Cakes by Carol
It brought a strange comfort; somewhere in the folds of fondant she felt she had stowed away dreams she had held on to for too long, dreams she was too tired to carry any further. She was happiest when the show was on, in worlds lit up briefly by candles, ending when the pantomime was put out by breath. What did it matter then? No matter the spectacle, it was spoof in the end, a farce made real, made larger-than-life by the dance of smoke smokescreen sugar-screen She had dreamt of building towers of concrete like the models in her childhood room and here she was, learning to balance layers of cake on stilts of sugar. A twenty-first century woman, she had thought breadwinner, independent - all words reserved for men. Instead of big, fat cheques that made the world go around, she was dealing in sprinkles and chocolate chips. Instead of heading the boardroom, she was ushered as an excuse, a side act, like the clown, only sadder. They were the real deal - mommies in Lululemon who placed the orders sliding seamlessly from treadmills to skyscrapers, suited-up or stripped down at command, daddies who came gliding in limousines and told her to keep the change, always in a hurry to leave the block. Her job? Making replicas from replicas, a painter copying the artefacts of maestros. She was playing in miniature what she had failed to play in real. Google the picture of a perfect life and build it in marzipan. Air bubbles have texture when treated right. Stiff peaks of egg whites, could they hold a monument on their weight? A monument to abandoned dreams, a Madonna sculpted in dregs. She needed the sweetness to swallow the evening before the evening swallowed her whole. They were balm for her soul, the corners she shaved off the sponge, odd angles ousted by the recipe’s decree. Those hours passed like thorns when the kids were asleep and the man still mid-way between work and home; every day she deferred a meeting with herself. The times she caught her image in the hallway mirror, it was a ghost she saw, wrapped in a shroud of castor sugar, dirty kitchen of ‘Cakes with Carol’. He had begun to avert his eyes at the diabetes ad; she was way more skillful at avoiding the truth; no amount of sugar could sweeten what had curdled deep inside her.