A Bakers Dozen

Posted: October 14, 2010 in #fridayflash, Short stories

Twelve hearts were arranged on the floor in the shape of a heart.  In the centre was another.  A bakers dozen.  Each heart had a different shade of pink or red butter-cream icing in perfect peaks around the edge.  She guessed that they were filled with a jam, as she could see one with red sugary conserve, oozing from the side of its plumped up pastry.   Trust him, she thought, so kind, thoughtful and yet professional.

Rachel had never lived with a partner before so the whole concept was new to her.  They were both just getting used to each other’s habits, lifestyles and general dislikes.  It was exciting finding out knew things about each other and trying to compromise on the little things.

She’d learnt he didn’t like peas, unless they were incorporated in with the actual meal and that he didn’t like his socks being inside out when they were hung out to dry.  He’d learnt she wasn’t keen on English cuisine like Sheppard’s pie and casserole and would much rather have spice and culture in her evening meals.  They had both found a mutual affection for pastries, with him loving to bake them in his own bakery in town and her, who just loved eating them.

He’d also learnt something about her, which not even she knew about herself.  She talked in her sleep.  It hadn’t happened the first few weeks of living together, but as soon as they’d both settled into each other’s company, it began. 

Little murmurings at first, “Tim, I love you.” and “no, no, I’ll cook tonight”.  He would watch her face as she slept and spoke, her eyes flickering like a candles flame coming to the end of its wick.  The corners of her mouth would turn upwards into a smile and a small sigh of happiness would leave her nostrils, before settling down for a full nights sleep.

With Valentines Day approaching Rachel had been secretly plotting an experience for Tim, which she knew he’d adore.  A trip to a racing track and test-drive a formula one car.  Her brother Scott was helping her, as she knew nothing about racing or what she was actually booking.  Scott called her one evening and she had needed to talk in code as Tim was only in the kitchen and could hear the conversation.  When he came into the room he could hear a man’s voice on the other end of the telephone.

“Who was that?” he asked, once she’d said goodbye and hung up.

“Just Scott.” Thinking on her feet and knowing Tim would ask what Scott had wanted, she quickly followed it by, “he wanted to know if mum liked a certain CD for her birthday.”

Tim wasn’t a possessive man, or an untrusting one, but a small glimmer of uncertainty crossed his mind.

“I’m going to the cinema tomorrow with the girls from work, are you ok to get yourself something for dinner?” changing the subject as quickly as she could.  Her monthly trip to the cinema was extra special as she was going to see the latest release with her celebrity crush George Clooney as the starring role.

“Yes of course,” he smiled.  He sat down at the computer desk to connect to his social networking site.

“Rachel, why have all the search menus been wiped?”

“Erm,” she couldn’t tell him because she had been researching the valentine’s gift, “because I had to restart the computer, it froze on me!”

“It shouldn’t be doing that we’ve only had it a few months.  I’ll take it back to the shop if it does it again,” he smiled at her.

A small look of worry and guilt began to appear on her face, this was becoming risky and she needed to be more careful. 

When they went to bed that evening, Tim lay with one arm around Rachel as she fell to sleep.  He was curious about her strange behaviour that evening, the phone call, the PC searches being wiped and now Rachel was going looking guilty when he asked her questions.  Besides, Tim knew that Scott never remembered his mum’s birthday, that alone got her a present on time.

He lay still and began to slowly drift to sleep, when he woke to Rachel’s sleep talking. 

“No, it’s too risky sending it here.” She smiled, “he’ll find out!”  With that her eyes flickered and she turned over on her side and sighed gently.

His eyes widened and he could do nothing but stare into the darkness.

The next day his mind was circling, the more he thought about things the more his mistrust and apprehension grew.  Like tiny seeds had been planted in his head and overnight they had sprouted and were growing at an incredible and uncontrollable rate.    

When Rachel returned home that evening she was smiling and excited, firstly because she had been out with her friends and seen George Clooney on the ‘big screen’ and the tickets for Tim’s Valentine had arrived and were safely tucked away in her purse. 

“What a brilliant day,” she smiled, “the film was awesome.  How’s your day been sweetheart?”

“Been great thanks.  Finished the Henderson’s wedding cake today and it looks beautiful.”

“That’s great.”

After some more casual chit chat and a cup of tea each, they went to bed.

He knew she was bound to start talking again tonight and if he was honest was hoping she would let him in on the secret to get rid of these sceptical thoughts and dubious questions he’d been having.

