Sandy was up very early the next day to dress in her new uniform and walk to Kemono Café. It dawned upon Sandy just how different her new life was when she realized how quickly she got to work. With her commute being only a few buildings over, she didn’t have to waste a part of her day shuffling between trains and fighting through crowds. She didn’t have to worry if there would be someone on her commute arguing loudly about the shape of the planet or if someone was eying her belongings a little too hard. Instead, all of her energy could be spent on her needs. She looked over a brand new building with bright-eyed enthusiasm. It was the closest thing to a clean slate Sandy had ever known in her life.
Maxine gave her one training day to make sure she could do the little things, like count Fable money, and almost no one came to the cafe because they didn’t really put it out there that it was open. Just a few casual explorers ordered treats and were on their way. It was so much easier than any job Sandy ever had. Maxine and Sandy spent most of the day just talking about Maxine’s earlier challenges with her shop. It felt so strange to have someone on her side.
Just for their first day, Maxine ordered a small stock from the baker so Sandy could practice at the register. But she didn’t really need it. Maxine was very happy to see that Sandy wasn’t lying about her previous experience. She was polite, careful, and could handle two things at once. Today, Maxine wouldn’t be here until closing time. But if Sandy really needed it, her boss would be right down the street.
The first thing Sandy decided to do on her own was to clean up the kitchen and unpack all of the dishes they’d missed the first day. Miko delivered large boxes of dishes, pans, and everything Sandy needed the last time she was there. But they were still dusty and covered in packing straw. Sandy looked up nervously to the faucet.
Sandy was becoming more accepting of the fact that one person could build an entire café in three days with just one tool. She stopped questioning Fable because she was beginning to love it. She’d never have a chance like this elsewhere. Excitement bubbled within her as she looked for a place to put the dishes and realized nothing was labeled. She could choose where each stack went. It felt incredibly liberating. Her first day of work was like moving into a new apartment… Only better! Sandy grinned ear to ear as she imagined the new apartment paying her for once. This must be the feeling Maxine had every morning waking up. Sandy customized the kitchen to her liking and quickly ran out front to tidy the tables and chairs. Once 7AM chimed on the antique clock, she turned the little sign around and was open for business.
Oh it did. The second day was nothing like the first at all. People were already there, waiting for the cafe to open. It was three groups of two, workers that were ready for the day well before everyone else. Sandy giggled at their jokes about her being the only one here and brought them coffee and donuts when ordered. This was going to be easy.
Sandy bowed in thanks to their business and then ran in back. She couldn’t believe she had the energy to run. She lit the stove with a match and was off to the races. Her first order wasn’t hard at all. Her mind was racing with ways she could make this faster next time. She could prep onions for some of the popular dishes like the big restaurants did. She had to dance back to the fryer and turn the donuts that were cooking once a little egg timer went off. With her first orders in her arms, she served the table and took in their delighted faces… And the waiting customers at the register waiting for her to come back from the kitchen.
Nevermind that a dozen donuts was half of what Sandy had prepared. She’d have to make a second batch right away after icing the warm ones. Sandy began to feel the pressure before 8AM. The morning was filled with customers thanks to rumors about the cafe being open spreading like wildfire all over town. It apparently was a favorite before, and not just that, but a town icon.
Sandy was running back and forth between cooking meals and the front register as quick as she could. She couldn’t panic. She just couldn’t. Most of the people ordered simple things that were already prepared. If she stopped moving even once, it would be over. The first change Sandy thought of was that she was going to make three times the amount of donuts she normally would before they opened. She quickly changed out coffee carafes, turned sizzling donuts in the fryer with chopsticks and barely saved people’s breakfasts from burning to a crisp on the stove. She ran out of vegetable prep and attacked the next set of onions so fast her kitchen looked like the set of a slasher film.
It was a hurricane of customers. And she was learning quickly to hate anyone who didn’t order a coffee and a donut. Most of the boxes around her remained unpacked as she ran back and forth between the kitchen and the front. She had to unpack a kettle for hot water amid all of the madness and then completely forgot about it once the customer changed their order. The whistling of boiling water had her run back and accidentally spilled it mid tackle. She had to leave it on the floor so she could run back to icing donuts. If she fell behind with those she might as well rob the Escapade and ride it right back to Low Point.
And then… they were gone.
Sandy looked over the counter nervously as if she was checking the aftermath of a battle from cover. 9AM. A bit of donut slid down the wall on her side of the counter, thrown by a child having a tantrum. Sandy was able to shake herself free of her stupor once it landed on the floor with a splat.