Susan Takes a Husband

Posted on: October 27, 2015

A re-telling of "Mo Takes a Wife"

Sticky damn fingers. Honey, powdered sugar, syrups, jams and jellies, marmalade: Susan always had fingers sticky-sweet with one thing or another. At the moment it was marshmallow-flavoured buttercream icing. She dolloped it casually onto the mini chocolate cupcakes and stood back licking the spatula. She had learned in her time owning this bakery that messy baked goods were always picked first. The crumpled pastry tart oozing burnt sugar, the bread loaf that had been slightly too large, bursting over the edge of its pan -- those were always scooped up fast, leaving her shelves lined with the most symmetrically iced cakes, and perfectly pressed pie shells.

Susan pulled two of the cupcakes off the tray and took the rest out front. The day was cold and the frost had covered the windows during the night. As the bakery warmed up with piping hot loaves and croissants filling the shelves, the frost would melt away and turn to steam instead. For now, the view of the street was hidden. She couldn’t make out the dark city that lay sleeping around her.

Susan returned to the kitchen, wiping her glazed fingers on her apron. Genna, the bakery’s one and only employee, had arrived early. She was a pleasant girl who only stopped talking when she shoved her ear buds into place and vanished into music. Her long blond hair, in thick dreads, was usually worn tucked up and wrapped in silk scarves. Today’s scarf was a bright canary yellow. Genna, was always sure to let you know it was Genna-short-for-Genesis and not Jenna-short-for-Jennifer. Susan enjoyed her company. She was teaching her how to bake.

“I brought a smoothie in for you to try today. Watermelon, yoghurt, orange juice.” She poured the pink liquid into two glasses and dropped a straw in each.

Susan brought out the plate with the two mini cupcakes on it. She placed them in front of the smoothies. “Breakfast of champions,” she laughed. “So how was last night?”

“The band was ahMahZing! You should have been there.”

“Meh, not really my thing.”

“My brother was there,” Genna said coyly.

“You have to stop pushing that. It’s never gonna happen.”

“Why not? You are both awesome, and both alone.”

“I’ve seen the girls he dates, all blonde and pale and tall. I’m not his type.”

“Maybe he needs something different.”

“Your brother is not interested in a hot mess like me.”

“Hot and spicy, my brother needs a little Caribbean flare.”

“That’s not the sort of hot I meant. Besides I’m not sure if your brother is my type.”

“What’s wrong with my brother?”

“Nothing. He’s a nice guy, but he’s too cool. He’s like one of those ‘Bro’ guys.”

“Bro guys!” Genna howled with laughter.

“You know what I mean. He’s into sports and beer and he’s cocky and tough. No offense.”

“Nah,” Genna shrugged her shoulders. “That pretty much sounds like my brother.”

“I just want a man who is nice. Someone who wants to be with me because they like me, not someone I have to convince to like me.”

The phone rang and Susan popped the last of her cupcake into her mouth while Genna answered the phone.

“That was Alice; she’s sending some guy here to pick up a cherry pie. She says to watch for the hobo wearing a million and one sweaters. His name is Mo.”

Susan pulled a cherry pie from a rack and tucked it into a white box, tying the flaps tight with string. When the bell tinkled, she called out and left the kitchen for the front of the shop.

Mo was hidden beneath layers of mismatched wool and cotton. He looked out of place standing with his hands resting against the Carrara marble counter. When he smiled at her, the first thing she noticed was his teeth. They were terrible - crooked and chipped and not particularly white, but just after the teeth she noticed the smile. It was warm and kind; it was an invitation.

“Are you Mo?”

“Muhammad. My name is Muhammad.”

“Alice told me you were coming, Muhammad. I have your order all set.”

Susan placed the pie on the counter and started to ring up the order.

“Thank you, Susan.”

He smiled at her again, eager and fully attentive to every movement she made. He watched every bop of her head and curve of her lips, taking in each flick of her round fingers, coated in sugar.

“So is that everything?” Susan asked.

He hesitated gaping around the shop, taking in the shelves of baked goods.

“Actually I need some other things.”

Susan guided the eager Muhammad through the shop, showing him all her favorite things. He nodded and smiled and took one of everything, watching her neatly package up scones, muffins, and loaves of pumpernickle bread. As he turned to leave at last, Susan saw the pie, forgotten on the counter.

“Wait, you forgot your pie.” She leaned in close to tuck the pie safely on top of a bag of dinner rolls. She could smell his skin, like curry and musky soap, and despite her shaky nerves when Muhammad asked her to join him for dinner, she agreed.

“Sure,” she laughed awkwardly. “Meet me back here at six.”


“Anyway,” said Genna as Susan re-entered the kitchen. “You need to find someone. I hate to think of you being alone all the time. You need a man to take you out, to show you a good time. Someone confident and good looking, someone to match you. You need a hot and spicy man.”

“I need a sweet and exotic man,” Susan said, quietly kneading bread dough. “I think I’ll make some coconut-curry buns. I have a craving for something different today.”

Written by: Sarah Scott
Photograph by: Anthony Delanoix

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