Loaves of bread.
Oh God in heaven, if he was still up there, the loaves of bread.
Glimmering through the plate glass shop window. Shining in the morning sun. Round loaves. Braided loaves. Long, golden, crusty spears. Loaves with seeds deckling scored tops. A few special loaves, marbled with cinnamon.
Cinnamon. When was the last time Greta had tasted cinnamon?
Stacks, and stacks, and stacks of fresh baked bread.
The door opened onto the sidewalk, announced with a clanging bell. The scent of yeast and warmth and goodness rose on the cool autumn air, moist from the Hudson river. It wreathed Greta’s head.
She almost fainted from it. She could almost taste the memory of butter.
Her stomach was too empty to even growl in response. There had been nothing but weak cabbage broth and a sprouting potato or two heated over an alley fire. One piece of stale brown bread and some lentils after standing in line for an hour, jostled by men.
A woman stared at her through the plate glass window, corners of her mouth turned down, not wanting to face the dirt and hunger Greta knew was staring back at her. The woman had sleek dark hair, pulled neatly back into a bun. Her face was rounded. Rounded like a loaf of bread. Rounded, soft and curved, from her face, to the bosom under her dark dress and white apron. Rounded to her hips.
Greta hadn’t felt round in what seemed like years. The woman looked away. Greta’s own reflection stared back from the window. Gaunt. Hollow. Sharp. Hair pale and wispy around her face, straggling from beneath a scrap of fading blue felt that once looked like a hat.
At least she’d washed at a fountain this morning, after waking up from her nest of cardboard in the lee of the foundry.
Blinking at the broad plate of glass, she saw now that she’d missed a spot. More than a spot. A streak of dirt ran up her cheek, pointing toward one blue eye.
She snuck a corner of wool blanket up, to rasp at her skin, hoping to wipe the stripe from her face. [Read more…] about Generosity: Free Fiction