"Rosie! Rose!" I whisper , shaking my sisters shoulder. "Are you awake?"
"Mmm.." she grumbles. "Katie, I'm tired".
"But Mum made bread! Come on!"
Rose rolls over and slips out of bed. I pad swiftly down the hallway, and she follow, her slippers softly scuffing.
"Shhh, don't wake Sam up." I warn. As we tip toe past our big brothers room, the man on his Metallica poster glares at us. Rose whimpers. She's scared of the dark.
We run the last metres to the kitchen, and pull on the heavy door. The first light of morning sheds a warm glow on the window panes, and the bread maker stands like a treasure chest on the bench.
"What if Mum hears us?" Rose questions, eyes wide.
"She won't!" I pull a chair up to the bench, and we clamber up. Slowly, I open the lid of the bread maker. Immediately, the delicious aroma envelopes us. A smart tap proves the loaf hollow, ready. I lift it out carefully, place it on the board.
A moment of awe passes. "You get a plate, I'll get the spreads" I decide, reaching for a tub of creamy butter and some red raspberry jam.
Next, I choose the biggest knife in the drawer. "Careful Katie!" Rose warns, backing away. She fiddles with her hair while I cut a big slice. "I don't like crusts!" she reminds me.
The first bite tastes like heaven. "Yummy! 'Nother piece" Rose demands. We eat three each, before a thump startles us.
"Sam's coming!" I exclaim, hurriedly finishing my mouthful.
Sam looks grumpy, and his hair stands on end. He stares at Rosie and I, then the loaf, and back to me. "Hey! You ate all the bread".
"There's half left." I say, jutting my chin out.
"Yeah, we're 'llowd to." Rosie follows suit.
Mum says that Sam is a teenager, so that's why he eats so much food. Once, he ate a whole roast chicken at Grandma's. She wasn't happy.
Rose and I don't know what to do with him, so we go into the lounge and play happy families.
"Mum. Mum. Mum!" A sharp yell ends my reverie, brings me to the present. That was 20 years ago now, those wonderful kitchen raids.
"Tayla took my crayons!"
"You tell her that Mum says to give them back. Ok?"
She nods, and I turn back to my work. Piles of homework lie unmarked on my desk, while I check my watch. "Oh, shoot!" I told Mum I'd bring the kids around at 4.
When we finally arrive on my parents doorstep, I pause and sigh with relief. "The kids haven't eaten" I warn Dad, who has little Tayla wrapped around his legs. "Thats quite alright. Nana is baking some bread. You look tired, Katie. Do you want to come in for a bite to eat?"
The internal battle commences. I'm on a diet... it'll ruin my figure... I really shouldn't. "Oh, I've got things to do at home" Dads face drops, almost imperceptibly.
"Katie, honey. Do come in" Mum's voice carries down the hallway.
"I guess I could spare a few minutes." I dare to smile.
And then I smell it, that familiar yeasty loaf. It takes me back to a place where life was simple, and wonderful.
An hour later, I sit back in my chair; satisfied. While Mum brews a coffee, Dad and I chat about the kids.
As I feel myself relax, I realise how much I've missed my family. Sometimes, the other things just have to wait. Another loaf expands in the oven, and I cuddle my daughter who sits quietly on my lap.
It's been a long time since I last stopped to smell the bread.
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