Vintage fabrics, of which the starfish aloha shirt was an extraordinary example, caused Gloria's breathing and pulse to quicken. Thinking of her neighbors, gleeful and resplendent in their own tropical prints, took her attention away from the baking marathon intended to replenish depleted stores. Hers was, for the moment, a gingerbread house without gingerbread.
Sometimes Gloria wished the world could be more like fiction and such anachronisms could exist, the sewing workers taking regular coffee breaks, enjoying lunches brought from home as they sat on a patio that overlooked a river, waving affectionate good-byes at the end of a reasonable work day. Meanwhile, a quality-control department was inspecting each garment for the least flaw, then trundling them along to shipping for folding carefully around tissue printed with the company's name in copperplate script as it had been since the beginning. Fabric, like china and silverware, were time machines for Gloria. She wondered just for a moment about reincarnation, then turned her attention back to the ripe strawberries sweetening the kitchen air.