This bear story comes from a writing exercise done with my writers club… see note after the story for more information.
This isn’t the story. This is the pre-story. The story starts right underneath the bear photo. First I thought I’d tell you something about my writing habits.
I’ve written a lot during the last twenty years (and before too, but that was different.) I write for the love of it, not the money of it, except for my online blogging, some of which is done with dollar signs in my eyes. After all, I must work, pay bills, and eat.
This blog is one of my favorites to write on because it is the one that bears my name, and it is mainly about fiction writing, which is where my heart is at. I like writing fiction because it allows for wild fights of fancy. When I write fiction, I usually don’t know where I’ll end up, and even when I have an ending planned, sometimes I’m led in other better directions.
That happened with my River Girl book, and it also happened with this short flash fiction story about a cake delivery girl and a bear.
I started writing the story in a tiny room filled with a group of writer-friends in Happy Camp, California. We wrote to a prompt taken from Take Ten For Writers. I didn’t have time to plan the story. I could only start with the prescribed sentence, and write it, on the fly, letting the story itself lead me to the perfect ending.
This is the mystery and the magic of writing fiction.
A Cake Delivery Girl’s Bear Story
By Linda Jo Martin
Before Louis XVI was King of France and no one made jokes about letting everyone eat cake, I worked as a cake delivery girl in Germany. All the cakes went to the wealthiest people of our city.
Those of us in the working class could never afford cake. I thought I was lucky to work for the bakery where often I was given cake scraps. I’d carry them home in my pocket to my brothers and sisters.
One day I had to make a delivery to a huge estate just outside town. The cake I carried was on a sliver platter covered with a beautiful crystal lid. I was dressed as a young courtier in green velvet and golden brocade finery to take the cake to a young rich man who was having his twenty-fifth birthday.
When I left the carriage I passed through the portal of the estate, and closed the heavy iron gate behind me, when a huge bear came charging toward me. I was terrified and tried to run back out the gate but it had fastened tight. Being as frightened as I was I could not figure out how to open it.
I knew the bear could smell that cake but also knew that if I didn’t deliver it intact to the young man I’d be in terrible trouble and might even lose my job. I set the cake on the ground, on its silver tray, and managed to push it under the gate. The bear was almost upon me but it was distracted by the scent of the cake, and stopped to reach under the gate. Its paw hit the plate, pushing it even further away, so the cake was safe, but I was not!
Then I remembered I had cake scraps in my pocket. I reached for a scrap and tossed it a few feet away. It worked! The bear rushed for that scrap and devoured it. That day I fortunately had a lot of cake in my pocket and was able to treat the bear to lots of scraps.
By this time the young man was upon us and managed to quickly put a chain around the bear’s neck and lead him away. I composed myself, figured out how to open the gate, and retrieved the cake.
When the young man returned I was on his porch talking to his mother. He came toward us and bowed down in front of me. “You are the bravest and most beautiful lady I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I must have you as my wife!”
“Oh no!” I said. “I’m just your cake delivery person – a servant!”
“What my son wants, my son gets!” his mother said.
In our city, for a girl of poor ancestry to marry a wealthy young man was unheard of. However these crazy bear-owning people got their way and so Jacob became my husband – long, long ago. Then my brothers and sisters got as much cake as they wanted every day.
The bear’s name, by the way, was Dulce, which is the Spanish word for “sweet”.
Every week a group of Happy Camp writers get together to … write! We choose a prompt and then spend fifteen minutes or so writing in response to that prompt. These days we’re using prompts from Take Ten for Writers.The prompt that helped me create this story was to imagine myself as a 400 year old person telling an 18 year old neighbor a bear story. I also had to use the first line given, “Before Louis XVI was King of France and no one made jokes about letting everyone eat cake…” and so, A Cake Delivery Girl’s Bear Story was born.