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Should I Tell Her?
Should I Tell Her?
Richard nearly dropped the pastries he was carrying when he saw her.
Susannah, he thought. She still looks so much like her mother.
Then he saw the boy. His sandy brown hair, muscular arms, but average frame showed that he must be an athlete. Richard was instantly curious as to what was going on, so he hurried up dropping off and passing out powder sugar covered and icing-glazed pastries, for the current family he was serving, that his favorite bakery was best known for.
Then she caught his eye from across the room. She saw past the couple or four seated tables, mostly filled with families. She didn’t pay attention to the sweet aroma of newly baked bread. Her attention was solely on Richard. Until she blushed and scurried away to find a table.
He knew, as soon as she saw him, that she’d recognized him. Or, at least she thought she recognized him. He was lucky that his buddy Andy was so good with that knife of his. Sure he had to steal the money to get the plastic surgery, but how else is a fugitive supposed to stay hidden?
But she still knew it was him. He could see it in Susannah’s eyes that she recalled him taking out his anger and sorrow on her. But she didn’t know the feeling of losing someone, at least, Richard hoped she didn’t. He hoped that someday she would forgive him. He wished he could tell her that this was him, the sole object she would always be afraid of, and she wouldn’t run away screaming. Back then, he just wanted her to know the pain she caused him every time he saw her. Of how much sorrow she gave him because she looked so much like his Eliza. The same dark hair, same gray-green-brown eyes. But even with his features in her, the soft waves, his sharp jawline, softened by her mother’s cheekbones, she still looked like Eliza.
But he couldn’t think about that now. He had a job to do. As he neared them, he opened with,
“Hello, may I take your order?”
The boy, Michael apparently, ordered one of their more popular baguettes in the bakery and it wrenched Richard’s heart to hear Susannah squeak out her favorite order: chocolate chip cookies.
Richard wondered why she looked so nervous, even after he went to give the order to the baker. She was squirming, while the boy looked at her adoringly. Richard noticed that this boy, Michael, had opened the wooden double door for her and pulled out a chair as well. He assumed they were on a date.
By the time the order was ready, Richard was zoned out, lost in painful memories of slowly watching his Eliza die. The baker, Botticelli, a portly man with slicked back, oily hair tied up in the back, had to yell at him three times before he’d captured Richard’s attention.
“Rick! Rick! RICK! Hello?! Here, get yer order and bring it o’er thar t’ table numb’r sev’n.”
“All right, all right! Don’t get your apron in a twist!” Richard yelled back.
As he brings their order over to them, he finds out that this boy, Michael, is asking her out on a date… at the bakery. At his favorite place to eat, Botticelli’s Pastries. Where he used to take his little girl, and she would eat at least five chocolate chip cookies, because he didn’t want to cause her pain, he didn’t mean to hurt her. Yet, it was also a way to let go of the pain, there was so much, even if it never went away. He loved his Eliza, and he loved his little girl. And it hurt, as he brought them their food, to see that Susannah was still wary of him being him. She still suspected Richard’s presence.
“Here you go, five chocolate chip cookies and a fresh-out-of-the-oven baguette,” Richard said.
After they both said their thanks, Susannah’s voice still shaky, Richard hurried back, and tried to take his mind off of Susannah. He didn’t bother picking up the tips at the tables. He didn’t mind Botticelli yelling at him in his southern accent and rough, gravelly voice. But soon, he couldn’t help it. He looked and stood there, watching them talk, like they were just getting to know each other. And when they got up to leave, he almost went after her. Almost went to go to her and apologize. Maybe he would follow her. Maybe he could get off early and watch for her, see if she would walk by.
Then he noticed the old, colorful, purse.
That purse was one of his Eliza’s most beloved keepsakes. She cherished it so much before she died. She must have left it for Susannah before she died of cancer. She was so young, too young. Things like that shouldn’t end a twenty-seven-year-olds life. Richard had a sudden realization that his little girl was growing up without him. He told the baker he was taking a break, snatched the purse, and sprinted out the door. He had to get it to her. He had to.
He noticed her and the boy, walking up to the old, run down theater that somehow managed to still be open. But before they could enter, he sped up to her and grabbed her shoulder. When she noticed him, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped. She trembled and waited as he stood there, panting, trying to catch his breath. He wasn’t as young as he once was.
“Just a second… Here… Here… Here. This is your purse, I presume?” He said.
“Yes, yes. Thank you. Where did you find it?” her voice was hoarse and breathy.
“You… You left it at the bakery.” Richard replied, then added, “I’m so sorry Susannah. I never wanted to hurt you.”
Then he walked away.