Only he heard what his mind wanted to hear.

 “Oh George!” she smiled and giggled like a school girl being asked to the prom by the cutest guy in school.  “George stop it.”  Followed seconds later by “no its too risky, I’ve hidden them.”

Tears began trickling down his face, like a leaky roof, each trickle was a painful reminder that something was wrong and needed fixing before more damage was done. 

He decided to bake the biggest, tastiest pastry for her Valentine’s day present, something that was unique and only for her.

*   *   *

When she returned home early from work on Valentine’s day, she had a small pink envelope with Tim’s extra special gift inside. 

She went into the kitchen to find Twelve hearts were arranged on the floor in the shape of a heart.  In the centre was another.  A baker’s dozen.   

Little did she know she was playing a game of Russian roulette with pastry.

  1. Sinister. Miscommunication is a terrible thing, especially in a relationship. And has lead to situations just like this in the past. Which probably means the baker has put arsenic or cyanide in one of the pies. Still, the other 12 should be tasty before she dies.

    Nicely done.

  2. Lots to enjoy here … It’s sinister nature, sure, but little gems peppered in between like “The corners of her mouth would turn upwards into a smile and a small sigh of happiness …”

  3. Pamila Payne says:

    Ah, so tragic. If only he’d trusted her. Sleep talkers are so creepy though.

  4. TEC4 says:

    Oh, how sad. If he’d just asked instead of assuming …

  5. Jax says:

    Even the most innocent of secrets can be deadly to a relationship…

  6. John Wiswell says:

    Grotesque in an amusing way. The opening line is a heck of a hook, and I left the first paragraph wondering if they were all just snacks.

  7. Tiffany says:

    “So kind , thoughtful, and professional” and now she can add “psychotic” before she dies. Interesting some people’s ideas of “fixing” things. Enjoyed the read!

  8. Marisa Birns says:

    Why oh why don’t men learn to just ask the right questions! I hope she decides to go on a diet. 🙂

  9. Elijah says:

    This is a chilling thought, especially when I think of the next few minutes after the story’s ended. And worse yet, if she loses this game, how will he feel when he comes home and finds her still clutching his special gift?

  10. thomg says:

    A story of truth, with a nice twist in the end.

  11. Sam says:

    When I read your opening about the hearts in the shape of a heart I felt a bit queasy, until I realised this wasn’t a horror tale and they weren’t real hearts. When I read your last line, I wondered whether I’d been a bit hasty in dismissing the horror element. Really enjoyed this story, certainly a rollercoaster of emotions. And am I glad I don’t talk in my sleep!

  12. Cliff says:

    Excellent story with an awesome ending. I’m always fascinated to read what people come up with from my #storystarters. I seldom fail to be amazed.

  13. Laurita says:

    Oh, a classic misunderstanding gone very wrong. Great story with lots of good tension.

  14. Icy Sedgwick says:

    I can’t help thinking he would have been better off just asking her…and doing something with the pastry seems a little OTT!

  15. adampb says:

    What a way to take the relationship and give it a sharp twist. You created a believable couple with all their newness and insecurities.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  16. Kari Fay says:

    Okay… to jump from those assumptions to poisoned pastries means he’s a bit wrong in the head! So sad to think she could’ve saved herself if she’d just openly said “It was my brother. He’s helping me sort out your Valentine’s present! No, it’s a surprise!!”

    Great story though 🙂

  17. Steve Green says:

    Very nicely written, trust is possibly the strongest ingredient in a relationship, and as you so eloquently showed, when it appears in doubt there can be the most horrific of consequences.

  18. I had to go back and read the ending twice! Jealousy poisons relationships all the time. Fun to see it expressed in this way.

  19. Amalia T. says:

    interesting story. I was relieved that the hearts were pastries–even if they’re still deadly!

  20. I was thrown off a bit, thinking real hearts, and then wondering why the pastry is on the floor. Is there a reason “Twelve” is capitalized at the bottom? These two are not ready for a relationship, both not very communicative. Maybe she’ll offer her gift first before trying a heart.

  21. This story had a real sinister quality. The miscommunication felt completely believable. Interesting story.

  22. Rebecca says:

    Gosh, he is so suspicious isn’t he. Jealousy can be so destructive, and this sums it up perfectly. I found myself wanting to yell at him to stop jumping to conclusions!!

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