Red Velvet marble loaf with cream frosting and chocolate chips

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Sugar was exhausted.

She had been pacing the hallways of the psych ward for what seemed like hours.

Sheila was out speaking to Mark's father on the phone. She was still wearing the white chef's jacket that every kitchen staff was required to wear the only difference was that her braids now poured down her back and not in a tight bun like it had been a few hours ago. The cap that was covering her hair had been removed too.

Sugar traced and retraced her steps as the events of the past few days.

How had she missed it? How? He'd seemed so happy? Was she that terrible of a girlfriend? That she hadn't noticed Mark spiralling?

He had stayed with her while she braided her hair. Eating fried chicken and chips and talking about mundane things.

He had worked today too.

She looked at the time. It was eleven passed two am.  It wasn't today again. It was tomorrow.

He had worked, smiling and enthusiastic. How hadn't she seen it?

Her mind replayed the events if the past evening to her over and over again.

Her exhaustion.
Cooking and cooking and cooking but happy.
Smiling.
Mark coming in a few times and helping her out.

He spoke to the waiters, addressing them. He spoke to the customers making them feel welcome.
She had felt a bit bad that she hadn't been out at all.
She wiped her hands on the hand towel closest to her and asked Faheem to man the kitchen for a little while.

She had walked out to the eating area and spoken to some guests, introducing herself. They liked her desserts. She was extremely pleased with herself.

Then she had seen Hannah seated in the booth by the corner. A boy opposite her. She suspected it was Izzy, and Hannah confirmed it when she introduced them both

The boy had stood up. He was taller than her now. She smiled and spoke to them like they were friends.
She sat with them.
Hannah had told her that her food was good. Sugar was pleased, she told her about school and her job and Izzy's endeavors.

Then Hannah went another direction with the discussion.
She needed money. Their mother was sick.

Sugar was mad, annoyed, sad, angry. She had thought this too good to be true.

"Why come to me" Sugar had asked

"Because you're our sister" Hannah said.

"And obviously bucks-upped now" Izzy added.
Izzy had the mouth to speak. When she'd left their house he was not even five.

"Against all odds right?" Sugar had replied. She hadn't meant to be so crass, it was anger.

"Sugar... The doctor says she just needs two doses to get better. Sugar please"

"How much for the two doses?" Sugar had asked

"120k" came the reply. The girl was smiling like she expected Sugar to cave

"I don't have it. "

"Sugar... She's your mother... "

"Do you know how much a prosthetic leg costs?"

Hannah shook her head

"The cheapest one would cost me 500k. Do you know what 500k is?  And if I have to get one that is comfortable for me to be able to do this job that I do then 1.5Million is the minimum. Do you know what that money could do for me? But every 3 years, I spend that on a new leg. All my savings go to my leg. Your mother made loose my leg. Because she claimed she couldn't afford a tetanus shot that cost 2500 naira!" Sugar yelled. She lowered her voice afraid that people at the other booths might hear her.

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