The Chocolatiers

I was working in the basement again, studying for a math test. I heard someone walking, no, skipping down the steps. My sister, Lucia, peered over the computer and saw me hunched over the computer keys. She sighed.
“EMILY!!!” she cried, exasperated. “You’re working AGAIN?”

This wasn’t the first time that she had yelled at me. Lucia now often complains that I spend my time locked up in the basement, doing homework. According to her, I’ve become “boring.” Instead, she says, we should be working in the chocolate shop.

When we were little, we were once world-renowned chocolatiers. We made pastries, custards, cakes, and everything you could think of for the Queen of England. Our greatest wish was to please the Queen, and always made sure she got her baked goods by teatime. We had our own little shop, an oven, and even a “chocolate maker.” We were the best makers of chocolate in the world.

This was all a fantasy. The Queen was, and still is, living across the ocean. Our shop was the basement of our house. The basement was the complete opposite of our dream bakery; the carpet was stained, the walls were a pale olive green, and spiders constantly inhabited the corners of the ceiling. The oven was an old, obnoxiously red plastic bench, and the “chocolate maker” was a tricycle laid on its back. These things became the basis of our career. By using our imagination, we had created a separate chocolate fantasy.

This was when my sister and I were carefree. Back then, we didn’t have to worry about the real world. I only cared about meeting the Queen’s deadline and making sure that I didn’t get my head chopped off. I loved whipping up imaginary creations because it was easy. After all, everything was in our minds. Now that I’m older, some of my imagination as disappeared.

Our chocolate cafe was the center of our world. We could imagine the smells, wafting into the streets, beckoning customers to try out famous pastries. The smooth and sweet chocolate, the crumbly texture of piecrust, the tartness of a fruit tart – they all came to us naturally. We knew what real, fluffy, whipped cream tasted like, even if we’d only had the fake, lumpy kind before. Now, if I tried to spend a day conjuring up invisible cakes, I’d probably die of boredom.

After a few years, we decided to “close” the shop. We had gotten busy, and didn’t have time to entertain the Queen any longer. Sometimes I wish we could go back to those times.

I usually get mad when she accuses me of working too much. She wouldn’t understand – all she cares about is her own happiness. She’s now in fifth grade, and her sea of imagination shows no sign of drying up. No normal fifth grader spends their time sewing clothes for stuffed animals, folding origami for teachers, stitching fabric flowers for friends, or whatever Lucia does in her spare time. For her, her suddenly boy-crazy friends have all but become strangers.

But maybe she’s right – sometimes you do need to stop what you’re doing, and live a little. You can’t forget the fantasies, because as you grow older, that little spark of imagination will disappear forever. Maybe our old chocolate shop was the only way we could save our childhood, and not become victims of the real world. Perhaps someday we’ll decide to reopen up the shop, and start making our famous baked specialties for the Queen again.





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