She had never seen anything more delightful, delectable or delicious in all her life. With her nose pressed to the glass of the shop window, hands cupped around her eyes to cut down on the sun’s glare, she stared into the Patisserie wishing she had enough coin to indulge in such sweets. But her mother had only given her enough money to buy a loaf of bread, a few eggs, and a bit of milk for tonight’s supper. She wouldn’t dare squander their meager cache on something as frivolous as a cream filled pastry! It would be unconscionable. Still… they looked delicious. Her stomach let out a loud grumble.
An older gentleman walking past not only saw her, but heard her body emit the mournful noise. Walking stick tapping the ground to catch her attention, he asked her if she saw something in the window that caught her fancy. In a near panic, she turned around. Looking left then right then left again. Rubbing her moist palms on her filthy tunic, she stuttered a response that even she couldn’t understand.
At that moment, the shopkeeper – having witnessed this transpire from inside – stepped through the doorway to ask if anything was amiss. The older gentleman, such as he was, tipped his hat to the shopkeeper and replied that all was well, and he and his ‘granddaughter’ were indeed about to patronize this fine establishment and partake of its wonderful offerings. The young girl stuttered again as the shopkeeper held the door open. This time the older gentleman was close enough to make out the words “But I have no coin, sir. It would be stealing.”
Bending down to rest his palm upon her head, he replied, “Nonsense child, stealing is for the poor, and I can see you are anything but. You wouldn’t deny an older gentleman the privilege of indulging a young lady with a delicious morsel, now would you?”
“No, sir, I would not, but…”
“Then it’s settled. Have you picked your treat yet? I know what mine shall be. They make the most scrumptious chocolate Pasticiotti here!” He smiled as he shooed the shopkeeper away and held the door for her to enter.
“Oh, yes, sir! That was the very thing I was looking at through the window. They do look marvelous, don’t they?” She grinned from ear to ear with excitement, eliciting a small chuckle from the old man.
“Then please, my dear, after you.”
She entered the shop unsure of herself; she’d never been in such a fine bakery before. She could barely contain her excitement. The older gentleman ordered two chocolate Pasticiotti and guided her to one of several small tables lining the wall. After instructing her to wash up in the ladies room at the rear, he drew in a deep breath that carried with it all the marvelous aromas held captive within the shop. He then released that breath upon a sigh, and leaned his walking stick against the wall.
When the young girl returned, the desserts had been served, and the older gentleman seemed to have fallen asleep. Unease filled her once again, but the scent of the sweet cream filling was too much for her to resist. She found herself gobbling as fast as she could. The pastry, it seemed, was slightly larger than her eyes and her belly, for she began to feel very full. The shopkeeper came over to ask if all was well, and she replied that indeed it was, however, her ‘grandfather’ seemed to have fallen asleep. Gazing at the old man, the shopkeeper smiled. He retrieved a box from beneath the counter and packaged the older gentleman’s treat inside it, along with the remains of hers as well.
Handing her the box, he told her to run along and take the gift home to share with her family. Gratefully she thanked him, and asked if she should wake the older gentleman to thank him as well. The shopkeeper simply shook his head and told her to let the older man sleep, he would pass along her gratitude once the gentleman woke.
Hopping off her seat, she thanked the shopkeeper again, said a silent thank you to the sleeping older gentleman and headed out the door feeling happy and bright.
Once the door closed, the shopkeeper looked sadly upon the old man, his hat still resting at an awkward angle upon his head, as it was most days. “Ah, Granddad, you need to find your rest. Please, I beg of you. I enjoy your daily visits, and I know how much you loved this shop and the children who visited it while you were here, but your soul needs to find a home of its own now.” And with that, he placed the silver handle of the walking stick back into the older gentleman’s hands, and watched with tears in his eyes as his Granddad slowly dissipated.
Wiping his eyes dry, and the table clean, he went about his business as the latest in a long line of family proprietors of the Patisserie; all the while praying for his Granddad’s soul to find peace, but knowing he would see him again the following day.
© Copyright 2013 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
I’m doing the 2013 Blogging from A to Z Challenge! Pop back everyday but Sunday through the month of April for a new letter prompt to spawn my deranged ramblings! ;}