Ever since she could start walking, Carli's family discovered she was clumsy. She grew up covered in cuts, bruises, and scrapes. Most of them from tripping, some from bumping into tables, some from walking into doors. It was not odd to see a bandaid somewhere on her body.
Carli was not allowed anywhere near the sportsfield because the last time she was there, she broke her arm. And she wasn't even playing; she fell down the benches. She has broken her nose twice already, yet she was only seventeen.
Every gym class for her was like a disaster waiting to happen. More often than not, she was sitting in the nurse's office, tending to a wound. Their gym teacher was terrified of her and made her sit in the corner. And even then Carli managed to be hit by a ball or slip out of the chair.
So it was no surprise to Carli when everyone screamed ‘NO!’
But it was too late, she picked up the cake lying on the counter and made a sharp turn by the time she heard them all. Carli saw the horror in all their faces as she felt the tray lighten in her hands. She saw the cake slip off the board and slowly descend towards the floor with the help of gravity. Carli screamed, and at that moment, it was as if time stopped.
The house was beautifully adorned for the holidays. Carli spent hours working on the house with her siblings to make it look festive for the holidays. She was forbidden from decorating outside the house with her father. A step-ladder, industrial tools, and coils of fairy lights were a bad combination for Carli to be around. So she solely created the nativity scene, but she decorated the tree with her siblings. The lights on the tree mingled with the ornaments used to be cute. Although at the moment, the red and blue flashing lights seemed like they were forecasting a tragedy.
Carli’s mother’s mouth was open, mid-scream. The sorrow and defeat were clear in her bright blue eyes. Three hours of her hard work was wasted. Stray hairs fell out of her neat blonde bun as she extended her arms as if she would catch the cake herself. But Carli’s mother was too far and she wouldn’t make it.
Carli’s father sat still in his chair. He was relaxed, with the remote in his hand but the moment Carli turned around his entire body went stiff. His eyes went wide and looked bigger than there were because of his thick glasses. His eyebrows were raised high up, higher than Carli had ever seen them go.
Carli’s sister was applying lipstick when she saw Carli turn around. She screamed ‘No!’ and the bright red lipstick smeared at the corner of her lips to her cheeks. Her eyes were equally as wide as their fathers. Carli’s sister had strictly following a diet for an entire month and she was looking to let loose on Christmas day. From her expression, it was clear that all her hopes and dreams had crashed.
Carli’s brother was in the middle of recording a TikTok video when he saw her. He was mid-laugh and turned the phone so the camera would face her. He stopped mid-laugh when the cake slipped from the tray. He was sitting on the couch and stood up quickly with his mouth wide open. He ran his fingers through his already messy hair and mouthed a swear he would never say out loud in front of his parents.
The cake hit the floor with the saddest splat Carli had ever heard. Red and green icing splashed all around the table. Some of it got on Carli’s feet. The chocolate cake sat broken and defeated on the immaculate white floor. And then time went back to normal.
Carli’s mother tripped on the carpet in an attempt to catch the cake and fell flat on the floor as she screamed. Carli’s father stood up from his chair and rushed towards Carli’s mother, fussing over her and asking if she was alright. Carli’s mother did not move. Her heart ached more over the cake than her body did because of the fall. She sobbed once and did not say anything else. She just laid on the floor in misery and humiliation as her husband consoled her.
‘My diet,’ Carli’s sister softly whispered as she looked away. Her gaze directed towards the lipstick in her hand and she noticed how the tip went from a stylish softened slant to an uneven and blunt. A large crack was visible at the side and it made it look like the lipstick would break when used next. She mouthed ‘no’ and stared at the destroyed remains of her lipstick. It was an expensive and high-end brand she had to save up for weeks. Now she had to mourn more than just the delicious cake.
Carli’s brother went back to laughing as his whole body shook. He put his phone away and wiped tears from his eyes. When he looked around and noticed no one was laughing, he got quiet. He stared at Carli, then his parents and returned to his seat as if he wanted to be swallowed whole by the couch. He went back to staring at his phone and avoiding everyone else.
At some point during the commotion, their dog showed up. Probably curious about the noise. He whimpered, then walked up to the delicious mess on the floor. He looked at the rest of the family one by one. When they did not give him the answer he wanted, he whimpered at them once more. When he saw no reaction he proceeded to the cake. It almost looked like the dog shrugged as he licked the icing off the floor.
The silence hung in the air as no one spoke and everyone remained perfectly still.
Carli’s brother was the first to speak up, “I’m not cleaning that.”