Here is an extract from ‘Scrubbing Up’ from SHORT DATES.
It was a beautiful morning as I cycled past the River Cam with my hair blowing freely behind me and the pedals spinning around frantically. I was hopefully going to make it in time for opening but I was cutting it short, without a doubt. Around me, hundreds of students were making their way to their lectures. I was not the only cyclist on the road. In fact, there seemed to be more of us pedal pushers than there were drivers. We all sped along like an army of buzzing bees, heading in the same direction, but breaking off now and again in swarms, in search of nectar. The students’ nectar was different to mine though. They longed for facts and figures. I, however, simply wanted to get through the day so that I could go home again and work on my song writing.
Making it to work just in time for opening, I slipped my apron on and tied back my hair, pulling poses in the mirror before edging into the café area and lifting the chairs off of the tables ready for the day. The cakes were there as usual, most of them freshly baked. Cream cakes, sponge cakes, slices of carrot, lemon and walnut cakes. Big cakes and small cakes, sugary cakes and sugar-free cakes. They smelled so delicious that it was always hard to resist them for long. Thankfully Mark, the baker, had left a few bits for me and I stuffed down some fractions of chocolate eclairs before meandering over to the front door and opening the café, shoving a large A-frame into the street, advertising our latest tempting offers.
It was always a bit slow to start with but you could count on Vera, the eighty four year old lady from down the road, to always be the first one to come in every morning. She bought a cheesecake today and I took care to wrap it carefully as we had our regular chat. She asked me if Alex had texted me and I told her that he had written a few nasties last night as usual. We discussed how badly men had treated us and we laughed about how love wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.
Vera had been married for thirty years when she discovered her husband had a child with another woman and had been seeing her behind Vera’s back for almost as long as they had been married. I had relayed to her my six months of dating Alex and how false he had turned out to be. After I got round to dumping him, he texted me daily, quite pathetically, begging me to take him back. But Vera and I both knew that he only wanted to regain the power as he couldn’t stand the idea of being the one who was dumped. We reckoned if I had taken him back he would have soon split with me to show me he was in charge after all.