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by Amye Barrese Archer

For three months I was an artist. Red, green, blue, purple, bluish-green, red with a streak of white, an ugly brown fused together by red, blue, and green. These were the colors that adorned my coat everyday when I came home from work. I was stained by my art, streaked with inspiration, dyed the color of artistic freedom. Every day from six o'clock in the morning until two in the afternoon, I was Picasso. Passerbys would stop dead in their tracks and stare at my work.

"How does she do it?" some would gasp.

"She's a genius!" Others would mutter.

The children would freeze, their wide gaping eyes amazed at the virtual pinwheel of color before them. The whites of their eyes became gumballs in every shade, cranberry red, sky blue, butterscotch yellow. I saw them there, I was aware of them, but it did not affect my work. I would simply glance at them, knowing they envied me, relishing in their jealousy. I created masterpieces. I imagined an art critic would call my work a cross between Kandinsky and Monet, bold in color, romantic in execution.

Butter-cream, whipped, non-dairy, and chocolate butter-cream. These were my mediums. Cupcakes were available also, but it was understood that you wouldn't get my full artistic vision on a cupcake. I did birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, bachelorette parties, graduations, and any other occasion that required a sugar high to get through. I was the Auguste Rodin of icing, I could sculpt a pair of baby booties out of butter-cream icing as skillfully as Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.

Unfortunately, Sams Club, didn't find my art as intoxicating as the customers. They felt that for the hefty salary of seven dollars an hour, that I should obey the status quo, which was like decorating cakes for Nazi Germany.

"Amye," My manager Lori hobbled over to me on her fake left leg, "Did you do a cake for the Bushinski graduation yesterday?"


"How many roses are allowed on a graduation cake?" Lori glared at me.

"Two on a quarter sheet, three on a half, and five on a full sheet, with two rosebuds for each rose." I was beginning to sweat, the colors streaking together on my apron as I wiped my brow with it.

"Marie said you put thirty seven roses and several vines on the Bushinski cake."

"I wanted to express the idea that graduation was the blooming of possibility."

I worked two more days at Sams Club until I had to move back to college for the year. As I left my boss told me their icing costs were three times as high while I was working there, than ever before. They never called me to come back. I like to think that somewhere out there, Ms. Bushinski and her family are still talking about that fifteen pound graduation cake.