Maggie was already pulling on her grey peacoat and wrapping a long turquoise scarf around her neck. "Of course not. I'll just pop down to the corner market. You can't very well have cinnamon rolls without cinnamon!" She laughed and tugged an old felt hat over her unruly curls and then, tucking the cuffs of her pajama bottoms into her boots, she peered up at her sister and grinned. "Is there anything else we need? You do have coffee, right?"
Elsa nodded and silenced the timer on the stove. Pulling on oven mitts, she reached into the oven to pull out her grandmother's ceramic bowl; the warm yeasty bread rising up above the surface and pressing against the blue-checked tea towel she had draped over the top. "I went to the store after my tiff with Rob and I guess my mind was elsewhere. He just made me so mad..." Her voice trailed off prompting a sympathetic squeeze from her sister. Elsa shrugged and let out a long sigh. "It's really not a big deal. Listen, if you hurry, I'll have the dough rolled out and ready for the good stuff when you get back. I have a couple dollars in my purse, if you need it."
"Don't be silly. I got paid yesterday and after paying the rent, I think I have just enough money leftover for a jar of cinnamon," Maggie teased. "I'll be back in a jiffy!"
As the apartment door slammed shut, Elsa opened the cupboard door and gathered the other ingredients she needed in order to make their mother's famous cinnamon rolls. Lining up the brown sugar, butter and raisins, she flipped on the radio before dipping her hands into the dented canister and sprinkling the countertop with a generous dusting of flour. Singing along with Ella Fitzgerald, she dumped out the warm dough onto the floured surface and kneaded out the air bubbles, the familiar yeasty fragrance filling her nostrils.
For a moment, Elsa was transported back to her childhood kitchen, covered in flour up to her elbows and helping her mother roll out the dough for their Saturday morning breakfast. Cartoons blared from the living room and her mom hummed, "I Can't Stop Lovin' You," while she worked the dough.
"You know, Love," she murmured to her oldest daughter. "Bread is the perfect food to prepare when you're working through a problem. Bread dough loves to be pounded on and pushed around. Work out your frustrations on a lump of dough and you'll feel better."
Elsa smiled at the memory. Knowing her dad, the girls' mother had plenty of frustrations to work out. That's probably why Mom made cinnamon rolls every Saturday. To push around and pound on the dough instead of Dad. In spite of his faults, her mother had stood by him through all those years, even with his conspiracy theories and irrational fears making work hard to find and even harder to keep. Unbidden, her thoughts floated back to her argument with Rob, stirring up a familiar dialogue. So, he forgot our date. He said he was sorry, right? Yes. But this wasn't the first time he'd missed an engagement. Well, last time you gave him the wrong restaurant. But he didn't have to be so rude about it yesterday. Flouring her rolling pin, Elsa pummeled the sweet dough and was surprised to find that with each roll, she felt some of the tension leave her shoulders. He did text this morning with new reservations. Proof, I suppose, that he wanted to make it right. Once the dough was pressed into a thin rectangle, Elsa slathered butter over the smooth surface, turning the spatula back and forth. I guess it was all just a messy misunderstanding. I should let it go, but...
She was shaken from her thoughts by the rattling of Maggie's keys in the door. "I'm back! Did you miss me?" she hollered. Thumping the jar of seasoning on the counter, she unwrapped her warm layers and grinned, her nose and cheeks pink from the frosty morning air. "It smells good," she quipped as she pinched off a piece of dough and popped it in her mouth. Elsa playfully slapped her sister's hand away, scolding her with a look learned from their mother. Maggie laughed and tucked her legs up under herself, perching on the kitchen stool to watch her sister work.
After a generous layer of brown sugar, a sprinkling of raisins and a heavy dusting of the recently fetched seasoning, Elsa rolled up the dough, sliced it into hearty rolls and popped them into the oven. "Do you want a cup of coffee while we wait? It'll be a spell for them to rise and bake." At a nod from her sister, Elsa filled a mug with fresh coffee and slid it across the countertop, picking up the new jar of seasoning to put away. She paused. "Uh, oh. This isn't cinnamon, Maggie." Her younger sister snatched it from her hand and squinted at the label.
"Chicken jerk? Oops. Well, uh, they'll be spicy!"
Elsa clasped her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter. "You really need to wear your glasses when you shop!"
"You could have read the label, too. Where are your glasses?"
"Shush. Can you pass me the phone."
"Who are you calling at this hour?"
"Rob. You just reminded me that it takes two to make an accident."
A flash-fiction piece inspired by The Great Gatsby quote, "It takes two to make an accident." And also inspired my very own kitchen-catastrophe when I really did mistake chicken jerk for cinnamon in a batch of cinnamon rolls. That spicy accident ended up in the trash, but not without teaching me a lesson about reading labels carefully!