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The Great Cake War

by Travis Pittman 6 months ago in Short Story · updated 6 months ago

After a bad day, this was just the icing on top.

It had been a day. No, no. Not just a day, a terrible day, a day of epic, horrible, incalculably awful proportions. You see, David had just learned that his best friend, Austin, was leaving for the summer to some extended survival camp, training…thing. He kind of spaced out when he said that their plan from before, that they had both agreed on for the summer, was now ruined. Their other friend Caleb had a new tabletop game they were looking forward to, one that took hours to complete a single session of, over an extended campaign. A board game they couldn’t possibly complete during the school year because there wasn’t enough time.

This was enough to make a bad day on its own, but it got worse. His shorts ripped during gym, he had to read through Echo and Narcissus with Ellen Bodart in Lit class (embarrassing), and the cafeteria ran out of tots before he could get his tray.

The summer was definitely ruined now, because you can’t play an extended game like that with only two people, especially when one was Caleb, who was the least nerdy of the three friends and prone to not pay attention if things ran long. As David continued to walk home though, his pace did begin to quicken. He couldn’t fix the summer, but he could fix today, because his grandmother who visited after church yesterday had left behind…The Cake.

Let’s take a brief moment to discuss why this cake deserves the honorific The as opposed to a simple a. A cake that had been sitting out for one day was likely to have lost some of its grandeur, tasting slightly dry and off, but David’s grandmother didn’t make just any old cake. She made The Cake. The Cake could sit out for days in the hot desert sun, buffeted by scorching wind, and would still taste as if the heavens themselves had opened up to deliver this gift. He had watched his grandmother make this cake before, trying to figure out the secret as his elder threw ingredients together with only a single cursory glance at the recipe. He swears she must have slipped something special into it when he wasn’t paying attention, but to this day he only knows the end result. Layer upon layer of chocolate cake, delicious cocoa dancing with dashes of coffee and vanilla, each layer idly separated by the buttercream frosting that surrounded the outside as well. His dad said that his grandmother’s cake once briefly halted the world war, which resumed when only one piece remained and no one could bear the thought of passing it up. David didn’t doubt for one second that the story was true; he would fight someone for less.

That was exactly what was at stake today. The last slice of cake had been carefully wrapped in plastic and placed in their fridge. He would microwave it, having determined a year ago by carefully heating it second by second that 23 seconds would create the most perfect, gooey consistency for the icing, and the cake would be wonderfully warm. There was even some ice cream in the freezer, the perfect side item to launch this already legendary cake even higher.

David began to sprint along the sidewalk toward home. Maple, Pear, Oak, Magnolia Street! He flew down the way, towards home, a beautiful street of hedged homes each with a couple trees (none of them magnolias as his dad always pointed out) to provide shade to small, well-manicured lawns. He finally reached his own home and dashed toward the door, fumbling his set of keys before successfully opening it. He dashed inside, backpack dropped along the way, rounding the corner of their small entry hall and turning the corner to the kitchen to—

To see his father, casually sitting at the bar, wiping his face with a napkin and tossing a paper plate with the sad remnants of cake crumbs upon it into the trash. “Hey pal, where’s the fire? Didn’t realize school was over already.”

David was speechless from more than just his sprint over here. “Was…was that the cake?”

“Yeah bud, I left work a bit early to polish it off, couldn’t quit thinking about it.”

“Grandma’s cake?”


“Is there anymore?”

“No bud, that was the last piece. There’s ice cream in the freezer if you’re hungry.”

David slowly turned away and walked back down the hallway. He absent-mindedly passed his backpack as he walked toward the front door. It had been a day. Not just a day, a terrible day. Wait, even worse, a damned awful bad day. Its one chance of redemption was currently being digested in his father’s quite ample belly, and he didn’t even eat it with ice cream. This unspeakable crime was just too much. David glanced in the coat closet in the corner, carefully perused the items within, and selected his green wiffle bat, whose plastic always made the most satisfying thwonk, and the two red wiffle balls, which he swore always flew the straightest. When he returned to the kitchen his dad was washing his fork and a glass in the sink, humming tunelessly as he worked. David took a deep breath, hefting the wiffle ball a few times as he lined up his shot.


Short Story

Travis Pittman

Read next: The Painter and the Pear Tree

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