Welcome back to a new chapter of All that I Can Be! I hope you’ve enjoyed the start last week <3 In case you’d like to catch up, here is Chapter 1 again as well as the explanation of what All that I Can Be is 🙂
Now, let’s begin Chaper 2!
“Buy your bread here, freshly baked this morning! Only two coins a loaf!”
Elena’s sales pitch barely made it over the noise of the early morning shoppers, but a few people—mostly regulars—looked up and gave her a nod.
The first time Elena had sold her mother’s breads, she’d been hoarse the day after. By now—three years later—her voice was used to it.
She loved the market, but never as much when she had to work. The different stalls sold everything from colourful sweet-smelling bouquets to drawings created in front of the customer, all the way to Elena’s family’s stall. And everything was created by the people who lived in her little village. Her customers were her neighbours.
It was rare that visitors passed through. Her village wasn’t anywhere near the capital, and there were no interesting tourist sights. It was quiet, the only sounds coming from her neighbours’ laughter, kids chasing each other, and birds singing.
Unless it was market day.
Their market was a celebration of local talents. Her own stall had one competitor, but their baked goods were so different Elena didn’t see why her mother worried. She sold breads and rolls. Her ‘competitor’ sold cakes and sweet things.
“Get your rolls, still warm from the oven!” She glanced at her paintings sitting unloved on the side. “Or perhaps a painting to adorn your fireplace?”
An elderly lady Elena only knew in passing stepped up. “I’ll take two loafs.”
Elena counted the change and handed it back with the bread. “Can I interest you in a paint—”
The lady was already gone.
She sighed, and sat on the stool behind her stall. Only three loafs and two rolls were left, and she’d only been here for two hours; the basket had been full when she’d arrived.
She glanced over her art. Small canvases with beautiful lavender fields and bouquets. Not the most exciting scene, perhaps, but her oils were old. She didn’t dare paint the unknown in case she wasted them.
Then again, no one wanted her paintings either way. She doubted a bustling scene like the one before her would have sold any better. Her parents allowed her to display them because they felt bad for her and she was their only daughter. Elena had overheard them talk about it. Her parents pitied her, they didn’t believe in her.
Her mother wanted her to inherit the business, but Elena had no love for baking. She loved—
Elena’s heart skipped when she spotted Ralu in the crowd. A thin pale veil around her dark hair accentuated her unusual pale eyes, like grey clouds compared to Elena’s chocolate ones.
They were the most beautiful eyes Elena had ever seen.
The most stunning smile.
Ralu caught her looking, and Elena busied herself with the remaining bread. Her cheeks flushed.
Her parents would go mad if they knew.
Mrs. Balan, their next-door neighbour, stepped into Elena’s view and hid Ralu from her.
“The last two rolls, please, my dear. Give your mother my best, won’t you? And make sure you drink enough. You look too warm.”
Elena blushed harder at having been caught twice. She turned her back on the crowd, pretending to count the change she owed Mrs. Balan. This was stupid; if Ralu saw her, all flushed and emberrassed…
Not that it was worth the worry. A girl like Ralu didn’t know a girl like Elena existed.
“Here’s your change.”
Mrs. Balan nodded and walked away, just in time to reveal Ralu greeting her boyfriend with a hug and a kiss.
She grit her teeth. Ralu definitely didn’t know or care Elena existed.
“Do you have any left?” her mother asked the moment Elena got home.
She shrugged. “No. I sold it all.”
“How much money? Did you charge what I told you?”
Elena frowned. “Of course I did. I haven’t added it up, I don’t know how much.”
Her mother tutted. “You need to take more responsibility, Lena. You won’t run a successful business if you don’t care about your figures.”
She leaned against the kitchen wall and sighed. They were her mother’s figures, not hers. But how could she explain it without disappointing her mother?
“I told you, I don’t want the business. Let Vasile have it.”
Vasile was six years younger, but already had more business sense. In the summer, he sold his old toys and little pictures he’d drawn from their garden. People bought them because they thought he was cute, but he’d still made more money than her. She was too old to be cute.
Elena didn’t understand why her mother wasn’t training him instead.
“Well, you’ll have to get better at painting before you can make a living.”
Ouch. And didn’t she know it.
“Go wash. Lunch will be ready soon.”
Elena locked the bathroom door behind her. She’d bathe—because the market always kicked up a lot of dust, not because her mother told her to—and she’d feel better. Her lavender soaks never failed to calm her.
The hot water was bliss on her dust-kissed skin. Bliss like the stories her grandmama had told her.
Elena sank deeper into the water, welcoming its soothing warmth. She missed her grandmama’s crazy stories. She missed her grandmama. Do not speak badly of the devil because you cannot know to whom you will belong. A chill ran over her skin even in the hot water. She smiled. All her grandmama’s best stories had been about the devil.
Elena remembered the one about the woman who wanted to be a witch best. The woman would dance with the devil under the moon, and he’d fulfill all her wishes.
Such silly children’s tales.
She sighed, deep and slow, inhaling the soothing aroma of lavendar, before draining the water from the tub.
The devil didn’t help people. How easy would life be? There was no force that would help her. Not with her parents, not with her paintings, and not with Ralu.
She was on her own.
End of Chapter 2
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All writing belongs to the author, Sarina Langer
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