Harper looks me in the eye. Really looks me, then walks off towards the display cakes. I blink a couple of times, trying to get my bearings before following her line of sight – a Mississippi Baked Cheesecake topped with chocolate cream rosettes. It doesn’t matter that it was sprinkled with peanuts (of which I am deathly allergic too). When Harper’s eyes find such gleam, you cannot escape from it.
One of Harper’s favourite excuses to eat this cheesecake is when one of her family members, who is ambivalent to decision-making and tastes, celebrates their birthday. Unfortunately for her, it was not this day.
We went home with a three-tiered Black Forest cake, chicken ribs, and a sour face. Sulking, I blasted the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack to amuse myself.
“Jack Sparrow would have wanted that cheesecake.”
“Captain,” I correct her. And she blows raspberries at me. Harper’s sort of stuck in a limbo at the moment. She aches for her newly acquired camera to arrive, and she aches, physically, between her left shoulder and neck. She says it’s always been like this. I turn down the volume and I pinch a chicken rib from the set.
“I can’t wait to see the stars!”
And it’s true. Harper’s travelling to New Zealand close to the end of this year. Her soul sister is traversing half the world just to do so. She didn’t have many options earlier this year when her focus had been to look for jobs and the variety of weddings she’s been to. But, she thinks, it’s been a rewarding, selfless, human-sensory-explorative half a year. She’s ready to divest into late-spring and no care.
“Be brave,” she tells me once, when I wouldn’t budge into trying that mint chocolate chip ice cream at the chocolatier. She tried it, despised it, and flaunts it.
She says, “At least I tried it.”
And she’s right. She really is.