Dear Miss Braganza,
This email has the objective of requesting you to cancel my order for your Signature Tin of six bespoke home-made whole wheat cookies baked with the choicest ingredients, including hand-picked cacao beans, sun-dried sea salt and caramel blended with the soul of angels. It’s not that I expect the cookies to be any less sublime than advertised – it’s just that I hadn’t noticed their price until you e-mailed me the invoice this morning.
As you might know, my husband lost his job as an investment banker last week, while my business also went down at the start of the pandemic, so we are currently in a phase of fiscal restructuring and may have to forsake your delicious patisseries until further notice. Admittedly, we may still be able to afford them if we take out a personal loan and repay via EMIs but it is unlikely any bank will sympathise with our need for gastronomic upliftment in these bleak times. Besides, we do not wish to attract the suspicion of Income-Tax authorities by letting slip that we are regular consumers of your high-street chocolaterie.
Therefore, kindly oblige me with this last-minute cancellation, and do keep us in your thoughts as we endeavour to restore our financial situation to former glory. We hope to be able to savour a mouthful of your extravagant baking soon enough.
Speaking of which, I apologize for this ill-timed query but in the interest of early booking – do you plan to have a half-price sale this year?
It breaks my heart to learn that your charming family is slipping into penury. I pray that you both find employment befitting your stature soon enough. The Lord says, hold out your palms and you shall receive – hopefully, enough to not need a personal loan to buy a Signature Tin of my bespoke home-made whole wheat cookies!
We do not plan to have a half-price sale this year. That initiative was aimed at making a beginner’s splash. Now that we’re established, I wouldn’t want to sell roses the price of daisies – know what I mean?
That said, you are one of my oldest neighbours, and it would be unseemly of me to let your temporary impoverishment undermine our friendship. Therefore, please accept this box of treats as a Christmas gift, with my best compliments. This isn’t a favour, just a small gesture of generosity on my part to counter the stinging cruelty of fate. I sincerely hope the succulence of my cookies brings you some cheer in these unfortunate circumstances.
On an entirely unrelated yet important note (and I was planning to say this to you in person, but well) – do get the CCTV camera on your porch repaired at your earliest convenience. You deserve to know all about the distinguished lady who pays your husband regular visits in your absence, and who is, likely, the reason her husband laid yours off.
All my love,
Megha Nayar will tell anybody who cares to listen that was longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2020 and the New Asian Writing Short Story Prize 2020. She teaches English and French for a living, and writes to remain sane. Her work has appeared in Trampset, Variety Pack, Versification, Burnt Breakfast, Brown Sugar, Harpy Hybrid Review, Potato Soup Journal, Postscript Mag, Ayaskala Mag and The Daily Drunk Mag, among others. She tweets at @meghasnatter.