Cloves and cinnamon filled the dust-covered kitchen in clouds, wafting through every empty space and crevice. Ants pattered around the floor, which was anything but modern in style, and looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned since it was first installed. Flour dotted the surface, like the first snow in late November, or perhaps even the dandruff of a large dog. Petite Patent Leathers danced through the powder, jigging about and twirling to the tunes of saxophone, piano, and drum humming through the outdated speaker atop the microwave. Her apron swirled about, hair falling loose from the banana clip in the back of her head. The picture of pure glee in simplicity. The oven mitts securely in hand and baking powder on the oversized floral blouse, as she pranced about her kitchen, without a care in the world. The timer beeped, and she drifted towards the ancient gas-burning stove, mitts at the ready. Open went the metal door, and out came the warm, crumb-topped muffins, sugar crystalizing on top as it bubbled in the tin. The woman took them out with the care one would use when holding a newborn child, delicate and cautious. After placing them on the cooling rack, she resumed her swaying, letting the jazz wash over her.
Five minutes had passed, enough to ensure the muffins had cooled, and were ready to be finished. She sprinkled the lightest douse of powdered sugar on top of the brown molasses clusters, scattering with the finesse and precision of a craftsman. Off went the apron, followed by the oven mitts as the woman grasped the warmed plate within bony fingers, face glazed over with a smile as she held them close. She reveled in the act of generosity, knowing that she had baked these precious cakes for none other than her own child. He loved her cinnamon apple muffins. He ate them everyday after school. And then he thanked his mother for baking such delicious treats. The school bus would be arriving any minute, thought the woman to her utter glee. Soon they would be home, enjoying the sweets prepared by their mother.
The kitchen door swung open and the scent of fresh baked goods drifted through the house. She placed the tray on the dining room table, next to the stacks of stale muffins, all with the same scent of cinnamon and apple. It filled and burned the nostrils, potent and overpowering with age and quantity. She sat down upon the ragged arm chair in the corner and sighed, waiting for her child. The warmth had gone with the swing of the kitchen door, revealing compulsion of years gone by. Jazz could still be heard from that outdated speaker, yet it no longer soothed her. Her eyes only glanced at the pile of “Get Well Soon” cards that sat in the places of what should have been family mementos on the mantel. Once again she sighed. She sat. She waited. The hours passed, the melancholy piano tune droned on and on, a few ants gathered around the rock-like crumbs of apple cake. Finally, the sun had gone, and as her eyes closed she had a final thought. A thought of the muffins that she would surely bake tomorrow.
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