It was all quite very fateful, that day I stumbled upon that quaint little shop. I was pulled in by it’s attractive decor, not caring or giving a second thought to what might be in store.
As a child born into a family that ran a chain of sweets franchises, I grew up in an environment that fully endowed me with every possible sensation that sugar could evoke.
Normally you’d think that my life would be a child’s dream come true, but I soon became to detest the very place I was raised in.
To improve a product, my family business was always eager to put to test their newest creations. As a child at the time, I was the perfect specimen because I fit into the desired age group.
I would be subjugated to tasting sweets, but only if it was to my accord. At first, I relished that sugary paradise. The great varieties presented to me were unimaginably wonderful, so marvelous that in fact I had received countless cavities throughout my childhood. My toothbrush and floss supplies would be replenished on a regular basis.
All in all, I was living in any young one’s dream: the carefree life of sweet delicacies.
Once I grew older, I began to distance myself from anything that contained sugar; I would avoid it like the plague. My palette had become so resistant to the mere smell of candy that I was too disgusted to even enter my own family’s store without holding my breath.
My parents had attempted to accommodate my circumstances. They could sympathize with my allergic reaction, but I sensed deep down that they were nothing short of being disappointed with their only child.
It was their life’s dream to create sweets that would bring smiles and happiness to its customers. Just like my childhood days when I happily indulged myself in sugary delicacies.
One day I would have to rise and take charge of the company; it was only natural. If only I hadn’t developed such a repulsive inhibition that quickly dashed the hopes of my beloved parents.
…it was that very day that was the catalyst for change.
Walking along the paved concrete, I passed many boutiques, bakeries, cafés, and restaurants. With just a glance I brushed them all aside; they held no interest for me.
Today I wasn’t on a sort of quest for anything, I was just strolling across the neighborhood, hoping for some escape from the hellish place that was my home.
You see, my house is not your average domain as it comes equipped with chemical labs and specialized kitchen appliances that allow my parents, and their employees, to work on new recipes whenever they’re not in the office.
Today was a day-off for my parents, but they were evidently too absorbed with their work to stop their experimenting for even a minutes’ worth.
It is quite normal for them to work relentlessly. Actually, I’d say it’d be extremely worrying if they didn’t behave like so.
And so you have it, that is why I chose to spend the day outside of my beloved house.
I had attempted to ring up some friends, but to no avail. It was a Saturday afternoon and my girlfriends were unbelievably busy as always.
I never got to spend many outings with them due to my strange distaste, so I tended to wander towards the arcade centers in hopes of passing time via crushing unsuspecting males. It was a small sadistic trait that I enjoyed dearly.
So I walked block after block in that large downtown shopping district. I didn’t give a second thought to what I ought to do, all I knew was that I wanted to find something fun, something interesting.
Perhaps it was by chance, but I had happened to catch sight of a gorgeous little bakery on the corner of a side street. It was dressed in pure and vibrant colors, shaded by a great awning that held their sign.
It was such a common name, even though it was in another language. And still, I was oddly drawn towards it, like a magnet to a strong metal surface.
The interior was by far more astounding, to say the least. Although the little shop had little chairs and tables, the delectable displays of bread pastries, and the seductive aroma of freshly baked goods was enticing enough to make one salivate.
I perused the different galleries, row after row. Yet I was disappointed to see that none had caught my eye, nor my stomach. It was sad to admit that such an appealing franchise could not give to me what I truly yearned for: the taste of sweet happiness.
A young lady tended to the cashier and counters while a young man coursed back and forth carrying out trays of freshly baked bread
There were many customers coming and going, so I wasn’t surprised by the amount of inventory they had put out.
“Is there anything you would like, Miss?”
The young man’s voice had startled me. Apparently I had been stationary for far too long, lost in thought and analysis.
He looked at me with green searing eyes. His gaze seemed to urge myself to make a selection. I was compelled by a mysterious, but overwhelming sensation to meet the expectations given.
I moved closer to the display and quickly decided on the safest treat I could probably handle, a crispy bun.
This type of pastry had little to no added sweetness, with the exception of the crusty layer on top of it.
I purchased the small but inviting delicacy and promptly took a seat inside their little pastry shop.
The smell coming off of the bun was certainly aromatic, in a sensual sort of way that begged my palette for a taste. My mind, however, was stating clearly:
“Don’t do it.”
I could not deny my reluctance to eat that crusty layer of sweet crushed topping.
Taking it into my hands, I brought the warm bun towards my mouth. At the same time both eagerly awaiting it’s taste and denying its appeal.
It was now or never.
…But I couldn’t do it.
The moment my lips touched that sweet crispy layer, I couldn’t hold back my instinctive reaction and I dropped the bun onto the floor.
The young lady looked over in worry and shock but the young man just stared at me, piercing me with those emerald eyes.
“I-I’m so sorry, I can’t seem to handle sweet things all too well.”
That was all I could say…aloud. Yet my palette was screaming in rejection to it. My bizarre dislike of sugar had overtaken me and instead of giving this promising pastry a chance, I threw it away as if it were nothing but a useless treat.
