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Periwinkle and Premonitions

a bakery tale

By M. A. Mehan Published about a year ago Updated about a year ago 7 min read
Runner-Up in Under Purple Clouds Challenge
Periwinkle and Premonitions
Photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky. It wasn’t much light, but for Annie, it was just enough. She walked quickly in the pale, plummy glow, going over and over the day before to find out where exactly she’d messed up. There was simply no reason for her to be working at midnight, and yet here she was, at the door of the bakery, at 12am sharp. She fumbled through her keys in the low light, yawning deeply.

The door chime was utterly too cheery as she stepped inside. A far-off smell of bread tickled her nose, and despite all her determination to be grumpy, it grounded and comforted her. There was truly no other place she’d rather be.

“Good morning,” she called into the darkness.

A sonorous snore answered.

Annie flipped on a light or two, revealing a small, single-roomed bakery with a long, L-shaped counter, a few stools, a few baking tools, and a massive wood-fired oven still wreathed in shadow. And sprawled across the floor, wings stretching lazily, was a copper-scaled, sleepy dragon the size of a dartmoor pony.

“You should’ve talked me out of starting a rise that early in the afternoon.” Annie scolded the dragon as it blinked at her slowly.

Patio the dragon narrowed her eyes at Annie as if to say ‘I told you so’.

“Well, we’re here now, and bread doesn't bake itself.” Annie traded her sunset orange cardigan for a dusty white apron. “The oven’s cold.”

She pulled the first of several dozen batches of rising sourdough. Generously flouring her hands and the butcher block counter, she coaxed the dough from their nests of linen-lined bannetons. She gave them all a quick knead and a little swirl of flour, then lined them up on a giant paddle to await the bake.

By Claudia Stucki on Unsplash

Meanwhile, Patio slunk over to the oven and with a huff and a puff, blasted green fire into the belly of the brick beast. The temperature in the tiny building rose as she intermittently belched bursts of heat and flame. Finally, satisfied with her work, she shook herself like a dog, scales rippling like molten metal in the eerie cast of the flames.

“Thank you, love.” With repetitive, practiced slashes, Annie scored the dough and with a heave and a shove, slid the paddle and its passengers into the oven.

Patio flared her nostrils and baptized the loaves with a spurt of steam as Annie shut the door.

“And now,” she announced through a yawn, “The waiting.”

The small clock on the wall counted the crawling hour as Annie tried to stay awake. Patio was asleep again already, her bulk taking up most of the space between where Annie perched on the counter and the door to the lavender world outside.

By Melanie Magdalena on Unsplash

Bleary-eyed, she once again berated herself for letting yesterday get the better of her. If she wanted to avoid more stupid-o-clock in the morning bakes, she’d have to get a hold of herself and her racing mind. It had been the bakery’s busiest day yet, and she’d sold out of loaves for the first time in… well, ever. In an attempt to make it up to the afternoon regulars who’d missed the rush, she’d promised an extra batch set aside just for them, and began a new mix then and there as if to solidify her vow. Well-meant, but ultimately, very bad for her sleep schedule.

She scrubbed at the worry lines etched across her forehead, trying to figure out where in her morning she could sneak in a nap. By the time this surprise dozen was done, she’d have less than two hours before she’d have to start the second - usually the first - batch and complete the numerous other little chores that had to be done before the “OPEN” sign could light up.

"This is my dream life." Annie muttered, the mantra feeling threadbare on her tongue.

The rosy colors of a dream tended to fade a bit in the transition to reality.

Patio awoke with a snort, sniffing the air.

“Done?” Annie scooted off the counter and opened the oven door, bracing herself for the wave of heat.

Twelve golden-brown loaves of sourdough sat squat and perfect inside.

A minute later they sat on the counter, filling the space with a hearty aroma.

Patio grumbled approvingly, wings quivering in anticipation.

“You have to wait.” Annie said firmly, as if her own mouth wasn’t watering.

It was bakery tradition; Every day, without fail, Annie and Patio shared the first of the day’s loaves. Every day, Patio tried to wheedle her way into getting her share that much earlier. And every day, Annie had to fend off a hungry dragon with the patience of an avalanche.

