Jane was a lonesome, somewhat mousey spinster determined to wed. She was tired of single life and hankered after the sounds of happy children and a husband’s tender voice. Her office job bored her, and the live-in care she provided for her father with Alzheimer’s had exhausted her supply of daughterly compassion. She was done. She booked her hapless parent into an old folk’s home and deposited him and his meagre belongings with those paid to care: she couldn’t, not anymore. Sadly he died not long afterwards.
Jane had her hair darkened and cut into a stylish bob and set about joining groups, took up hobbies and enjoyed her newfound freedom. She made friendships and was invited out: Jane thrived, but her life was not yet as she wanted. She realised a love of baking and became addicted to making cupcakes.
On Thursdays, she perused her recipe books and decided which variety to make –chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, vanilla, or walnut? On Fridays, she shopped for ingredients, and on Saturdays, she baked. She used distinctive frostings to tempt and delight.
On Sundays, Jane wore her most flattering dresses and drove to church, taking with her a package of cupcakes she had decorated with extravagant swirls and packaged with gentle care: she made the delicacies an art form.
Every week the Vicar reluctantly accepted the offering from Jane, the parishioner who just wouldn’t give up. Nic was single and very handsome, a keen golfer, and he enjoyed his solitude and lack of domesticity. Jane didn’t stand a chance. Not for Nic the life of those disappointed by love, the lonely, or the bereft as he ministered to. He sometimes wondered, was this his vocation? He was faddish about his diet, favouring salads and lean meats. He eschewed sweets and had a particular aversion to the excessive embellishment of cupcakes as Jane bestowed upon him.
Nic came to fear Sunday mornings. He dreaded Jane and her unwanted gifts, her coquettish worship, her adoring looks as he stumbled through Holy Communion, the chalice shaky in his trembling hands. Our Father…Who presumably art in a Heaven blessedly free of ridiculous cupcakes, please oh please deliver me from Jane and her home baking, he beseeched. And every Sunday, she sat and watched and prayed: Jane, the remodelled woman with her arsenal of cupcakes and her aching heart and misguided affection.
And verily it came to pass that God had quite a sense of humour, and She looked with compassion upon the besotted Jane and answered her prayers – just not in the way Jane was anticipating. A well-off widower admired Jane from his lonely pew and thought her and her cupcakes absolutely charming. They married, he set Jane up in business, and now Cupcakes by Jane is a flourishing enterprise. They have three attractive, intelligent children. The Parish Vestry decided that Nic the Vic did not have the right qualities for the Lord’s work and moved him on. He plays a lot of golf these days.
Shelley lives in New Zealand. She has a Master of Management degree and writes non-fiction, short stories, and flash fiction. She has been published in Free Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Friday, The Centificionist, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine (forthcoming), MindFood magazine New Zealand, the Atlantis short story award and received an Honourable Mention in the NZ Writers College Short Story Competition, 2020.