The Chocolate Cake Accountant
There are 537 calories in a slice of chocolate cake. 352 when I scrape the icing off. A calorie measures how much energy is required from the body to turn food into energy. I don’t understand physics or chemistry or whatever jurisdiction calories fall under, but I know there is a balance to maintain. Too many calories in a day over a long period, and your body will stop burning calories and instead turn them into fat. Instead of water overflowing from a glass when you pour too much water in, the glass gets larger. I don’t think that is an accurate analogy, but it made sense when my mom said it when I was 13. I remember her face as she explained moderation, a patient but concern look in her eye, and the poorly masked condescension in her tone. Of course, I understood what this science lesson was for - I’m not stupid.
It was a Proud Thing
The barn at my Uncle's house was a proud thing; the haughty beams that criss-cross along with the ceiling and the pristine white paint somehow provided the effect the massive structure was looking down on us. And I suppose it was in a way - I had never met anything that large at the age of 11 and it had never met something as small as me. I wasn’t undersized for my age - if anything, I was too gangly and tall - all elbows and knees and sharp corners. Where the barn stood in steadfast confidence, no doubt of what it was meant to be, I stood its opposite.
The only company in the room is the metronomic tick tick tick of the clock across the room. Regardless of where I sit, I can see the red hand move at its unhurried pace around and around again. The single window provides a cold watery light, casting everything in grey, not unfamiliar to the feeling in the pit of my stomach. Beyond the dirty glass to the fields outside there’s an unnatural calm about the sway of the grass and silence of the skies. I’m reminded of a dying man taking his last breath unsure if it will be his last - wary to exhale. The birds that would swell in waves and blacken the sky with their small bodies have nestled into the trees or died. I miss the birds. It used to be the birds were my only friends, the only creatures in this place that understood me. Of course, I don’t blame them for retreating into the known when faced with an astronomical unknown. I can’t decide if it’s comforting knowing birds feel the fear too.