There they were, sitting on the display counter at Fran’s Bakery. Cupcakes with little Bichon Frise faces—black noses and dark round eyes looking up at me for rescue. How could I say no? Their soft icing with sugar and vanilla curled and twirled, urging my finger to take a swipe. Yes, they were coming with me, instead of the cinnamon rolls, for coffee with my friend later. I bought twelve, disappointed that Fran didn’t give me a baker’s dozen.
Driving home I just couldn’t resist biting into one with the buttery mouthfeel that took me back to store-bought birthday cakes covered in almost half an inch of icing. I usually devoured the icing in spurts and abandoned a bald piece of cake that wound up in the garbage. Cupcakes fared better.
In the house I ate another and arranged the remaining ten on a platter painted with Monarch butterflies. After leaving it on the dining table, I brushed my teeth and put on some lipstick. When I returned, there was a dog, a Bichon Frise to be exact. His dark round eyes gazed at the cupcakes.
“How did you get in here?”
He cocked his head.
I checked the doors and windows. All shut.
I went back to where he was sitting. Now nine cupcakes on the platter.
“Did you eat one of these?”
He started chewing on himself.
I didn’t notice any trace of icing stuck in his curly white hair, thinking it would be matted somewhere around his muzzle. But I wasn’t about to run my hands over him to make sure. Despite his sweet countenance, he might bite.
The doorbell rang, and the Bichon barked.
Before Claudia could say hello, I told her about the doggie cupcakes and the missing one and the Bichon who appeared while I was in the bathroom.
“Are you on a sugar high?” she asked and laughed.
I felt a bit offended.
“You aren’t suggesting…,” she said.
“No. But where did he come from?”
“Someone is messing with you,” Claudia said.
Trying to avoid a kerfuffle, I didn’t respond. We walked into the dining room.
Two Bichons sat at the table, staring at the other eight cupcakes.
“Oh my,” Claudia said. “How many did you eat?”
The puppies looked at me. Their eyes a mixture of innocence, sadness, and, I hoped, forgiveness.
“I’m sorry,” I said, and we waited for the rest to arrive.
Chella Courington’s poetry and fiction appear in anthologies and journals including SmokeLong Quarterly and New World Writing. Her flash novella, Adele and Tom: The Portrait of a Marriage (Breaking Rules Publishing), is featured at Vancouver Flash Fiction. A 2020 Pushcart and Best Small Fictions Nominee, Courington (she/her) lives in California.