Andrea’s glee at selling breads was short-lived. Who knew the police were on Instagram? Once she had posted that all the breads on the third morning was sold out, a cease-and-desist notice had turned up in her inbox. It was illegal to have people at her home who did not reside in her household. Now, she was stuck with a whole lot of flour.
The police officer had suggested she apply for a permit to be considered a caterer, offering baked goods to essential workers, but it would take a few days to be approved. She did not want to risk a fine. Money was a premium now.
“Mommy, can you help me please?” Ryan’s voice coming from the bathroom jolted her into action.
“Coming baby. What’s wrong?”
Ryan stood at the sink attempting to brush his teeth.
“I can’t see in the mirror. Can you lift me up please?”
She smiled at his efforts to stand on tiptoe on the stool near the sink.
“Up you go.”
She buried her face in his neck, which made him giggle even as he brushed his teeth.
“Stop mommy. I need to spit.”
She flipped him horizontal which made him giggle and spurt out the toothpaste. Andrea helped him rinse his mouth and wiped his face before squeezing him tightly.
“What would you like to do today? We’ve got it all to ourselves.”
“Don’t I have to go by the sitter?” Ryan looked up at her as they got comfortable on the living room couch.
“Nope. The police say we must stay indoors. Let’s see what’s on TV. You get first pick.”
“Oh yeah.” Ryan grabbed the remote and as she expected, headed straight for his favorite dinosaur cartoon.
Andrea cuddled her son and tried not to worry about money. It was hard. She had been counting on this move to Montserrat to get her life together. A global pandemic had not been anywhere on the horizon when she had put all her money into purchasing the three-bedroom house in Old Towne. She loved the residential community. The homes were spread out across gentle hills and valleys and the volcano was in the distant. The main town was less than thirty minutes away, but she rarely needed to go that far unless she was getting groceries or banking.
She searched for the notebook and pen she kept in the side table near the couch and began to scribble. First it was just about her frustration and her fears. Then she wrote a resolution to come up with a way to be proactive and not to worry about her lack of finances. Ryan’s giggle at the antics of the dinosaurs made her pause and smile. She reached over and kissed his cheek and he snuggled closer.
Writing one last note about being thankful for her son and her life, she closed the book and dug in for a few hours of TV watching with her favorite male.
David smothered a yawn and tried to concentrate on what his client was saying. For the fifth time in as many months, they wanted adjustments to the software. Even more frustrating than the fact he was missing sleep, was that the very changes they were now requesting, he had recommended they implement at the start of the project. An unnecessary expense, they had said. He would feel no remorse at taking their money, as the original agreement excluded the current request, and he planned to bill them at the top of the scale for the upgrades.
His eyes landed on the note that had come with the batch of rolls, a few days before. He tended to doodle when he was stumped with coding and since receiving the gift, he had created a few concepts for a Breads by Andrea logo. He had also sketched her face and drawn a cartoon of her and her son laughing in the back yard. He had been debating leaving the drawings as a thank you for the bread. More than likely he would end up tossing the drawings, but he was drawn to her. She was beautiful. Loved her son fiercely, from what he could see, and he really wanted to know her story.
David forced himself to recite back to the client the changes they wanted and requested that they sign off on the adjustments before he could begin. Once the call disconnected, he sent off a preliminary invoice for the work. He was not expecting any issues with the integration because he had already coded the site with the possibility for the extension.
He shut down his system and organized the desk. He stuck the doodles in a folder and stuck it in the desk drawer. He looked towards the window but resisted the urge to see if they were outside. He needed to get some sleep as he had lined up a few meetings with clients in Asia for later in the night. If he were lucky, she would invade his dreams and maybe some more bread would turn up as well.
At noon, Andrea turned off the television and invited Ryan to join her in the kitchen to make lunch. She loved to prepare meals with him. His endless questions were a great way to understand how his little mind worked.
The bell on her phone chimed, indicating she had an incoming video call. Ryan peeked at the screen and screamed.
“Mommy, it’s Aunty Vicky. Can I answer it?”
“Hello Aunty Vicky. Guess what?” Ryan propped the phone against a bag of sugar. He bent so his chin was on the counter and he was eye level with the phone.
“Hi Sweetness. Let me see. You discovered a dinosaur under your bed?”
Ryan laughed. “Nope. Guess again.”