By Fernando Delgado on Unsplash

After ten long, agonizing minutes, Annie’s resolve crumbled. She picked up a knife and cut deep into the bread, Patio’s emerald eyes watching her every move.

The door chime jangled. “Delivery!” someone called.

Annie and Patio whirled like kids caught in the cookie jar.

A short blonde with a grin much too wide for that early in the morning stood in the doorway, holding two massive mugs.

It was Jen, the young barista from the coffee shop next door.

“I thought I smelled your bread!” She plunked a yellow mug engraved with a nine-tailed fox down in front of Annie. “I got to the shop early and figured you’d need a little something extra this morning.”

“Oh bless you, you are the most amazing…” Annie cut herself off with a long swig of latte. White chocolate and hazelnut. Heavenly.

In thanks, she sawed off an extra slice of bread, ignoring the death-glare Patio leveled at her. Offering it to Jen, she pulled out the stool next to her.

Jen gave a little squeak of delight and sunk her teeth into the thick hunk of sourdough. “If I could eat just this for the rest of my life,” she said, mouth full, “I’d die a happy woman.”

Patio snatched the remaining halves from the counter and gobbled down the hot bread with a chomp and a swallow.

“What a delicate lady you are, Patio.” Annie rolled her eyes.

Jen watched the dragon eye the remaining, still-steaming bread longingly. “I don’t think you’ve ever told me the story behind her name.”

“Yeah… it’s actually Molten Patio Furniture McGee, named after the first time we met, which was when she landed in my yard and barfed brimstone all over my yard.”

Jen laughed as Patio flicked her tail, the dragon pointedly deigning not to look at either of them.

“Despite my screaming at her, she decided to stick around and next thing I know I have a dragon living in my backyard. I found out she liked sourdough about a month later, I left a loaf out to rise on the - replacement - table on the patio and when I went to check on it, I found her snout-deep in dough and entirely unrepentant.”

“And the rest is history.” Jen finished for her. She was still grinning when a massive shudder shook her. “Whoo. That…”

“Are you ok?” Annie put a hand on Jen’s shoulder. The woman was shivering.

“Um, yeah, sorry, s-sorry.” She kept her hands clutched tight around her mug, her knuckles white against the soft green ceramic. “I get these-” she waved her hand around. “Premonitions sometimes.”

By Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

Patio stared at her curiously. It was not an expression Annie had seen very often.

“They’re not all bad,” Jen was quick to assure them. “Sometimes it’s really good.”

“You can see the future?” Annie ventured.

“Not exactly.” Jen took a bite of bread and chewed slowly. “I get feelings, not visions, of what is to come. And something very… exciting is going to happen here. Today.”

A knot settled in Annie’s throat. “Good exciting or bad exciting?”

“Good,” Jen said, a little too brightly. “Good, I’m sure of it.”

Exciting for her was waking up at midnight to bake bread. She wasn’t sure she wanted the kind of exciting that gave an over-caffeinated maybe-psychic-barista chills.

“Well.” Annie guzzled the last of her drink. It was still ridiculously early, but the summer sky was beginning to turn a warm periwinkle. She had bread to bake and a long day to face. “I’ve had a coffee, and I’m surrounded by enough bread to make Bigfoot himself fat and happy. I think I can handle whatever new adventure is coming with the sun. Thanks for the latte, Jen, tell Sunny I’ll be in later for another.”

“Anytime,” Jen said, looking crestfallen. “I’m sorry, Annie, I didn’t mean to scare you, I was just trying to make your morning a little nicer…”

“You did,” she assured her, with a genuine smile. “I wouldn’t have made it much longer without a good dose of caffeine and a chat with a friend."

Jen returned her smile, albeit a shakier version. “Thanks Annie, come by anytime and your latte’s on me.” She darted out the door and down the sidewalk.

“What do you think, Patio?” Annie looked down at the dragon, who was lounging behind the counter, flicking her tail dangerously close to the loaves on the counter.

Green eyes leveled with her own. ‘Bread’.


After all, bread doesn’t bake itself.

Young AdultShort StorySeriesHumorFantasy

About the Creator

M. A. Mehan

"It simply isn't an adventure worth telling if there aren't any dragons." ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

storyteller // vampire // drink goblin // arizona desert rat

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