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The Cake Mistake

Some background on Bob: Bob is invisible, and he is my twin. He came out of a rather silly conversation between myself, my brother, and my grandma. My brother mentioned Bob, my twin, and I just kind of ran with it. Invisible Bob is a spy, so he is rarely home, but this adventure occurs in one of his rare visits.

—This report is confidential. Please do not reveal these details to the public.—

Invisible Bob and the Cake Mistake

It was a chilly Monday morning in January when Bob came home for a brief visit with his family. He had, in an unfortunate turn of events in rural Venezuela that involved twelve professional dancers, a very secret message, and a displeased chicken farmer, missed Christmas. He felt rather bad about it – and worse, he was due to fly back to Venezuela (there was some cleaning up to do) early in the morning on the thirteenth: mother’s birthday. So it was that he slipped in on the eleventh and announced his presence to me, his loving and visible sister, in the cruellest of ways; namely, by tapping me on the shoulder and cackling maniacally. This is his favourite way of letting me know he is home.

Of course, we exchanged pleasantries. I was very excited to see that he was home safely, or course, and I let him know how disappointed we had been not to have him at Christmas. Once we had been happily reunited, he told me his plan. “I figured I would be able to tell Mum ‘Happy Birthday’ and all that, even if it is a day or two early. And I could make the cake, if that’s alright?” Now, I am not a particularly good cake-maker, so I caved easily. The Incident happened while I was away.

In the afternoon, while Bob was making the chocolate cake, I decided to go for a walk. I would have stayed to converse with my beloved and often-absent twin, but Bob immerses himself fully in whatever task is before him. He would not so much as speak when he is trying to make the perfect birthday cake. I decided a walk would be more productive. When I got back, Bob had one layer left to attach to the cake, and the cake was a disaster.

“Bob!” I exclaimed, “What happened to the cake? I thought you could manage this!”

He laughed at me, but it was a nervous, preoccupied laugh. “Well, it’s actually kind of a funny story…” he began. “So, look, a few months ago, I blew up a cake shop in… well, I had better not say where – but I blew up a cake shop.” I must have looked disappointed because when he next spoke it was defensive. “It was a mafia front, okay? I made sure there was nobody inside first. Even the mafia members who were there escaped via secret tunnel. I had to chase them down to arrest them. But that isn’t the point. The point is the cake shop – there was one, and now there isn’t. You can see how people would be upset. Well, that may or may not have something to do with today.” I waited patiently for him to get to the point.

“So, I was just setting the second layer on top of the first, right? Yes. You left the door unlocked, which I mean is fine because I was here and all, but turned out worse than we really expected. The enemy just waltzed right in while I was looking at the cake. I was only slightly concerned for my own safety, in fact, I was going to go right along with them, only I wanted to finish the cake. I told her that, I said ‘look, I’m not sure why you’re here, but can you just let me finish this cake for my mother? Then I’ll come right along.’ Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, they weren’t here for me. My comment about the cake seemed to infuriate them.

‘Cake!’ they exclaimed, ‘what makes you think you deserve cake, after all you’ve done!’

I said ‘look, I won’t even get to eat this cake. Why don’t you just hold on and we can talk about this.’ That attempt was unsuccessful. They pulled a nano-bomb from their belt and started the detonation countdown, which fortunately was at four minutes and fifty-five seconds. Then, they threw the bomb into the cake.” Here, Bob paused, probably to breathe. I waited. “As I said, the countdown started at about 4:55, which was plenty of time. The enemy agent left immediately, probably because, should that bomb have gone off, the entire house would be flattened. Rather importantly, I would be dead, and there is a matter of national importance that absolutely requires my presence in Tibet in two weeks. There is no getting out of it. Imagine, a bomb in a cake causing Canada to be at war! Of course I immediately fished the bomb out of the cake – hence the mess on this side here – and took the appropriate measures to disarm and dispose of it.”

“That is a rather elaborate tale,” said I. Bob said nothing for a moment, and I had no cues as to what he was thinking. He continued to spread icing on the side of the cake. “Not that I don’t believe you,” I went on after a while. “It just all seems rather far-fetched.”

“That cake,” Bob said with certainty, “Is a national hero. Imagine what would have happened if the cake hadn’t been there to distract my enemy: it would have been a shootout instead of an averted explosion. I would have died.”

I nodded very seriously in response. “A hero indeed. But is it still edible?”

“Absolutely,” Bob confirmed. “Perfectly safe. My hands were clean and everything. The only thing wrong with it is that is a bit misshapen.” he sighed. “I only hope Mum likes it.”

I felt around a bit, then patted his shoulder reassuringly. “I’m sure she will like it just fine when I tell her what happened.” I assured him.

“Yes,” he sighed. “That’s my neck,” he said next.

“Right,” said I, removing my hand, realizing that he must be bent over to finish the icing, “Sorry.”

“Anyhow, the cake is about done now. It’s, um… it’s as good as it’s going to get, I think.” We both contemplated the cake for a moment. Then, Bob sighed. “Just put my name on the card, alright?”

