Strawberry Sponge Cake With Cherry On Top

Submitted into Contest #100 in response to: Write about a character preparing a meal for somebody else.... view prompt

1 comment

Fiction Contemporary Sad

Janet stole a few glances at the clock before rechecking the temperature of her oven. She was hyperventilating over the cake that was still in the process of baking. What if it wasn't moist enough? What if the top layer turned out to be a little too crunchy? No, she wouldn't think of the million things that could go wrong! She was an exceptional baker, and this strawberry sponge cake would be another of her mouth-watering creations! Little Harry used to gorge on cakes and make such a mess! Oh, he'll love the overly-sweetened cherry on top, she thought. But should she serve him in that big bowl? Now, what cartoon was it that was painted on the red bowl? Harry is so addicted to those cartoons, she recalled fondly, always glued to the television.

Anyway, it didn't matter. Marlyn wouldn't let him near the TV. She has always got to watch the same sitcom, which never seems to end. No, Janet shook her head. I need to think about Harry and his bowl. He will throw a hissy fit if he doesn't see that bowl. What else can you expect from a little boy? But he wasn't so little now, was he? The last time he came... what did he say he was doing? Janet simply couldn't remember. Children grow up so fast! Only the other day, she saw Marlyn get dressed for prom. Who did she say she was going with? Charlie, it had to be Charlie. 

Eager to brush off the thoughts, she focused on the cake with renewed enthusiasm. It was better to attend to the delicious dessert than to remind herself of the fading memories. She would lie awake in bed all night, desperately trying to remember. But her mind always refused to cooperate. Oh, it wasn't Charlie. How silly of me. Lovely Marlyn would never go out with him. Daniel! It was Daniel, the athletic mechanic. The girls in town couldn't wait for their turn with him. But he'd always had eyes for my Marlyn; Janet smiled. 

The cake was almost at its prime. Janet was still tentative about taking it out of the oven. The downside of being a perfectionist was this feeling of inadequacy. Randy used to lose his temper every time Janet took too long to prepare his meals. Oh, poor Randy. She hadn't been to his resting place in God knows how long. It was the accident, wasn't it? He'd been so awfully sick. Although she didn't like to admit it to her kids, she missed her husband. She would imagine him standing beside her, giving her an earful. But Janet couldn't quite recall his face. He wore those thick-rimmed glasses! No wonder she never looked into his eyes. 

Ding! Was it the doorbell? Randy wasn't due until seven. Randy? Jesus! What was she thinking! Frustratedly limping towards the door, Janet swore at herself. Why was her brain always this jumbled-up collection of memories? She was expecting to see her kids, not her long-dead husband. But there was no one at the door. The cake! She sighed and traced her way back to the kitchen. Ding! The oven made the familiar noise one more time. Taking out the cake, Janet grinned. It was just the way she wanted.

What would go well with the cake? She rummaged through her kitchen cabinets and refrigerator, hoping to find the best accompaniment. No, nothing there. Well, the children would have to settle for the cake alone. They would probably be full-up, anyway. They must've already had a ton of snacks at the movies. Janet wondered how awkward little Harry must feel in the company of his sister and her friends. But Charlie could always make the boy laugh. Or, Daniel, was it? 

Suddenly, Janet remembered she had forgotten to read her Bible that day. Deciding that she was too tired, she said a quick prayer and promised to read it at night. Connie was so particular about Bible study. Would Connie come by later that evening? Janet would be bored after the kids left. Connie was good company even though she insisted on eating healthy and playing cards. Janet had never been one to eat salad or play bridge. Never mind, she was a good friend. 

Moving with difficulty, Janet set the table. The cake was at the center. It was beautiful! I've got to find the bowl and a packet of chips; Janet muttered. Little Harry never liked sharing with his sister. But then again, he wasn't perhaps so little anymore. What was it that Harry did? He was a mechanic, wasn't he? Silly me; she reproached. Daniel was the mechanic. Harry said he would be reading some paper. Good thing the boy had a reading habit. It'd do him good. Not able to strain her legs any longer, Janet sat down with a thud. She fixed her eyes on the cake again. It was missing something. The cherries! She had planned to decorate it with a bunch of cherries. Little... Harry loved cherries.

I know I have some in the kitchen, she convinced herself and rose to her feet. Why did her feet hurt so much? She must remember to ask Randy for the medicine. He was good with medical matters. But where was Randy? She hadn't seen him in quite a while. Find the cherries, girl! She scolded herself and started to walk in the direction of the kitchen. Only she was headed the wrong way. 

"Mom!" someone shouted from behind, making Janet jump in her skin. 

"Marlyn? Where's Daniel? He likes strawberry shortcakes, rights? I forgot the cherries, but it's still yummy," Janet said excitedly.

"What're you talking about? Who's Daniel?" Marlyn sighed. She seemed exasperated. "Rob couldn't make it. Remember Rob? My husband? Anyway, Harry's here. He's parking up."

"Parking up? Don't tell me you let the boy drive!" Janet frowned. "It's a pity I couldn't find his cartoon bowl. I'll get him some chips."

"I can't right now, Mom," Marlyn said. She was at the point of tears. "We're here to take you to the nursing home. I know you've forgotten the plan. But do me a favor and be quiet, will you?"

"Don't worry about my feet," Janet laughed. "Randy will take care of it. I don't need to go anywhere to get it cured."

Janet was about to respond when Harry stormed in. He ranted about some problem with the car and prompted Marlyn to wrap up matters. They needed to leave immediately.

"But the cake?" Janet asked, looking at her kids pleadingly.

"You can't bake now, Mom," Harry said. His tone suggested he was talking to someone who wouldn't understand simple instructions. "I don't want to sit here and eat a salty cake, pretending it's amazing."

"That was just the one time, Harry," Janet insisted. "This one's perfect. You'll love it!"

"We've got no time for it," Marlyn agreed with her brother. 

They packed up Janet's belongings. Not that she would require much at the nursing home. Ten minutes later, they were on their way. The cake still sat proudly on the table. There was nothing wrong with it. It had the right amount of cake mix, the right amount of sugar, and an extra bit of love. Even with her mind all over the place, Janet had baked a perfect cake. Sitting uncomfortably in the car, she still regretted not having those cherries. Maybe if she'd found those, Harry would have feasted on her delectable dessert. 

July 02, 2021 19:10

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1 comment

Rustys Logic
04:32 Jul 10, 2021

Wow! You have developed Janet's character so well. I wanted to yell at Harry and the others to just eat the cake! Because of all the effort she went to! Great story.


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