clear your throat long enough for the words to come out, even if they scratch your throat while doing so

Douglas Roberts, known as Doug (loosely rhymes with dog), bopped his head along to a Jay-Z song. He looked over to the car next to his; a Labrador Retriever was grinning at him. He felt silly and changed the station.

He turned into Maria’s Bakery. He looked in the mirror; this was the end of his work day, but it was the morning for everyone else. He combed his hair with his fingers.

“Maria!” He said in faux-Spanish. “How’s it going?” The smell of the bakery brought a smile to his face.

Maria would have been a perfect candidate for type-two diabetes, had the irony of owning a bakery not kept it in check.

“Mr. Roberts.” Maria smiled. “Things are good. What can I do for you?”

Doug picked a dozen pastries.

“How is Mary?”

“Fine. Well. I thought I’d surprise her. She’s been quiet.”



“Is she mute? Does she have a cold? Something wrong with her throat?”

“No. Just quiet.”

“Ah. Take another one. Sometimes other things filter words.”

“Guess so.” Doug paid.

He reached his car and turned around.

“Maria? What did you mean by ‘other things’?” Doug was munching on a pastry.

“Oh, nothing. I was trying to make a joke. It didn’t work.”

“I don’t believe you.” He waved the pastry, softly mocking her.

“Good.” She looked at him. “The pastry. It’s good, no?”


“But it doesn’t let you speak. That’s it. Give it time and it will pass.”