Sheltons Organic Turkey

if I empty out all the unimportant stuff here, maybe there'll be more room in my head for important things

name: shelton brett
location: western u.s.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Piece of Cake

A Piece of Cake, a piece of fiction

I wouldn’t eat that, she said. It made her a little sick when she had a piece, something like upset stomach is what she mentioned. The top of the cake was a year old. I unwrapped it gingerly so as to not disturb the frosting. Layer after layer of aluminum foil, then plastic wrap. The freezing process had left the basket-weave decoration of the white buttercream icing intact, the four layers of amaretto chocolate were still moist to the extent that the cake hardly had any little crumbles avalanche down the radius as I cut a generous piece. I slid my slice onto a paper plate and picked up a fork. It was tradition.

When the previous August had come to a close, it marked the first full summer in our new home together and everything was still fresh. A honeymoon in Jamaica, and a move to the suburbs where we could both commute to our new jobs in opposite directions. In moving here, she sacrificed her position on the corporate ladder to accept one with slightly less potential and less prestige, but closer to where I found work. The choice in location only seemed fair. After all, it was me who had put up with the outrageous commute for the two years previous, spending half of my weekend driving up to the city where she had taken a job. Just to spend a day or two a month with her. It was worth it. After we were married, it seemed right that a compromise in location was the decision to make. I know she didn’t like our location, but I thought it was working out pretty well. Now the commute was only slightly inconvenient for both of us. I took a bite of cake.

In November we took a trip to the coast. It was breezy with autumn but the pier amusement park was still in full swing. Tourists lined up to win cheap prizes that had corporate logos stitched into their furry chests. A long walk along the beach turned chilly as the dusk came and went. She had changed her mind, she said. She wanted to put off a family for three, maybe four years. After all, we had time, and this way we could enjoy the married life even longer. She reminded me how we needed to get established first, after all, what was all that school for if we weren’t going to take advantage of it? It was a good point. She’s always been practical that way. I could handle it. I took another bite of cake.

It was sometime in February that she didn’t call. Her business trips often take her out of town, but she was usually pretty good about saying goodnight and talking about her conference activities. It was no big deal. She had met an old friend from her undergraduate days and went out for drinks. When she got back, she was tired and just forgot. He was just an old friend. It was only a few drinks. She just forgot. I took another bite of cake.

In April we went to another wedding, the first we’d been to since our own. She looked absolutely stunning in a dress that was modest—to the extent that I worried that she would attract more attention than the bride herself. She looked simple, and regal, and this was the way she has always looked to me. I knew that in fifty years, I would still be attracted to her dark blonde curls, her kelly green eyes. Somehow we ended up in an argument at the reception. Something about how she was spending too much on frivolous items, while I didn’t care about what she thought was important. Later, I was around the corner when I heard her tell one of my friends that I was cheap.

Even after a year the cake tasted very good. The chocolate still had the bitterness of the dark bean and the icing was smooth and light. The cake was every bit as palatable as the first night we ate it. The first night, at our reception, when we chose not to smear it in each others’ faces. That night we used forks and offered the first bite to each other with the love and tenderness that our relationship had, that it would continue to have. Now, tasting the cake again, it still had that wonderful texture and flavor of the very first bite. I devoured each forkful with unexpected hunger until the paper plate had nothing left but a few chocolaty smears. I barely made it to the bathroom before I threw up.