Short Stories

Blueberry Muffins

     When Millie walked through the door, she was greeted with the smells of baking and a murmur of jazzy music. She hung her coat and scarf, grateful for the warmth and light of the kitchen after the chilly frost outside. She peered out from the coat closet into the kitchen, where she saw the pair baking and chatting. Millie new that, though it seemed like she had just walked in on a long conversation, they had only just started talking when they heard her keys jangling outside.

     The girl was a better actor than the boy– her hands flew expertly about her work like she’d been mixing the blueberry muffin batter the whole time Millie was gone, and she had been sure to crush blueberries and sprinkle flour on her fingers to complete the effect. Her eyebrows were furrowed in scrutinization, and the corners of her mouth were slightly upturned– a look that Millie knew meant she was concentrated. She was playing along with the small talk, and playing well. But her cheeks, flushed pink like vivid cherry blossoms, and the new light dancing in her eyes gave her away.

The boy was having much more trouble. His fingers drummed the counter in juxtaposition to the beat of the quiet music, and he hardly seemed engaged in the conversation at all. His eyes darted from the girl to the radio to the batter and back again in a matter of seconds, as if they were trying to take in far too much all at once. But he couldn’t contain a crooked grin that lit up his face and the air around him with ineffable electricity.

She was still swaying to music that had obviously been louder before Millie had walked in the door (the volume knob was lightly dusted in flour), her bright eyes almost humming along in harmony. He stared at her with a look of pure limerence– the way a heart yearns for a melody or how darkened eyes hunger for the light; an aching longing for a propinquity just out of reach. Somehow, there had been a serendipitous discovery of feelings that hadn’t belonged to them before.

As Millie discerned all this in a matter of seconds, they turned to face her and finally acknowledged her presence, their fictitious discussion fading. Millie knew they had’t done much; batted eyes over the ingredients set before them, danced around the linoleum floor. They had been so close– pressed together in their dance and staring deep into each other’s eyes– that it had been difficult for them to not act disappointed when Millie’s key had turned the lock and the tender moment had been fractured.

They regarded Millie tentatively, as if they were guilty of some crime and were awaiting Millie’s sentence. For an instant, time seemed to stand still and then wind backwards as Millie reminisced her days when she made muffins and danced with boys around the small kitchen, caught in a moment of ethereal oblivion. Then she promptly returned to the present and took a few steps forward that echoed on the kitchen tile.

If the girl seemed apprehensive, then the boy looked certain he was about to receive his death sentence from Millie as she walked in his direction. But she turned to the mixing bowl on the counter to his left and dipped one finger in for a quick taste.

“Delicious,” she concluded.

Millie almost chuckled at their expressions of bewilderment and relief, but instead she raised her eyebrows and flashed them a knowing smirk before moving to the radio and turning the volume back up.

“Oh, this is one of my favorites!” she remarked happily. Humming softly to the lively song, she walked slowly out of the kitchen. She knew it wouldn’t be long for the two to reclaim the moment she had inadvertently broken.

They deserved to have that moment alone– or, rather, Millie amended, they deserved it together. Even if, for now, together only meant flour-powdered hands brushing against each other, slow dancing to an old radio in a narrow kitchen, and sharing a small, sweet kiss that tastes of blueberries.

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