the cake is a lie

They were eating cake that was not quite as moist as the Platonic ideal of cake when he paused with his fork-full-of-cake distractingly nowhere near his mouth and said, I don’t understand what you want. What do you want? and she put down her own fork and said, It’s very simple, really. I actually have a list in my purse for situations such as this and she pulled it out and handed it to him. Can’t you just read that to me, he said, I want to hear it in your own words. She said, No problem at all! and she took a sip of tea and cleared her throat. She glanced outside and noted that the sky was dark and growing darker and the wind was beginning to lift very light objects off the ground and toss them back to the ground a few inches away, as if in boredom or disgust. She knew it would get much darker and the atmospheric conditions much more worrisome soon, very soon, so she spoke quickly and with conviction. She would not eat any more cake today, she decided; cake was not what she wanted, not on this day, of all days. 

First of all I would like a bird, bright blue, yellow, or red, to perch on the windowsill outside my bedroom and advise me on matters of importance, preferably inscrutably, so that the bird’s meaning remains a mystery throughout my life, something to ponder when I’m old and perhaps come to understand only on my deathbed. 

Second I would like to be able to fly the way I already am able to fly in dreams, without any superfluous equipment, without any discernible anxiety, without giving any particular thought to the matter at all.

Third I would like an apology. 

Fourth I would like to get home before the snow flies, and the snow will be flying soon, so I’ll be going now and I advise you to do the same. 

While she spoke he took three bites of cake and the sugar in the frosting grated more sharply against his teeth with every bite. He thought he could feel the individual crystals of sugar as they dissolved on his tongue. The electric lights flickered as she finished speaking and everyone in the room looked up, but happily, he thought, as if hoping that a bounty would crash through the ceiling tiles and they could rush to collect it. I’m sorry, he said. But now it was completely dark and he couldn’t see her face, only her form as she put her list back in her purse and rose to the ceiling.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “the cake is a lie

  1. Sabine says:
  2. Peter Newton says:

    What a skillful shaping of language here to evoke a feeling of “boredom or disgust” so much like the wind itself just kicking up outside. A surreal quality pervades this piece that puts the reader’s grasp on reality in question. A parallel to the speaker’s original questioning theme and tone. “What do you want?” An age-old question no one has ever answered in exactly this way. I read and re-read this haibun each time saying: take me take me–and my imagination lifts-off toward some alternate reality. With deepest appreciation, Melissa. –Peter

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