Saturday, January 06, 2007

Imperfection, Chapter 7

Thanks to Tim for help with car names, as i know nothing about them at all.


I rested my head gingerly on the counter.

I hate them.

What time is it?


Early June to the middle of July. The busiest time all year. Already, there were couples roaming the street. How did they get here so early? HOW???

The little bell over the door rang, and I snapped up, expecting a frantic Couple. Instead, I got a very work-ethic-looking woman with a blonde ponytail and a suit jacket. In 85 degree weather? She was sporting a Palm Pilot, stylus poised. She was even wearing lip liner.

This was not going to end well.

"Hello," she said in a short, clipped, slightly frantic voice. "I'm Elizabeth."

"Huh." Something in her face told me that this wasnt the right answer. Oh, wait. "I mean...hi. Welcome to--"

"I'm here to ask about a wedding cake?" she inturrupted. "I was planning on having the caterers make it, but they said that they didnt do that. Then they reccomended me to here. That's very odd, you know. They don't do that in New York."

"You live in New York and you came here for your wedding?" I asked. I know, i'm an idiot, but it really didnt process at the time.

"Lived. Lived in New York," she corrected herself, sounding even more hurried/semihysterical. "I'm having a little trouble adapting to the past tense, now that we've"

"Alright. So you say that you want cake?"

She must have read my expression, because she immediatley said, "I DO have a husband. His name is Paul. He's just not here. Because he had to close a deal. A deal with a major company. An important deal with an important company."

"That's...nice," I said, wondering why she was sharing this with a random adolesent that she had met two minutes ago.

"More important," she grabbed a handful of napkins on a nearby table and started crumpling them into little balls, "than his FIANCE. More important than the fact that we're getting MARRIED and everyone is coming and we need a CAKE."

"That's...that's too bad." I had no clue what to do, because she seemed on the brink of tears. Or hyperventilating. "Would you like to...sit down for a minute?"

She smiled shakily. "That would be good. But--" she checked her Palm Pilot again "--not for very long. I have an appointment."


"And then he tells me that he can't make it to the dinner, that he has THINGS TO DO," Elizabeth called from across the store two hours later.

"Uh-huh," I mumbled. I had figured out that this was all that was needed from me. Some people might consider it a handicap, to have a weepy 25-year-old woman pouring her problems all over you, but i had gotten used to it. I could write down the demands of various Couples, text messege Melissa, ring people up, remind myself that tomorrow was Friday and i wouldnt have to work for three days, and say "Uh-huh" at the same time.

Ring. Ring.

It was the phone upstairs. My parents were baking. My sisters were out again.

I told Elizabeth to entertain any customers that came (hey, if she was just going to sit there, she might as well be useful) and ran up the stairs, trying to beat the machine.

"Hi, you've reached the Stewart family phone," Erin's perfect flight-attendant/secretary voice rang out from the base of the phone. "If you're looking for the Stewart Bakery, press one to be redirected to our buisness line. If not, leave a messege after the beep." Beeeeeeeeep.

"Uh, hey." Who was that? They sounded familiar. "This is, uh, Dan..."

I gasped a little, which i found pretty stupid and movie-ish, but i didnt think he was going to call me back.

"...I'm calling for Catie...I'm assuming this is your phone number, cuz, you know, that's what it said on the box....I mean...wait. I meant that that's what it said on the caller ID. Um, if this isn't Catie, sorry, but I just wanted to ask you..."

I was being such a GIRL, because I swear to God, i thought that he was going to ask...well, something other than he did.

"...if you have any, um, job openings at your store? Cuz I kind of need some money, and, well, it seemed like a good place to start. Uh, yeah, so, call me back when you get this. Oh! And--"

Beeeeeep. The machine cut him off, and I felt like lunging at the phone and doing that star-69 thing (our phone is ancient and has no caller ID) to call him back and figure out what he was about to say. He was probably just trying to leave his number. Duh.

...oh, crap. Elizabeth.

I walked back downstairs, expecting to find wreckage. Instead, I found a small miracle. She was talking to another woman who had walked in, also sans husband but wearing an engagement ring. The similarities sort of ended there, as the non-Elizabeth fiance was very hippy-chick-looking, but they seemed to be having a very heartfelt conversation.

"I mean, like a concert is more important that a wedding," she was saying angrily.

"A buisness meeting isn't more important either!"

"A stupid concert. What is it, The Rolling Stone's 50th last show?"

"And it's a stupid buisness meeting, too. Who cares about the future of the chip industry?"

"There's a chip industry?"

"Uh," I inturrupted cleverly, "can I help you?"

The hippy-chick turned to me. "Oh, I just wanted to get a cake or something." Then she continued bitching like that's why she was here.

I finally got the specifics for both of their cakes (Hippy Chick seemed disappointed that we didnt have organic apple frosting, but life is full of disappointments, and anyways it's not like we weren't already putting granola and rasins on it) and they went out to have lunch or something.

And then there was a lull. It's not like I jumped all over the phone to call Dan or anything. Except for that i did, but hey, who cares about the details?

"He's not home," his mom said after an excrutiating greeting, "but i can give you his cell phone number. If it is for a job."

"Oh, definatley," I said, trying to sound older. "He just contacted us this morning, and we are desperatley in need of some help." Hah! Take that, Erin!

"Well, okay." She gave me his number and we hung up.

As I dialed, a car pulled up in front of the store. A really nice, expensive-looking car, too (don't ask me which kind. I'm hopeless at that kind of thing). I craned my neck to see who was getting out. That girl looked kinda...

Oh my God. It was Emmalee. And there was Erin, right on her side, both wearing big bug-eye sunglasses, two guys in the front seats. As they got out, the car drove away way faster than the 25 MPH speed limit.


I directed my attention away from the window. "Hey. This is Catie."

"Oh, hey!" Well, he sounded friendlier than before. "Did you get my message?"

"Yeah, but you got cut off at the end."

"Oh, that was my cell number. So how did you..." He trailed off.


"You didn't call my house did you?"


He sighed a little. "Did my mom say anything to you?"

"Um, she...gave me your number?" The twins strode into the store and made their way towards the door. "Hey, where have you guys been?"

"None of your buisness," Erin retorted.


"No, not you, my...ugh...sisters..." I looked up after them. "I told your mom about the job and that okay?"

"Actually, yeah, that's better. Anytime a girl calls me it's always a big thing."

"Oh. Well, I have to check with my parents, but they'll probably be thrilled." Not as thrilled as me, I almost said, but realized just in time that that could be very, very misinterperated.


"Alright, so...bye. I'll call you and tell you when you can start."


I hung up and frowned. Not at Dan, but at the memory of my sisters getting out of that car and the fact that I hadn't heard them boasting any new, rich boyfriends latley.

"Porche?" I said out loud, just as Erin was walking down into the store.


"Oh, nothing, it's just..." It made more sense to go for Erin than Emmalee. "It's just that that car you guys were getting out of looked like a Porche, maybe?"

"BMW," she said casually. I realized she was pulling on a pink apron. Huh. "Porche doesn't fit four."

"Oh," I said, wondering where this sudden knowlege of cars and, well, anything, had come from. "Well, that's...fancy. You guys have new boyfriends or something?"

"Actually--" She stopped short and looked up at me suddenly. There was this look of "oh, crap" in her eyes, and she glared at me, flipping her hair over her shoulder. "Who appointed you my mother?"

Appointed? That was three whole syllables. This had to be something big, that not even Erin would give it away.

For the rest of the day, I left the subject alone. It was easier to work without having to bicker.

But for the rest of the day, I kept seeing silver BMWs speeding down for the road.

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