Joan came into the bakery. The door closed behind her bumping the bell for the second time. It was a cozy space: small tables with mis-matched chairs stood to both sides of the front door, the counter and shelves with muffins, buns and other such things lined the wall opposite. In the middle of it all, stood a woman, about Joan's age, with beautiful natural hair loosely tied up away from her face. There was one customer in front of Joan, a young man. He was putting money on the counter just as Joan stepped up.
'I beg your pardon,' said the woman behind the counter. 'This isn't enough.'
'It's enough. I'm the one who can see here.'
Joan looked at the woman more closely – her eyes were aimed at the man but not exactly looking at him.
'Yes, but I can count, sir.'
'I think, I can do that better than you. I want to talk to your manager.'
The woman smiled, pleasantly enough, and her eyes betrayed none of the cold, which Joan felt emanating from her anyway.
'Yes, sir, I am the owner. How may I help you?'
The man said nothing.
'For the capitalist system to work, it is crucial that people are compensated accordingly for the goods and services they provide. As such we have two options here, option one is for me to keep those two muffins, option two is for you to add four more dollars.'
She held up the bulging paper bag.
'Fine!' the man slammed a bill on the counter, grabbed the bag from the woman's grip. 'Keep the change!'
Joan watched as he stomped out. She turned back and stepped up to the counter.
'Hello.' the woman behind the counter smiled, quite warmly. 'My apologies that you had to witness that.'
'I'm sorry this happened to you.' replied Joan, studying the other woman's face up close. She was very pretty, her face illuminated by spring sun coming through the windows, her hair tumbling gracefully.
Joan realized that the woman did not reply right away.
'So, how may I help you with your pastry needs this morning?' she said finally.
Joan glanced at the selection.
'I'll … take two blueberry muffins.'
'Are you sure?'
'Uh, I beg your pardon?'
'Are you sure you want the blueberry muffins? It is a pretty boring choice.'
'And what makes you think that isn't exactly what I want?' But Joan did not sound irritated, she did not feel angry or annoyed, she felt... intrigued. It was all very strange.
'Just a hunch.'
'Do you normally suggest that people reconsider their muffin choices?'
The woman considered.
'No, not as a rule, but sometimes. When I get a hunch.' She smiled again and Joan found her eyes. She smiled too, even though the woman could not see. Realizing it, Joan felt a pang of guilt.
'So...', she began, 'what do you recommend?'
Joan left the bakery a while later carrying two beetroot chocolate muffins and a donut which she did not particularly want, but Lena – how did she sneak her name in there Joan had no idea, she also got Joan's name out as well somehow – was very insistent. Joan walked home deep in thought about the strange encounter with the beautiful baker. She took out the donut and bit into it.