Creaming Before Dawn
In the fluorescent light, Heidi squirts cream into rows of sugared doughnuts and buns. Bread bakes and the air is dense with the sweet, cloying smell of icing. The shop is a haven of heat and light. Outside, the main street is dark and car-less, slick with rain.
Hands on my hips, I watch the balletic spin and turn, spin and turn of the industrial beater. Not trusted to wield the piping bag because of my clumsiness, my job is to keep the cream coming, laying the plump bags at Heidi's elbow. At this hour, the only customers are boys buying their pre-rugby feeds or blinking truck drivers. Their mince pie and apple slice neither breakfast nor dinner, just another rest stop on an all-night journey north or south.
I am not good at my job. I drop things. I daydream. I stare too hard at the customers, looking for the stories in their faces.
Holding a thick Hessian sack to protect my hands, I hoist a tray of pies from the oven, carry them through to the warmer. The day is breaking through and a man in a van throws a bundle of newspapers into our doorway. My polyester smock itches. I plot escape. I can do this today, because one day I will leave. Let the man in the country sleep while I stay up late drinking Velutto Rosso, typing poems and trying to re-write my history.
My mother wants me to be a hairdresser. She tells me it's a glamorous job with a good social life. But I'm not convinced. I believe I can write and I know that there is a point, a purpose to writing. I know this because of James K, because of the time Sam Hunt came to the Waitara Tavern and because Ruth Dallas wrote 'Milking Before Dawn.'