The chugging reverberation of a twisty tie machine. Rustling plastic. Sharp, glittering knife swipes that send sliced hamburger buns floating on air across smooth counter top. A four-beep page: “Bakery, you have a call on line 22, 33, 44, 55, 11, 99.” Pounded button. Single ring. Chirpy, “Yes, may I order a cake?” Hum of the cake cooler, game-winning buzz of the corner oven, rattling creak of french bread-bursting carts. Mutter of the bread loaf slicer, swish of the sink, clap of the pans, bounce of the doughnut case door closing against maple bars, Bavarian creams, apple fritters, and glazed croissants. That familiar woman with the barbwire tattoo armband and the icy eyes, who barks, “Excuse me, but you didn’t mark this cake down the right way” or “they let me buy old cakes before, so what’s the problem?” Crack of Siamese bagels splitting on the floor, smokey ice flooding the freezer, snap of plastic gloves against dry skin. Restless. Silent screams building up, fingers tapping impatiently. Fourth night closing by doing damage control. The final swish of a wire-haired broom, the final slap of a water-soaked mop, your dry voice dragging through the intercom, “Could I have TaylorJoshorAaron come to the bakery, please? TaylorJoshorAaron to the bakery. Thank you.” White, collared shirts approaching. Perky, assistant-manager smiles, almost worth it. Happy “how do ya”s and an “okay, you can go.” Flap of the apron bin, snap of a name tag pin, squeak of wet shoes on wet tile. Low mumble of register beeps blurring in a line beside you. Chiming chatter of old friends reuniting in the grocery store for the third time this week. Chug of a card punching out. Sigh of relief.
A winding road, a canyon wind, a sunset that makes the rocks turn the color of your skin. Hair flapping in the breeze that slips in and out of the crack in your window. Cars resting in the dusk a few yards away from the best rock walls you and their drivers have ever climbed. Narrow street, smooth as glaze. Log cabin sitting heavily on its haunches. The purr of a fifteen-minute-old fire, the cheery, “Arianna!” from the mouths of your littlest cousins. S’mores oozing onto your tongue, flashlights glittering over the treetops. A little boy holding your hand as you play Sardines in the dark. The quiet rustle of sleeping bags and tent tarps, the trickle of the river and a choir of crickets. The weary hoot of an owl and the bubbling giggles of little girls. The first night all week where you could close your eyes and hear absolutely nothing. The tang of morning rain, tugging puffy pancakes apart with your teeth, watching the morning sun send a haze over an army of pines. Looking on at the uncles you haven’t seen in months, one whose hair is salt and pepper and another whose hair is getting there slowly. Holding a sleepy baby girl against your shoulder, her blonde curls fuzzy from camper’s sleep. An enveloping, rare peace winding its way through your soul.