A Short Story
Torus of love. Frosting of light. Sprinkles of peace.
Wherever we gather, whenever we gather, we take the donut, we break it and we bless it, saying, “Take. Eat. Holy pastry purchased for you.”
And so it is with the coffee. We fill our mugs and bless them, saying, “Brown liquid of understanding, poured for you. Take, blow gently, sip. Creamer is in the back for any who need it.”
And the service begins.
Most days, Jack shares first.
“Good morning. My name is Jack and I love donuts.”
“Hello, Jack,” we reply.
“Sunday mornings were all about the donuts,” he begins. “My parents popped an 8-track into the stereo, usually the Kingston Trio, but sometimes Neil Diamond or America’s Greatest Hits. Then Dad would say, ‘Let’s go,’ and we’d hop into the car and drive the ten blocks to Dunkin’ Donuts. I’d always pick the chocolate crème filled, even though I kind of thought it was gross. My sister would get maple logs or some other godawful thing. I used the comics section of the Sunday paper to capture the drifts of powdered sugar.”
Here he gets a little misty-eyed. “Damn, I miss those times.”
And we raise our mugs to Jack and we dunk or not dunk, depending on our personal choice of donuts, and we take a large bite, savoring it, trying to become one with the donut, even if only for a moment.
After we go around the circle – always a circle – I step up to the center and make my plea.
“Friends, we thank you for coming. We thank you for partaking in the holy donut. And we thank you for your generous love offering of cash or gift cards.”
Folks drop what they can spare into the coffee canister I keep perched on a chair next to the door. They shuffle out, with promises to return next week.
Today, a young woman, she’d called herself Ruth during her testimony, held back after the rest of the group cleared out. She helped me stack chairs.
“I wanted to thank you,” she said. She couldn’t have been more than 25. Not conventionally pretty, she maintained an air of disarray that vanished, I’d noticed, while partaking in the donut.
“No, no,” I said. “Thank you for coming. We wouldn’t be here without folks like you.” Trite, I know, but in my experience, donut worshipers prefer their pastries large and their talk small.
She stacked the last chair and followed me to the front of the room.
“I just know there’s something in them,” she said. “It’s, well, more powerful than us.”
I nodded. “The sugar. Real addictive. You’ve got to be careful.”
I flicked off the lights and motioned for her to lead us out of the room. She lingered in the doorway.
“No,” she said. “It’s more than that. There’s an energy. A light. You guys seem to understand it. There’s power there, something…” She trailed off, bit her lip, then finally walked outside.
I pulled the door closed.
“We all sense it,” I said.
We put the group together last year when Jack and I found ourselves waxing poetic about the appeal of donuts. We started meeting at a local Dunkin’ Donuts until a rather dour woman named Charlotte started going on and on about Krispy Kreme. So to be more ecumenical, we started meeting at a local rec center.
“Well,” I said, “thanks again for helping straighten up.”
Ruth nodded, shoved her hands into her pockets and walked toward the parking lot.
I locked the door, then turned to find myself face to face with her.
“Oh,” I said.
“I’m Jessica,” she said.
Before I could ask about the name change or even blurt out my own name she backed me against the door and kissed me.
And kissed me.
And kissed me.
I did not resist.
She took two steps back, shoved her hands back into her pockets and then smiled at me.
“The power of donuts,” she said.
I nodded. The power of donuts indeed.
“Same time next week?” Ruth who was actually called Jessica asked.
All I could do was nod and watch her vanish into the darkness.
Torus of love. Frosting of light.