Today's prompt is from Sarah Selecky. Write a scene that involves the following: a loaf of white bread, a tassel, and a paper crane.
He grabbed a fistful of flour and sprinkled it onto the clean table, feet away from the hanging tassel but miles away in his thoughts. As he added another handful of flour, he relived the day when she had graduated, the tassel swinging in front of her brilliant green eyes as she'd glanced around at the crowd of people surrounding her. He'd congratulated her, then stepped back to allow others to do the same. Her smile said she would make time for him, after. But he'd been crowded out by the others, pushed farther and farther from her until he had turned, shoved his hands deep into his pockets, and walked away.
He blinked. The fluffy mound of flour sitting before him recalled him to his task. He scooped out the center of the mound, making a crater which he then filled with the cup of warm sugar water that had been waiting in a small blue bowl. He sprinkled two teaspoons of yeast on top, covering the surface of his inactive volcano, and leaned a hip against the table to pass the ten minutes needed for the yeast to react by staring out the window.
His mind wandered back to that day. She had come by later, still wearing her cap and her smile, but had stayed for only a moment. It was the last time he had seen her until their run-in at the sandwich shop two days ago.
He glanced down. The yeast was barely starting to bubble, taking on the appearance of sickly yellow warts on watery skin. But it was enough; the yeast was good. He carefully filled the crater with flour until he was certain the water wouldn't break through his mound; then he stuck his hand into the mound and squeezed, the squishy mix seeping between his fingers. He grabbed more flour and worked faster, mixing and kneading and adding until the dough no longer stuck to the table. He slipped the dough into the now-dry blue bowl and covered it with a faded yellow towel, then set it in the warm sunlight to rise while he cleaned up his table.
An hour later, he dumped the dough back onto the table, pounding and stretching until he was satisfied with the texture, folded it and placed it into the waiting pan. He glanced at the clock as he set it into the corner oven's purple flame, and nodded once. It would be ready.
When the bell chimed the opening of his shop door, the perfectly browned loaf lay on the table under the towel.
"Dave," she said with a smile.
"I can't stay long." She glanced around at the shop, her eyes stopping on the tassels. "Oh, I wondered where that had gone." She moved to retrieve it, but paused when she saw towel.
"Yes. It's for you."
Unable to check her curiosity for even a second, she moved to the table, gasping as the towel slid to reveal the loaf. Her eyes shot to his face, searching. He searched hers in return, taking in the slightly tanned skin, the dark lashes, the lushness of her bottom lip.
Without looking away, he slid the knife across the table to her. Their fingers touched as she took it.
this time she moved with confidence, but he remembered when she used to ask where she should slice the loaf, looking at him doubtfully when he replied that she should cut wherever she wished.
She centered the knife three-quarters of the way from the end and the knife slipped easily through the warm bread. She stepped back to wait.
Nothing happened. She glanced back at him, her eyebrows knit together and her lips turned down at the corners. When he didn't move, she dropped her gaze back to the loaf. Then she gasped.
A paper crane, its head the color of the blue sky, wings the color of African violets, tail the color of sunlight, and eyes the color of his heart, rose into the air. Her face lit with wonder and pleasure, and she held out her hand, palm up. The crane drifted silently into it.
Table photo from here