A misty haze rose above the wet, damp ground with puddles of grey as the relentless downpour refused to cease its assault upon the sea of hued umbrellas. The tinkling of a little bell was heard as the glass door of Eve’s Bakery was pushed open. Folding her umbrella, a young woman entered, the rich aroma of baked savouries warming her from the chill outside.
“Hello.” A girl called out to her from the counter, her age possibly close to that of her first customer for the day. “I’m Eve. What can I do for you?”
“I’d like three cupcakes, please. One black-currant, one strawberry and a vanilla cream.”
As Eve handed over a box to the woman, she glanced in the direction of the window which was fogged due to the rain. She wiped a patch of the glass with her palm which turned transparent once again.
“You know,” began Eve, “the future is always like this. Foggy. But they can always be wiped clean, dodged. The eyes, windows to life, may deceive. Ah, I’m talking to myself again. Here’s your package. Enjoy.” She smiled at the customer.
The cupcakes were fabulous. Seated beside the fireplace, the gentle heat snugly engulfing her like a blanket, the young lady, Ruth, drifted off to a comfortable sleep.
The meadow was beautiful. On a sloping knoll, shrubbery, hedges and trees glistened under the morning sun like a field of emeralds. Strawberry flowers of pristine white bloomed wherever she looked. Bunches of dark violet berries hung from plants of black currant that swayed ever so slightly, kissed by the soft breeze. Orchids of vanilla grew in clumps in the orchard close by.
Ruth was not one who appreciated the nurturing disposition of nature.
She felt a hand on her shoulder. Turning her neck, she witnessed the stooping, shrivelled figure of her elderly mother. “I don’t recall raising you to be so inconsiderate, cruel. The instant you became successful in life, you bought a fancy apartment, leaving me alone. You don’t even know if I’m alive or dead.”
Ruth slapped the hand away and began to run.
Her thought-scape changed. She was presently standing in the midst of a busy street, umbrella in hand. It was pouring. Someone stood before her, soaked to the bone. A childhood friend who smiled sadly.
“I know you won’t offer your umbrella, you’re just that kind of woman. If you see someone in trouble, you’ll merely pass by without sparing them a second glance. When I lost my job, I desperately needed your help. Remember what you said? ‘It has nothing to do with me’.”
Ruth shoved her friend aside roughly and darted past.
“What on earth is going on? This is a dream, isn’t it?”
“I wonder if the woman from this morning had the cakes. Does she believe she’s inside dreams?” She laughed. “I don’t manipulate dreams. Neither do I generate them. All I do is unlock dormant thoughts and embellish them into something threatening. They don’t call me a Sorceress of Education for nothing.”
She started humming a little tune.
Ruth found herself before a gigantic mirror that was rather misted. Through the blur, she could distinguish the form of a man with his back towards her, facing a woman.
“That woman is… me!”
The man in the mirror was yelling at the version of her in the looking glass, “You are insufferable! The engagement’s off!”
The scenario shifted. Within the mirror, she was much older now. A girl was shrieking at her. “Mum, you are just so annoying! I’m leaving!”
“No! Please, dear!” The older Ruth was begging, “Don’t you care about your own mother?”
“Are these snapshots of the future?” The Ruth from the current time shivered. Recollections flooded into her mind. She, too, had screamed at her old mother while the lady had pleaded pitifully.
“These aren’t futures.” Eve was tired of all the imbeciles she had to tutor on a daily basis. “I’m just making you believe that these are what lie in store. They are threats I’m showing you. The eyes may deceive and futures may be wiped clean. I gave you enough hints, didn’t I? However, if you don’t comprehend or change your ways….” She shrugged. Eve peered out of the window. “Ah, the night is clear. All I want is a palatable world, that’s all. No one seems to realise… There’s no hope left; I suppose.” She exhaled loudly. “Oh well…”
The door to the bakery opened. Eve hurried to the counter.
“What can I get you?”