Raisa Stebbins
The Twilight Bakery

    It was one of those horribly cold, drizzling Tuesday mornings, when the sun just isn't ready to come bubbling up over the horizon. At six AM, as his alarm jangled, Jack Albricht merely turned over and curled up, hoping that it might be a warmer, happier Wednesday on the other side of the room. Unfortunately it wasn't. There would be no going back to sleep, Tuesday or no. It was six AM, and that meant cinnamon-rolls-the-size-of-your-head at Roddy's. Jack could see it in his mind's eye. Vetch Heulwen would have already driven down from her old farmhouse in her rattletrap car to arrive at the bakery. Right now she would be playing music, because Vetch liked to sing. Lit by the harsh luminescence of the kitchen lights, Vetch—the bakery angel of Roddy's café—would spread her cinnamon and nutmeg wings and prepare to create miracles as big as your head.

    Everyone knew about Roddy's. It was famous for its bizarrely named and delicious delicacies: the Exploding Cherry Bombs, Apple Armageddons, Electric Lemon Sunbursts, and Black Chocolate Moose. Everything and anything that Roddy's served was bound to be delectable, but the cinnamon rolls were the crowning glory of the café. There was no menu at Roddy's. People came to eat what Vetch made because it was all simply fantastic. A Welsh immigrant with a need to feed, Vetch was the queen of the bakery. Although there was no menu, everyone knew that Tuesdays and Thursdays were Cinnamon Roll Days, and that was exactly why Jack Albricht was stumbling out of bed.

    Still somewhat bleary, Jack stumbled through his morning routine, gagging on a cup of the dregs of last night's coffee in a desperate attempt to wake up, and swilling it down with toothpaste. Donning his tie and snatching his umbrella, Jack galoshed his way through the early spring mud and rain across Kilbright Street, down two blocks and through a side street. He had a pastry to snag before work.

    Even at six AM, Roddy's was brightly lit and humming with business. The booths were already filling with Jack's co-workers, neighbors, and friends, all guzzling steaming hot coffee and tea. Stepping into Roddy's was a new experience every time. Jack always paused just inside the door to savor the scents of cinnamon, sugar, and spices, and the hum and murmur of people whose day had just begun. Already, Roddy's was a cacophony of color, mismatching chairs and cutlery, bright splashes across the walls from when the café had been repainted a few years back in fresh, lively reds, greens, blues, and purples, articles and artwork from various patrons cluttering the back wall. The patrons themselves were a sensory explosion in their own right: businessmen like Jack, shop owners, teachers, the local hooligans, Mary the waitress, whose smile was ready and coffee was hot, Lucien the busboy, who was really 32, Roddy, the man who ran the café and kept accounts, but who was most often found chatting with anyone who would listen, and finally Vetch herself. The kitchen door was always open, so that Vetch could carry on a conversation while punching dough into divinity.

    On this particular grey Tuesday, Vetch, who was all over flour, was carrying on a loud debate about the latest town gossip, surrounded by a group of admirers. She looked up when she heard the bell hung above the door jingle. Jack! She greeted him with a vibrant smile before turning back to her followers. Jack elbowed his way through the throng, careful not to bump Mary. He had no sooner found a seat, than Mary slid him a hot mug that smelled of wakefulness and Vetch sauntered her way over, a cloud of bakery warmth in her wake. You look like a cinnamon roll t'day, I think. She flashed him a cheerful wink. Piping hot. He smiled and thanked her. She whisked back to the kitchen and in seconds a sunny yellow plate covered in a mass of sticky cinnamon-filled heaven was placed in front of him. Roddy said something to make Mary laugh and Vetch started singing from the kitchen. Inhaling the scent of his coffee and savoring the first taste of Vetch's masterpiece, Jack knew it was going to be a good day.

    As he was searching for his umbrella, Vetch came out of the kitchen again, the room brightening with her. She waved joyfully. Come back ‘round dinnertime! I'll ‘ave a Lemon Sunburst for you, luv! Jack closed his umbrella; he'd be soaked through when he got to work, but somewhere around dinnertime, the sun was already shining.