“You found out that Mars is made of purple candy.”
“Is it, Mommy?” he asked, lifting his head to see his mother’s face.
Andrea laughed. “Aunty is messing with you.”
“You’re out of guesses, Aunty. I don’t have to go to the sitter anymore. I get to stay home with mommy forever and ever.”
“What? Wow.” Andrea’s sister feigned shock at his pronouncement.
“It’s not forever and ever, Ryan. Just for the next few weeks.”
“But that’s a long time too, Mommy.”
“So, what will you and mommy do with all that time?” The words were directed at Ryan, but Andrea knew her sister was concerned about what she would do now.
Vicky had not been pleased with her decision to move more than three thousand miles away on an island she had not seen since she was five.
“Well, we’re going to watch lots of TV and then we will cook.”
“We? I’m the one cooking. You said you were going to help me eat.” Andrea poked her son and went to wash her hands.
Ryan laughed. “Mommy is cooking. I’m going to eat.”
Her sister laughed. “Your mommy is a great cook so whatever she cooks will be yummy.”
“How about you set the table for me please? In fact, let’s eat outside on the back verandah today.” Andrea handed her son two bamboo plates.
“Yes mommy. Bye Aunty. Love you.” Ryan dashed off with the plates to the back door. The plates were shatterproof so she was not worried that he would break them.
“Love you, baby.” Her sister said.
“How’s it going up there?” Andrea took Ryan’s seat and propped her elbow on the counter and rested her head on it.
“It’s crazy. We’ve added three hundred new cases in my hospital alone.” Vicky worked in a London hospital and she had been growing increasingly concerned about her exposure to the virus.
“And you’re being careful, right?”
“Yes, big sis I am. How about you? What’s happening down there?”
Andrea stood up and began to wipe down the already clean counter. “We have a few cases and we’re on lockdown for the next week. No one can come in except nationals and residents.”
“Wow. What about all those bookings you had?” Andrea could hear the concern in her voice.
“Poof!” Andrea mimed an explosion and sat down. “It’s all gone. I don’t have one client left.”
“Oh my God. What are you going to do?”
Andrea explained about trying to sell freshly baked bread but being shut down for it.
“It will take a couple of days to get a permit and frankly, I don’t have the equipment to make the amount of bread I would need to cover my expenses.”
“Focus on keeping the lights on. What is the bank offering for mortgages and loans?”
“I’ve already applied for delayed payments. But if this thing sticks around for six months, I won’t be able to resume payments. I need something that will keep me going long term. There’s no way I can wait for travel to come back.”
“You need some new options. You’re incredibly good with social media. How can you use your accounts to sell something people want that won’t get you in trouble with the police?”
“I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure this out. Most of my audience are people who aspire to travel. They can’t go anywhere now so what do I sell them?”
“Aspire is the key word, I think. You’ve got what more than ten thousand people on your account, but would you say less than one percent of them book a trip right?
Andrea looked at her sister baffled. “I am not sure where you are going with this. But you are right.”
“You continue to sell aspirations. That is still what people want. To dream about travelling until they can. What can you sell to feed that desire?”
Andrea thought for a minute. She recalled an email newsletter for travel experts that suggested virtual tours and experiences. Vicky was on to something. She had a ready audience. They were waiting to hear from her. She had scoffed at the idea because she had no plans to ever go on camera or post more than cool looking pictures.
“What’s the idea you want to throw away before telling me?”
“I don’t have a camera or any lights for something like this.”
“Whoa. You’re jumping ahead of me. What did you come up with?”
“A travel expert suggested we sell virtual travel tours or teach something people want to learn.”
“Oh, that is right up your alley, sis.” Andrea could hear the excitement in her sister’s voice.
“Why do you say that?”
“I have called you ten times since you left for how to make grandma’s chicken soup and you’ve answered me with the same level of patience and clarity every time. You can do this. Teach how to make the recipes that you create for your VIP guests.”
“You want me to give away trade secrets?”
Vicky laughed. “You can do the session live. Promote it on your social media and send an email invite. They sign up and pay. You tell them what ingredients to have and you all bake or cook together. A virtual cooking class. Wine is a must. You can do this.”
Andrea could see the idea come to life in her head. She didn’t have a fancy camera, but she had the latest smartphone and lots of memory. It was possible with some practice.