You always know them when you see them.
A girl in her early twenties walking alongside a woman who can only be her mother. Same eyes, same teeth. They walk slowly across the linoleum, picking at boxes of cookies, glancing distractedly at the pyramids of apples and oranges in produce, their fingers pointing at the displays.
They always wander over at the worst possible moment. Like when your gloved hand is holding a gob of breakfast roll icing or tendrils of your dark hair are bursting out from beneath your hat. They come when your apron is covered in garlic spread and chocolate, when your face is dusty with flour.
Authoritatively, they set their hands on the front desk, and that’s when you’re certain — the younger girl’s left fingers mesh together beneath the glitter of diamond.
“We’d like to talk to someone about a cake,” they say.
“Hold on. Let me get someone who can help,” you reply.
The decorators are there instantly, and as you mosey back to your garlic bread or your sugar cookies, you hear everything. We’re thinking or we’d like or can you do this or I’d love to add some color. Someone giggles, probably the young woman. You tear the bread apart too roughly with your knife. You box the cookies and the plastic lids slam together. You notice the emptiness of your fingers as you scrape crumbs from the table.
They’ll talk about costs and time and design and delivery until the cows come home. Eventually, they’ll leave, but the next day and the day after that, you’ll see a new pair. Both heavyset or both with blonde hair or both with high cheekbones and beautiful lips. Both with diamonds.
When you go to the refrigerator to get new cakes for the displays, a white buttercream raspberry-filled one will arrest your attention for a moment. You’ll think it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Then you’ll tuck your hair back into your hat and walk out, the swinging door will slap behind you, and as you slide on a new pair of gloves, you’ll sigh when they slide on too easily.