“…Is that true? You don’t like sweets?”
The young man continued his unrelenting stare. I was paralyzed as a wave of shame overtook my entire being. But in that instant I wanted to get away, so very far away…
I ran out of the shop without another word. Towards a horizon I did not know of, in a direction I knew nothing of.
A hand grabbed me in midst of my frantic promenade down the busy afternoon streets.
It was the young baker.
“Come back again.”
I didn’t understand the context to which he said that. All I could do was stare back in great confusion.
But he continued once more.
“Come back and try something new. I promise that I’ll make something that you’ll like.”
His grasp on my arm was firm and his face was nothing if not determined. I nodded slowly as if somehow registering his incomprehensible actions.
We parted ways that day, promising to meet again another time.
Days rolled into weeks, weeks balled up into months. Time passed inadvertently as I continued to frequent that little pastry shop.
Each time I entered the young lady at the counters would call out the young man. His name was Daryl and he was about the same age as I was, which meant he was a high schooler.
He brought out a new creation every time I paid a visit. He never betrayed a single expression on his face until I had attempted to eat it.
His treats would range from tarts, donuts, buns, cakes, mousses and even pudding.
From day one till just recently, he had failed to make anything that I could bear eating.
This failure rate was of course due to his intentional effort of placing an obvious sweet trademark in his recipes for me.
I couldn’t understand what he could be thinking, forcing me to confront sweets each time he laid a pastry before me.
But that too soon grew wearisome, and my guard began to fade away with each passing trial. I couldn’t fathom rejecting so many of his delicacies, it felt wrong to deem something inedible just because of a mere ingredient.
Daryl wouldn’t complain about my pickiness and would merely spectate and handle the clean-up afterwards. When I didn’t eat his newest creation, he merely ate it himself and returned to his stove, leaving with only a simple request:
“Please come again.”
On a certain day, I resolved to eat whatever he should place in front of me.
That day I stalked towards that familiar pastry shop, in high hopes of finally meeting his expectations.
Upon entering the establishment, I was surprised to see him waiting for me at the doorway. As per usual, he had an unreadable facial expression.
He quickly seated me and muttered:
“I’ll be back with your special order.”
I sat there normally, waiting for the challenge. I could feel the adrenaline coursing throughout my entire body, I was eager to finally overcome this technicality. Oblivious to everything else, I concentrated on the task at hand, motivating myself to succeed.
Daryl returned from the back with an odd cover on top of a tray. This was unusual as he didn’t normally bother hiding his creation. This seemed somewhat bashful, or even reserved.
He placed his tray onto my table and took the seat opposite of me.
That was even more shocking. Never had he ever taken a seat for he had always stood like a server, waiting for feedback.
He lifted the cover and revealed a tall glass, a parfait sized glass to be exact.
I stared at the parfait, somewhat bewildered by the odd challenge. If anything, this was the epitome of sweetness: my worst nemesis of all. Within that white texture, he could have hidden countless sugary varieties that would be enough to K.O me on the spot.
He looked at me with an eager but reserved patience. I could tell he wanted me to try it, his eyes said it all.
I took the spoon and lifted it slowly towards my mouth, quivering as I anticipated the overly sweet tastes that would soon overcome my palette.
…I didn’t think I could do it. I was quickly succumbing to my nausea.
In that instant, he pushed the spoon into my slightly open mouth. My eyes opened wide as I realized just what had transpired.
The milky, but creamy texture of the vanilla ice cream slowly slid onto my tongue and the small bits of chocolate swirled around, subtly, as they melted together. The sour tang of the small piece of strawberry coerced with the sweetness, both flavors overtaking my palette. My tongue remained immobile as it noted the different tastes it encountered.
I closed my eyes and prayed dearly not to crudely spit it out, but it was unnecessary. I tasted and swallowed that first bite with ease, to my very astonishment.
Daryl looked at me thereafter, with an expression I had never seen before.
“…You finally ate it.”
His eyes were tender and smiling as his mouth curved into a grin I’d never seen before.
“Was it sweet?” he had asked.
I nodded but I never stopped making eye contact with him. I wanted to burn the memory of his smile into my heart forever. Never had I ever seen such a look of total satisfaction. It was breathtaking and it rendered me speechless.
“Hey, it’s going to melt if you don’t finish it.”
He took the spoon, still in my hand, and indirectly made me feed him a spoonful of the parfait. Smiling lightly as he savored the taste and my reaction combined.
He kept his hand on mine, and I felt as though our eyes shared an emotion that I had never been aware of until now.
I dropped the spoon and pulled his hand towards me, our faces fast approaching.
I kissed him in that empty pastry shop, the taste of the parfait still lingering between our lips.
Parting briefly after that shared moment, my eyes wandered down towards the chocolate plaque I had not seen earlier atop the parfait glass.
Looking back at him with affectionate eyes, I replied softly:
“Happy Valentines Day, Daryl.”
He smiled warmly in response before taking my hand into his once more and kissing it softly.