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Be the real thing (don‘t be just a ghost)

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The scent of rising dough faded from her clothes and hair and powdered sugar no longer dotted her forearms. Sadie didn’t have to think about waking up in the middle of the night to start baking or how many napkins she had to order this week.

No more 12-hour shifts because Lars had decided to skip.

No more endless mopping the floor and wiping the counter.

No more thumping the coffee machine to make it work.

Because she'd damn well left the Big Donut for good.

Sadie sat at the kitchen table with a steaming mug of tea in front of her and an opened bag of oyster crackers. She’d put a plastic bag over her hair so that the dye would not stain anything if she accidentally bumped into the furniture.

The radio was still playing old pop songs, which her mom had sang along to with gusto as she made them porridge earlier for breakfast. She’d been careful to let Sadie customize hers as she pleased, instead of insisting that she’d liked it a different way when she was young. Then Barb had kissed her goodbye before hurrying off to work in the strange quiet hours before the dawn.

At this time in the morning, Sadie would usually be checking to see if the dumpsters outside the Big Donut had been damaged overnight, opening the door and disabling the alarm system.  Making sure that the fridges that held the juice and ice cream and soda were in fact plugged in. Turning on the radio and the ovens, inspecting the dough in the containers that had arrived just before she did.

Some of it could be baked in doughnut molds, but most of it would be fried with the sort of expertise that comes with time and too many failures to count. Then she’d have to roll them in all kinds of sugar, fill others with jam and jellies and cream.

And then there was the icing and sprinkles to think of.

Sadie had always made the biggest batches in the morning, so not to risk running out of donuts. If it had been a hot day, she’d focus on the colder products being visible and been glad that the rest of the baked goods were just shipped to them.

All that was gone now, no longer her responsibility.

Instead of wandering outside because of some silly urge to check if former Mayor Dewey had managed not to set the alarm system blaring, or somehow lost the keys she’d handed over after she’d emailed her resignation letter to the headquarters, she stood up and headed downstairs into her room.

Her hair dye would take at least fifteen more minutes to turn her hair green. Fifteen minutes was plenty of time to dig out her old band t-shirts and torn jeans. She even had a leather jacket her mom had given her for her birthday but she’d never dared to wear.

Well, it was getting worn now.

Sadie carried a pile of clothes and an unused notebook upstairs, dumping everything on the kitchen table. Then she went to wash her hair with warm water, until the green dye no longer showed and the water turned clear. She scrubbed at her face with cleanser just to get rid of the last dregs in the container and cleaned that off too before drying her hair with a towel that was far older than she was.

The person who looked at her in the mirror didn’t look like the sort of person who had to gulp down her coffee in the break room because of the sudden crowd in her store, who gave into taking endless shifts in the hope of Lars covering for her too at her request. The person who looked back at her didn’t hide her stack of makeup that she’d bought at a sale after watching horror movie makeup tutorials in the staff room. Or who chose muted nail polish colors instead of bright ones, feeling oddly happy about the secret knowledge that she did in fact own a bottle of black polish somewhere in her drawer.

No.

The person looking back at her, disheveled and bright-eyed, looked exactly like the kind of person who screamed song lyrics on stage and wrote her own lyrics.

She looked like the sort of person Sadie had always hoped she’d become.

And now she was.