“There are moments that you’ll remember for the rest of your life and there are moments that you think you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and it’s not often they turn out to be the same moment.”··
“There are moments that you’ll remember for the rest of your life and there are moments that you think you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and it’s not often they turn out to be the same moment.”
“It’s the surf in your face, the deadly magic of November on your skin, the Scorpio drums in the place of your heartbeat. It’s speed, if you’re lucky. It’s life and it’s death or it’s both and there’s nothing like it.”
“I think every now and then about Sean’s thumb pressed against my wrist and daydream about him touching me again. But mostly I think about the way he looks at me – with respect – and I think that’s probably worth more than anything.”
The rich smell of Palsson’s reminds me that everyone on this island is like a pastry.
I was thinking about this earlier when Puck came home with Sean’s jacket and scent covering her body like powdered sugar. It makes sense that they’re together; she’s savory nutty bread and savory nutty bread pairs well with tradition. They’re complimentary.
Puck shows me the simple ring as she leans over the counter and her every gesture is alight with a happiness I’ve rarely seen. Even when she won the races, all I saw was disbelief and frantic concern for Sean. Now, with contentment radiating off her, she looks younger. Like the stress has evaporated, like the flaky pastry that dissolves in your mouth.
Her ring is silver and light and delicate without being fragile and breakable. It strikes me then how well Sean knows her, to know how much she would like the straightforward manner of this ring. She’s nutty bread; Puck’s like the comfort of coming home and coming home doesn’t like fanfare or change. This ring doesn’t herald fanfare or change; it heralds them, and they were as inevitable as the races even without the ring.
I smile as she tells me how Sean almost dropped the ring, how the honey from his November cake caught in her hair when she kissed him. She paints the scene as lovingly as I frost the cakes in the window.
Puck is nutty bread. There’s nothing else she could possibly be.
Palsson comes over to show me how to properly roll out the dough for the cookies and I ask her, “When are you going to tell Gabe?”
I don’t need to look at her to know that she’s wearing her thinking face, complete with fierce brow furrowing and mouth puckering. I take over from Palsson and wait patiently for her to speak. Palsson goes out from behind the counter to talk to a woman I vaguely recognize as the wife of one of our father’s friends.
I glance at Puck and she’s looking vaguely out the window toward the mainland as if she can see Gabe and is trying to bring him home with the force of her gaze.
The bell jingles merrily over the door as George Holly strolls in, bringing with him the aura of mainland sophistication and grace as well as an overcast cloud calling for rain. He’s wearing one of his questionable hats again today. He casts a critical eye over the cakes in the display—I’m dying to know what he thinks—and approaches us. He leans on counter and mirrors Puck’s pose, though I can’t tell if he does this on purpose.
George Holly. George Holly is apple pie, but apple pie that’s been made here on Thisby. The island has sunk its claws into him and isn’t letting go.
“Hello there, Finn, Puck,” he says. Puck and I share an amused glance over his accent. “I see you’re keeping busy,” he continues, with a nod at my dough.
I nod. “I’m learning loads,” I say, and it’s difficult to keep from breaking into a huge smile. I quickly turn my attention back to the cookie dough and try to remember where the cookie cutters are.
When I come back Puck and Holly are talking about the proposal again. I keep a sliver of my mind focused on their conversation and focus the rest on maximizing the number of car cookies I can create from this batch of dough.
George Holly is apple pie and apple pie to me necessarily means America. It means big cars and square jaws and the pictures we see in the mainland magazines. Apple pie means familiarity, the way Holly has started to look at Skarmouth like he misses it already and only wants to leave so he can return again. If he asked, I’d tell him to keep a house year round, but for some reason people rarely ask my opinions.
Apple pie means America but it’s something that our mother made when she was in a baking mood, so it means Thisby too. Just like George Holly necessarily means America but has come to mean Thisby too. It’d be strange for October to come without seeing him.
I carefully gather the tray of cars into my arms and take it to the ovens. I can’t help bouncing slightly on my toes as I return to the counter. These are my first batch of cookies, the first thing I’ve baked nearly on my own, and I want so desperately to be proud of them.
Holly’s saying something like “it was only a matter of time” and Puck beams wider than I’ve ever seen her smile. And then I think about how much less I’ve seen her the past few years, what with her job at Malvern’s, and then I think about how much less I’ll see her once they marry.
I think I’m finally becoming an orphan.
I frown at my hands.
“Sean!” Holly says with great enthusiasm. Sean has just come in the door, a great mess of sharp edges and angles that for a moment I don’t understand how Puck can hold him. But then he softens and comes to life and he smiles at her, a shy little thing, and I get it. I pretend to be busy counting the bags of flour that sit just behind the counter while I think on it to make sure, and then I know.
Sean Kendrick is November cakes. I look at him with his fingers lightly touching my sister’s. He’s November cakes. Sean Kendrick is the foundation this island is built on; he’s the sky and the sea and the sand and the capaill uisce and there’s nothing more fundamental than he to the Scorpio Races. And there’s no other pastry that fits Thisby quite like November cakes.
“What do you think, Finn?” Sean asks quietly. His voice is soft but it’s like the ornamental frosting on Palsson’s wedding cakes and it’s impossible to ignore.
“About what?” I ask, slightly stunned. Sean Kendrick asking for my opinion is about as rare as Thomas Gratton dancing, though the latter has actually happened before.
“About which kind of pastry to serve at our wedding,” Puck says. She leans against him like he was Dove and he puts his arm around her shoulder.
I consider the two of them, and then I say, “Savory nutty bread and November cakes.”
George Holly tilts his head to the side in the picture of sophisticated confusion. “Is this another Thisby tradition? Savory nutty bread and November cakes?”