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2016 in From My Pen, Short Stories

 

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Like a Shadow

no one has noticed I’ve slipped away from the party

I much prefer it out here. It’s quieter, more peaceful, there’s no pressure to be someone I’m not. I can take off my shoes – they’re uncomfortable anyways. I sit on the edge of the patio and turn my back to the house, looking instead into the dark night. Tilting my head up, I stare at the stars and try to tune out the noise from inside. I relax and let go of the feeling of being surrounded all the time.

I prefer the sounds of the crickets and of the occasional car going by to the blaring music and raucous laughter inside. It’s just too loud for me in there. I prefer being alone with my thoughts to having to make conversation. People always ask about the life I should have but don’t actually, and I don’t like trying to explain that I’m okay the way I am. Not that I feel inadequate. I don’t. I like my life, but I don’t like defending it. People never understand.

I much prefer being alone out here to wandering from one conversation to another, never speaking. I could join in, of course, but I rarely find a topic I feel I can speak authoritatively on. It’s easier just to listen, or to slip away and think about the really important things. I’m too serious, and nobody really cares to hear about those kinds of things. I like it out here better.

I much prefer the cover of darkness to the glare of light inside, to the knowledge that people are looking at me, if not for me. There’s not much too look at. I’m plain in comparison to the others here. I don’t bother with the makeup or the elaborate hair. I don’t want to spend more money on something I won’t be comfortable wearing. My dress is in fashion and I’m clean and neat – I’m not here to make a statement. People just notice I have nothing to say and move on quickly.

I much prefer it out here, or at least that’s what I tell myself. I’m choosing to be alone – I’m sure I could talk with a few of the guests if I wanted to. I’m choosing to think – I’m sure they would welcome my input in a few of the conversations I overheard coming out here. I’m choosing to leave – I’m sure people have noticed and just understand that I want some time to myself. The noise from inside is suddenly louder, and I hear a familiar voice nearby – someone has opened the door and stepped outside. I know them. Have they come looking for me? They never realise that I prefer – oh. Never mind, they’re just getting more drinks. I think I’m visible from there, but they don’t say anything. The noise swells again, then is muted as the door shuts once more. Good.

I much prefer it out here.

 

 

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Still Life in Greyscale

you burst like a grainy image through the heart of my memory

Sometimes she looks around her and thinks of him. She looks at her husband, at her sons and grandsons, and thanks God that they are here around her. Her children and grandchildren will remember their fathers in bright, brilliant colour. The colours of summer on the prairies: sky the bluest of blues, yellow canola, the warm, dark brown of his eyes that her boys had inherited, that always looked at their children with love. The colours of his dress shirts and patterns on his ties. They will remember him in the red of a Santa costume at Christmas. They will remember their fathers in motion: playing football at picnics, throwing them in the air and catching them securely. They will remember him teaching them to dance, to barbeque, to do push-ups properly. They will remember their fathers with sound: his laughter, his gentle scolding, the way he greeted people at their door or at the church. They will remember his terrible singing and the way he told them stories. She is thankful that they will remember their fathers alive.

She thinks of her father and thinks that he must have been a colourful man, at one time. Her mother used to tell her stories of all kinds, but she never knows what to do with them. Her father doesn’t have colour, motion, or sound. Because her father is just a picture, a photograph in black and white of a handsome man in uniform.

She doesn’t remember her father in colour. She knows about his bottle-green eyes, and his black hair and moustache, and that he lived on the same colourful prairie as she now does. She knows the uniform he wore was the dull khaki of a World War Two soldier. She knows that the picture of him that hangs on her wall was taken outside, and that there were purple flowers behind him. But in her mind he is a colourless man in front of a grey house on a cloudy day. He is hard to see.

She doesn’t remember her father in motion. She’s heard about the dancing, and that he played hockey and liked to take her mother ice-skating. She’s been told that he held her and rocked her, that his arms would always open wide to get hugs from his nieces and nephews. The closest she can get to imagining his movement is the jerky dancing in black and white films, or the scrambling action scenes in war clips, things she knows he once did. In her mind he stands ramrod straight, smiling a bit but not ever shifting. He is firm and tall and strong, a good soldier and a statue.

She doesn’t remember her father with sound. She knows he used to sing a bit: he sang love songs to her mother and lullabies to her. She knows his voice was loud and light, that you could hear it over everyone else’s at parties. She knows he loved to laugh. But in her mind he is silent. She doesn’t know his voice.

But despite all this, when she looks at her husband and her children and grandchildren, she remembers him. She remembers being a little girl, sitting under his picture and telling him things, the exciting things and the sad ones. She remember his presence in her life, not as himself but as other people’s memories of him and the stories they told. He is there for her growing up in the form of ‘your father would have said’ and ‘your father would be proud’. When her family and friends ask about her father, she tells them that he was a brave man who went to war, that he was a friendly man who brought joy to others, that he was a kind and good man. That much she sees when she looks at his picture, the smile playing on his lips even as he gets ready to leave, going unknowingly to his death. That much, she knows from the stories. Even though her father is a photograph in black and white of a man in uniform, her memory of him is of love.

 

 

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