow was quiet. Then he softly sung (for sparrow voices are song, not noise), “I’d like an almond. Just one, from that cookie, if you please.”
            The rustic baker moved to the displays of sweets and delicately plucked a single slice of toasted almond from a cookie. The sparrow took it into his mouth. He ate it on the spot.
            When he had finished, in little over a few seconds, he looked up anxiously into the eyes of the baker. The baker was resting on his forearms, smiling curiously at the little bird who dared to enter his domain. “Don’t worry,” he assured the sparrow, “it was free.”

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