The Christmas carols playing on the bus helped bring back memories: her happy childhood, friends, and dreaming about becoming a professional pastry chef one day. This wasn't the first time Marcia came home to her parent's house, but this was the first time she will be staying over for the weekend.
Marcia loved sweets when she was a small girl. She still does. Her mother had to buy a refrigerator, with lock and key, to help prevent obesity, which did not stop Marcia from getting to her beloved sweets, but it somehow pointed out how much her mother loved her.
San Sebastian was a small, quaint community. Her best friend and classmate, Roy, lived just a few blocks away from Marcia's house so they would often walk home together from school. Back then, it was safe to walk the streets as people knew each other by name and the adults looked out for the children. Roy and Marcia were inseparable. They were especially fond of Mr. Garcia's bakeshop and the feeling was mutual. Mr. Garcia loved seeing these two chubby friends walk home together from school as they reminded him of his children when they were young.
"I already knew that I will be a pastry chef back then. There were bullies at my school but I had a friend who always had my back when the bullies at school teased me. And, we would eat sweets from our favorite pastry shop while walking home from school. And that is my entire childhood." Marcia recounted her childhood memories.
"How come I've never heard of this friend of yours before?" Stacey asked in feigned surprise.
"Roy migrated to the states with his family after we graduated from elementary school. We didn't really keep in touch after that. I wonder what happened to him?" Marcia's perplexed expression turned into a sly smile.
Stacey mirrored the good vibes her friend was radiating. "The trip is starting to work already and we have yet to get down from the bus." Stacey thought to herself. Seeing the light turn up in her friend's eyes made Stacey happy. She came along for the trip to cheer up her friend who just went through a breakup a few weeks ago.
Image from Juli-s at Pixabay.
"We're here! Get your bags." Marcia said excitedly.
"Wait for me, Marcia." Stacey followed.
"No taxicab in sight. I guess we'll have to ride the shuttle service. Let's go." Marcia was a bit disappointed. She was looking forward to seeing her relatives but the extra ride will bring them to Mr. Garcia's bakeshop where the shuttle service stops.
"The hot-looking driver needs someone to ride shotgun. Can I, please..." Stacey begged her friend.
Marcia nodded her head and pointed her lips towards the front of the van. Stacey jumped in and began chatting with the handsome looking dude immediately while Marcia sat at the back of the shuttle, lost in her thoughts.
Arriving at their destination.
"It's still here. Thank God. It looks different but I'm happy to see it. I hope Mr. Garcia is around. Oh, is he still the owner? Hmmm... Did he sell the place and the new owner renovated it?" So many questions whirled around in Marcia's mind. Her family can wait a few more minutes while they grabbed coffee.
As they entered the bakeshop, the smell of freshly baked bread permeated the place. There was also #coffee, but it was the sweets that brought back sweet memories.
"Let's have our coffee here, Stacey. I'm a little hungry now and I want you to taste their special Malunggay Pandesal."
"Okay, boss. Whatever you want." Stacey needed something to perk up her day aside from the good looking young man who drove the shuttle.
"Did he get your number? I fell asleep and didn't hear what you were talking about."
"Yes. He did but only because he wanted to show us around town."
"Hmmm... Looks like he's a hard one to read. Shall we investigate further."
"Not to worry about it my friend. This is not why we came here. It's all about you this weekend. How are you holding up by the way?" Stacey couldn't help but ask.
"I guess it's not too bad. I'm alive, aren't I?" was the sarcastic reply.
"C'mon, Marcia. It'll be fun to visit your family and you have me for the rest of the weekend." Stacey was trying hard to cheer up her friend.
"Let's order some coffee."
The crew got their order and was preparing their coffee when an older gentleman came out of the kitchen door. Marcia recognized her old friend, Mr. Garcia, but will he recognize her?
"Mr. Garcia?" Marcia asked to get his attention.
"Don't tell me your name. I recognize those cute dimples. Marcia?" Mr. Garcia was ecstatic to see Marcia. "You've grown up into a beautiful young lady." He added.
Marcia blushed. She was happy to see her old friend. "How are you doing? I haven't been here in a long time. I see that you already have more people working for you. Business must be good."
"This is my nephew, Gerald. He's been helping me out since I had my heart operation a few weeks ago. The doctor said I still can't work but I come here just to talk to customers and walk around." Mr. Garcia said with a tinge of sadness in his voice.
"Oh, I'm so glad to see you and that you're now okay. I miss the good old days when you used to give us velvet cupcakes and we would eat it on the way home." Marcia continued to talk excitedly.
"Ahem." Stacey cleared her throat.
"Oh! Mr. Garcia, this is my friend and business partner, Stacey."
"Hello, Stacey. Nice to meet you. You know your friend used to be a chubby little girl. I almost did not recognize her."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Garcia. Now I know why Marcia became a pastry chef. She loved those cupcakes that you baked for her." Stacey answered without hesitation.
They talked a little more, but Mr. Garcia had to rest so he bade them goodbye. Marcia thought about how this man inspired her and was already thinking of something to give him before they went back to the big city.
"I will just be a minute." Marcia went to the restroom while Stacey finished her coffee. She noticed that the shuttle service van was still parked outside when the driver went out and began walking towards their table.
Stacey waved at the driver, but he didn't see her. At the same time, Marcia came out from the restroom and was busy checking her phone. She looked up and saw the handsome face in front of her. Her mind seemed like it had short-circuited.
"Roy? Is it you?" Marcia seemed fazed by the sudden turn of events.
"I'm really surprised to see you here. I thought you had migrated to the states?" Marcia asked.
"I'm here on vacation. I heard about what happened to Mr. Garcia and decided to go and visit him. I was driving the shuttle service van and saw you already, but I couldn't believe my eyes so I stayed in the van and watched you from the outside until I was sure that it was really you." Roy answered as straightforward as he could.
"I'm speechless. I don't know what to say." Marcia was at a loss for words. She was so happy that she wanted to shout for joy, but also sad that Roy is going back to the states. Tears began rolling down her face.
"Stop that, Marcia. You're making me cry." The childhood friends gave each other a long, tight hug.
"Ahem!" Stacey cleared her throat once again.
"Roy, this is my friend, Stacey. You've already met each other."
"Nice to finally meet you, Roy. I've heard so many good things about this chubby little boy. What happened to you?" Stacey was her usual self.
"We should pass by the convenience store to get you some of those throat lozenges, Stacey. You might be catching something. I've heard that they are really effective." The friends laughed and they all sat at the table. Meanwhile, Mr. Garcia returned from his mid-morning nap and shared more stories with his old friends. They had a wonderful time together.
It was a long day for Marcia and Stacey. They had a blast meeting up with friends and family, but they were done for the day.
"Thanks for everything, Stacey. This was the best Christmas gift ever. I think I'm already over with that guy, whom we shall never speak of again." Marcia was genuinely grateful for the early Christmas gift. She was able to visit her family, reconnect with a long lost friend, and visit her baking inspiration.
"I think I will stay here for a while. Can you handle things at the store by yourself? I might want to spend some time with Roy before he leaves." Marcia capitulated to her feelings.
"Are you kidding? This is Stacey. I can handle anything!" The friends laughed together and went to sleep with a happy heart.