They were all out of apple pie.
The sight of the berry pies stacked in place of the apple pies and the owner’s apologetic smile made her want to bawl her eyes out. She was absolutely knackered, and this could not be happening. The owner tried to sell her some delicious looking brownies, but she didn’t have enough money for both the apple pie and the brownies. She shot the lady a quick smile and made her way out of the bakery.
This apple pie wasn’t meant to be, some other bakery or patisserie had to have apple pie. She knew her children preferred the decadent, mouth-watering pie from only Renata’s, but they’d have to make do this time.
The sun was shining brilliantly above, and sweat began to form on her body. She wasn’t feeling well, and the last thing she wanted to do was loiter around these streets, but the happiness of her children mattered enormously to her. Despite it being the end of the month, and her budget a little too tight this month, she would get them those pies, and watch them devour them with delight on their faces. Her daughter was twelve, and her son was now thirteen. Something tightened painfully in her chest when she thought of them leaving the next one day. She wouldn’t cling to them because she wouldn’t be like one of those mothers, but she would be so lonely, with nothing but her own company.
So, she set out to buy apple pies, but there was something wrong with each of them. The pastry wasn’t baked well enough, it didn’t smell right, the pastry was too crumbly, and…the pies weren’t Renata’s. Tired of searching, she sat down on a little bench behind which some tourists were taking pictures. She stared at them for a while; they all looked so fresh, and jubilant, obviously enjoying the comforts and excitements of life. She felt an unwelcome pang of regret. Maybe if she hadn’t married so soon…
No, she couldn’t think like that, she admonished herself. The children were her entire world, they brought unmatched joy to her life, and she would have been so lonely after her sweetheart’s death, that she was glad to have had them. She kept up a string of reasons for not feeling remorse, but a part of her still wondered;
if she hadn’t had children, would she have looked like those tourists too?
The tourists had caught her staring, and had walked away after a few hushed whispers and nods in her direction. It was true she had let herself go, but she didn’t look that bad, did she? A look at her own reflection in the glass window of the shop had her shaking her head; yes, she did look bad. Her eyes were tinted pink from the infection, making her look like a stoner. Her lifeless hair hung limply down her back, which made her think of her daughter’s glorious mane of hair. She spent all her energy into making her kids look good, working, and providing for them that she had forgotten to take care of herself.
She shook off the feeling and went home empty handed. She was far too dizzy, and the sunlight hurt her sensitive eyes. She walked all the way back to her home, deciding exercise might do her some good. The moment she unlocked the door, the children came running to her.
The both began to bombard her with the question until she had to raise her hand to stop them. That’s when they noticed the lack of Renata’s packages. Excitement instantly turned to disdain.
“Mom, you never have time for us, you never get us what you want,”
“You’re always working, always too busy for us,”
“Do you even care about us?”
“Why do you have to be so selfish, why have children when you can’t take care of them?”
That was the last straw. The tears rushed out of her so fast, she could barely see. Snot dripped out of her nose, and she knew she looked like a mess but she didn’t care to put up an appearance for those two brats.
“I’ve worked myself to the bone for you too!” She pointed a finger at them, “I forgot about myself for you, I work two jobs to give you whatever you want, whatever whims you have, I fulfill them, and what do I get?”
“I get two snobby, spoiled brats who would prefer their “cool friends,” over me any day,” she accused, “do they feed you? Do they clothe you? Do they pay for the roof over your heads? No, they don’t because I do! Look at me! Look at how ugly I’ve become trying to nourish you! Your father would roll over in his grave if he could see what had become of his wife!”
She whirled toward her bedroom door and locked it behind her. She didn’t know how long she sobbed until she finally fell asleep. She felt much better when she woke up. She called Renata’s and asked if they could save two apple pies, and then, hesitantly, asked for another item. Systematically, she dialed the number of her friend and asked her to pick up the desserts.
The next day, the children found their apple pies on the kitchen table, but their mother was nowhere to be found, so they could deliver an apology.
She sat in her office, and slowly chewed on the brownies Renata’s owner had offered her.
She had never liked apple pies anyway.