“No,” I say, and I explain my logic.
Sean holds Puck a little closer when I’m done and there’s something suspicious about the brightness of his eyes. I fidget uncomfortably under the weight of their gazes. Suddenly I wish I was working on the old car engine, or fiddling with the fence by Dove’s stable. Anywhere but here, with this ocean’s weight of attention.
Puck’s the one who finally speaks. “How long have you been thinking about this?” she asks, and I know her well enough to know how her voice sounds when she’s swallowing tears. What a strange thing, that tears and happiness should follow so close behind each other.
I shrug. “Since this morning,” I say offhandedly. Holly opens his mouth but I interrupt him with, “You’re apple pie.”
He laughs delightedly and takes off his hat. “That’s appropriate.”
Puck looks up at Sean with her hair falling in her face and says, “I think it’s brilliant.” He nods silently in agreement and now she looks at me and takes my hand. She’s getting flour all over herself, but Puck’s never cared about getting dirty. “Thank you, Finn.”
We exchange a few more comments about pastries and burnt dough and the possibility of a storm later before Holly checks his large watch and waves farewell. Puck, Sean, and I watch him saunter out of sight down the street.
Sean sighs and rubs his eyes with the heel of his palm. He looks like the sea has used him to sharpen its waves. I work on another batch of dough while Puck plays with Sean’s free hand, her ring glinting like a capall uisce far out in the darkest part of the sea.
“What are you?” Puck asks abruptly. I furrow my brow at her. “Which type of pastry?” she clarifies, and waits expectantly. Sean looks at me as well, a measured expression on his face.
“I don’t know,” I reply. I thought about myself as well, but there isn’t a type of pastry that seems lost and uncertain. Not even the breads. “What do you think I am?”
Puck considers me and as soon as she does I feel the seeds of panic start to sprout up from my abdomin. I both dread and hunger to hear what she’s thinking. Sean’s hand twitches in hers. Her eyes catch on my hands with the dough.
“I think you might be the dough,” she says slowly. “You have so much potential in front of you, Finn, so much promise. You don’t have to know what type of pastry, or what type of person, you are yet.” She laughs here, a strangely heavy thing that wouldn’t be airborne were it a bird. “How can we? Gabe’s the one who knew our parents best, and he—” She swallows hard. “And I could’ve—and left you all alone—”
And all of a sudden Puck, my sister born of vinegar, is sitting in the pastry shop crying thick and fast tears. She cries and hiccups at the same time and she sounds like she can’t get air and I set about making her hot chocolate with salt.
“Thanks,” she whispers hoarsely as Sean rubs her back in a strong, soothing motion. She fixes me with a watery stare. “You’re undetermined. You might not know who you are, but you’ll find out. And you won’t be alone, Finn. You may be the dough, but you won’t rise on your own.”
I touch the tips of my fingers to the corners of my eyes briefly to keep from crying myself before I realize Puck made a baking joke. I shoot a questioning stare at her and she’s grinning tearfully, amused by herself.
“That was a terrible pun,” I say, and flick my fingers so the flour cascades over her head.
“You have dough on your chin,” Puck replies. She takes my hand and squeezes it lightly. I give her an awkward hug over the counter. “I’ll always be here, if you need me,” she murmurs into my shoulder. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Not like Gabe is what she doesn’t say but we both hear it as if she had screamed it.
“I’ll send him a letter,” she adds. “He left his address the last time he visited. I’ll write and tell him and threaten him until he promises to at least visit.”
“Okay,” I say. My voice catches in my throat and comes out squeaky. I cough into my elbow and repeat “Okay” and this time it’s nice and deep. I smile. Puck rolls her eyes.
Sean intertwines his fingers with Puck’s with a wonderstruck expression on his face, as if he can’t believe he can actually touch her like that. “We’d better get back to the stables,” he says, mostly to Puck but partly to me as well. “I need to check on Corr.”
She nods. “I’ll be home before dark,” she promises me, and I watch them set off toward Sean’s house. The sun illuminates Puck’s hair and glimmers on her ring and I can almost see the shape of her laugh as Sean whispers in her ear.
They leave. I pull my cookies from the oven and frost them while the dough rises, the smell of freshly baked bread circling my head. I frost little headlights and door handles and on one of them I frost their initials, and I smile.
Then I hide little memories on the others. Like the sun at Tommy Falk’s funeral, and Corr standing over Sean, and the time Puck asked me about the weather. I frost a tiny boat in memory of our parents on a tiny tire.
This is right. I smile wider. I’ll remember, and grow, and we’ll be safe here, on this island of giants.
”Tell me what to wish for.” Tell me what to ask the sea for.” “To be happy. Happiness.” “I don’t think such a thing is had on Thisby. And if it is, I don’t know how you would keep it.” “You whisper to it. What it needs to hear. Isn’t that what you said?” “That’s what I said. What do I need to hear?” “That tomorrow we’ll rule the Scorpio Races as king and queen of Skarmouth and I’ll save the house and you’ll have your stallion. Dove will eat golden oats for the rest of her days and you will terrorize the races each year and people will come from every island in the world to find out how it is you get horses to listen to you. The piebald will carry Mutt Malvern into the sea and Gabriel will decide to stay on the island. I will have a farm and you will bring me bread for dinner.” “That’s what I needed to hear.”
WIP of my current house, it’s the murray hill lot by Peskimus at TSR I just edited the trees because the original ones don’t really fit Isla Paradiso. These are unedited screenshots because I am too lazy to edit and open photoshop, plus I think they already look fine. I have the last part of my 3k follower’s gift coming up after this post, I am just waiting for the files to finish uploading at SFS :)