Fiction logo

The Cake

Mother had laid out quite the spread for my brother’s 12th birthday: lemon-frosted cake, Lamington fingers, Iced VoVos, damper, meringues, and … The Cake.

By Svetlana SterlinPublished 2 years ago 4 min read

July 2nd, 1973

Dear writing journal,

I’m only writing to you because Mother made me promise. Father says I should be ashamed. He’ll be looking for an admission of guilt when he flips through these pages to check I’ve really been filling them out.

This morning we were all seated around the table together, for once. Mother had laid out quite the spread for my brother’s 12th birthday: lemon-frosted cake, Lamington fingers, Iced VoVos, damper, meringues, and … The Cake. The Cake.

Glittering gold-leaf caught my eye as I reached forward for a napkin. I found myself blinking away reflected sunlight. The Cake was scattered with chips of hammered gold—only the best for my dear youngest brother—but I looked up and saw that The Cake had diminished in size. Only one slice remained. There it was, laying innocently in the middle of the table: the last one.

Just like me, children all over the world had for so many years admired the magic and wonder of the mud cake, but never had they tasted Mother’s perfected recipe. Not too dry, nor too crumbly. Not too rich, nor too bland. Sweet? Yes—and this was the trick. The icing of The Cake doesn’t take away from the batter. It sounds rather simple, doesn’t it? But I’ve never tasted any chocolate cake that I yearned for, fought for, or sacrificed for as I would for The Cake. It had become a symbol of our childhood in the Franzmann household and was more than worthy of its capitalization.

But now, as I glanced around the table, I saw my parents engaged in conversation and my sisters arguing through their cookie-stuffed mouths. I was beginning to think the coast was clear when I caught the challenging glare of my brother. His hand slipped out from under the table, slithering closer to the last slice of The Cake. A smirk crept across his mouth, and his eyebrows danced above his glinting eyes.

At this, I stood, knocking my chair backward, and lunged forwards, almost leaping across the dining table. With—mind-boggling, if I do say so myself—speed, I snatched the sparkling slice safely out of the reach of potential predators.

I sat back in my seat, The Cake snuggled in my palms. I looked across at my brother, and this time it was my turn to smirk. But when I met his eyes, I didn’t see him pout, or frown, or even grit his teeth. The smirk hadn’t left his lips.

But at least I had The Cake, secure in my bare hands. For about ten seconds, warmth clung to my insides. But then I noticed the silence that had settled upon our meal. My parents had stopped chatting, my sisters had shut their mouths, and everyone was looking at me. My sisters were now smirking at me, too, and The Cake started to feel hot in my hands.

I wanted to drop it or return it to the platter in the center of the table, but I knew this would mean I had conceded. Instead, I brought it to my lips, hoping that perhaps The Predator would become jealous, but he only nodded: Go on, he indicated.

I cast my eyes down to my plate, which now reminded me of the well outside of our barn.

My brother took a brownie from the selection before him. We glared at each other from opposite sides of the table. He raised the brownie to his mouth. This was my chance.

I took a bite of The Cake, but he set the brownie down and watched me chew.

The cake crumbled between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, the chocolate too rich, like rotting fruit. The icing I had so revered felt like slime, and the whole thing tasted like mud.

And would you believe it? My brother started crying—actually crying. Real tears streamed down his freckled cheeks and Mother rushed out of her chair to comfort him.

I gulped, but the cake refused to wriggle down my throat.

Outside, the sun continued shining, as if everything was alright in the world. But it wasn’t; I looked at the barn and saw for the first time that the roof sagged, and the wooden slats of the walls were riddled with mildew.

I'm afraid I must avoid chocolate for some time.


About the Creator

Svetlana Sterlin

Svetlana Sterlin is based in Brisbane, Australia, where she writes prose, poetry, and screenplays. The founding editor of swim meet lit mag, she also edits with Voiceworks.

More from Svetlana:

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.