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by Elissa Dawson 10 months ago in Short Story
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Karma in the cocoa

Photo by Tamara Chemij from Burst

Did you know flour could be explosive? It’s something you learn as the daughter of a miller. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty benign stuff packed in the bag, it’s when a cloud of the dry carbohydrate particles are suspended in the air that the slightest spark can have an explosive effect. The innocuous fluffy powder that seems harmless in our daily bread has actually caused 124 explosions in mills and processing plants over the past thirty years, in this country alone. I’m contemplating that now as I carelessly tip a whole bag of flour into the mixing bowl, sending a huge puff of it up into the air. I watch it drifting in the sun rays from the window.

How would I do it though, how could I use it to exact my revenge?

I was that odd girl at high school. Bottom of the food chain, I was never invited anywhere and barely ever spoken to. I heard people say I had a smell about me. My papa, a single father, did his best, but money was so tight we had to use what we’d got. No new trainers or mobile phones for me. As he got older, his health began to fail and when he was laid off work, there wasn’t much food to go around either.

It was at one of those times when the Shallows first paid any attention to me. You know the girls I’m talking about, the ones who are perfectly preened and have to be at the very centre of every drama? I sometimes used to dream of being one of them and fitting in, but there were so many layers in the hierarchy between us, the best I could ever hope for was a passing greeting.

I was sitting in the cafeteria one day with my lunch – half a sandwich with the thinnest slice of cheese. I saw them all huddled around a table chatting animatedly and occasionally shrieking with laughter. One or two of them kept looking over their shoulders at me, giggling. Then the tallest, blondest one, wearing a tiara and sash, came over holding a plate with a big slice of chocolate cake on it.

“Would you like some cake? It’s my birthday!” She fixed me with her mega-beam smile and fluttered her eyelashes.

I stared at that cake for a long time. Four layers of fluffy dark sponge, with chocolate buttercream between each layer. On top was a rich chocolate ganache, with curls of grated dark chocolate and ripe cherries. Every molecule of my pride wanted to say no, but saliva flooded my cheeks and my stomach ached so badly that all I could manage was a weak smile and, “Thanks.”

She stood over me expectantly while I picked up the fork. It sliced right through the cake and before I knew it, it was in my mouth. It tasted of heaven, forgotten treats from my earliest childhood when mama was still around. I smiled up at her gratefully and she beamed back at me, tightening her cheeks even further. I closed my eyes for a second and when I opened them, I saw one of those sporty looking boys, Chris his name was, storming over angrily. Without a word, he snatched the plate from in front of me and dumped the contents into the bin.

“Asshole!” I shouted after him. My voice broke and I felt uncontrollable tears leaking out of my eyes. I grabbed my things and ran. The whole cafeteria erupted into laughter.

It’s been my life’s mission to hate him ever since.

Then today, he walked into the diner where I’ve been working since I left school.

I’d already served the Shallows at a table in the corner, all looking a little more tired than they had done at school, one with a baby in her arms. They were having some sort of celebration again, another birthday. He, however, took me by surprise when I looked up from a glass I was cleaning to see him standing there and saying, “Hi!”

“Hi,” I mumbled back, having to swallow the bile rising up from my stomach, “What can I get you?”

“A coffee please, flat white.” I turned my back to make it when he added, “How are you?”

“Good.” I replied, as politely as I could muster. I had no desire to enter into this conversation.

“Do you fancy going for a drink some time?”

A peal of laughter exploded from the Shallows’ table.

I put down the coffee cup and turned around.

“Look,” I started, “I have to serve you because it’s my job, but I don’t have to be nice to you and I certainly don’t have to take your crap anymore.”

“My... I don’t know what you mean?” He looked genuinely confused, “I just thought... ok forget it, it was just an idea, no need to shoot me down in flames.”

I saw red. “Shoot you down in flames? After what you did to me at school? That day with the cake...?” I was shaking now.

“But I...” his contorted face softened. He lowered his voice, leaned in close to me and took his time to speak, “I’m sorry. They put laxatives in it.”

That one sentence changed everything. I’d hated him all this time when he was only trying to protect me. He was the good guy.

Now I’m in the kitchen, whipping up something special for the Shallows – a chocolate cake. I thought about adding laxatives like they had, maybe just spilling it all over them, or creating a flour bomb and torching them all, but as I added the final squirt of cream, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I carried the cake over to their table, placed it down and said, “I made you a cake! On the house, for your birthday!”

Their chatter stopped and they looked at each other, then me suspiciously as I handed out the forks.

“Eat up!” I added, standing still expectantly and smiling.

From the other side of the diner, Chris watched me, raising his eyebrow over his cup of coffee.

Slowly, the tallest, blondest Shallow took the first slice and raised the fork to her mouth. She held the cake in her mouth for a long time, while I stood, watching.

“How is it?” I asked.

“HMmmum, good!” she nodded through closed lips.

The others began to dig in too, slowly. I stood there and watched them all eat in silence for another minute, then I turned on my heels and headed over to Chris.

The furious whispering started as soon as I left, with their forks clinking down hurriedly on their plates.

“How about we go for that drink now?” I asked him, taking off my apron.

“Sure!” he replied, shaking his head and laughing under his breath.

We left together, walking past the table of Shallows, who in turn stared at us, open-mouthed.

“I have to ask,” he said, opening the door and letting me through, “What did you do to that cake?”

“Nothing at all!” I grinned back.

He threw his head back and laughed, then he took my hand in his and for the first time I could ever remember, it felt like everything had fallen into place.

Short Story

About the author

Elissa Dawson

UK based writer and avid reader who aspires to create work that is both beautiful and meaningful.

Sustainability advocate and green ally.

I am working on a children’s novel.

Find me on Twitter: @WriterElissa

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