The Secret Ingredient

“I love these,” Betty said, pointing to the cupcakes in the pastry display. “You make them better than anyone else. What’s your secret?”

“The secret is love,” Ronald said and smiled.

“I never would’ve guessed.”

“I know. It is cliche, but it’s the truth.”

“Love, huh. Well, I’d like six of these,” Betty said, pointing to the cupcakes with pink frosting.

Ronald got her order, packed the cupcakes in a paper bag, and handed it over to her.

“Twelve dollars, mam.”

“Come on, Ron, show me some love.”

Ronald shrugged and raised his hands in surrender, “It is what it is. With love, or without.”

“I’m kidding, Ron,” Betty said and handed the money over.

She smiled, collected her order, and went out of the shop. Ronald returned her smile, for the time she was able to see his face. Then, his face fell into hard lines. With his moustache curved downward, and his brows furrowed, he walked to the door and flipped the open sign to closed.

“The answer is love,” he whispered to himself and started working on a fresh batch of cupcakes.

He broke the eggs carefully, added sugar, oil, and vanilla to the bowl and whisked the contents violently. His face red, the veins on his forehead throbbing, he took another bowl and added flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda to it. Then he took a spoon and mixed them with great force. He was seething now.

He mixed the contents of the two bowls in a third bowl and whisked the contents gently. He was tired and covered in sweat by the time he added buttermilk to the mixture. But he thought about Betty and her smile and her little joke about the money, and he absolutely battered the contents of the bowl.

With pain throbbing in his arms, he took the batter and poured it into the little moulds and put them in the oven.

“Love is the answer,” he whispered to himself and saw his hands, red, and full of violence. What bullshit, he thought. This, this hate and violence is the answer. You won’t bake anything good with your pansy attitude, Betty.

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