Rotting Cakes.


Liv did something unforgivable, she knew. And maybe it was better to leave it alone, leave the burning fire in a pit of sand that could die out by morning. But things would change this time. 

She could change her circumstances with an apology. Change her attitude with an activity like baking though she’s never really picked it up. Change her relationship when she writes how sorry she is in buttercream frosting. 

So, on a warm May afternoon, she took a trip to the local grocery store. Pulled out a written list of ingredients that sounded like they would taste better on their own. Then she was back. 

And she was sorry as she cracked the eggs into a bowl. Sorry when she poured the batter into a circular tin. Sorry when she pulled it out of the oven as it caved in the middle. 

She patted the lumpy clump of cake out from the tin and onto a glass plate, watching as the cake pooled out as pieces of both muck and mush. 

“Did you make that just now?” Her mom spoke from the hallway upon seeing the rest of the cake splash out of the tin, commented that it “looks a bit undercooked,” and pulled her face into a more crinkled version of it. 

Liv sighed, taking a spoon and scooping pieces of mix into the garbage. But she wouldn’t give up hope quite yet. She was apologetic enough to try again. 

So she gathered another round of ingredients once again, sorry when she shaved off the excess baking soda from the measurement. Sorry as she cracked two more eggs into the batter. Sorry when the cake this time managed to stick itself on the pan to where she had to scape the crystalized crust with a steak knife. 

“Did the other one turn out okay?” Her mother asked, turning when she heard the shrill sounds of metal on metal. 

Liv continued to scrape the remaining residue grunting out “not really,” when she hit a rough patch in the pan. 

“I’m sure if you apologized to Ingrid in person she would appreciate it more.” 

Liv looked up, wanting to sigh, scream, and yell all at once. Her plan was perfect, since she knew baking was something Ingrid’s mother used to do with her. And it was something she knew Ingrid would forgive her over since she would realize how much Liv remembered, how much she cared. To deliver only herself at Ingrid’s doorstep and fumbling over forgotten words would do more harm than good. 

So she would continue baking until her hands turned to dough, checking the oven and mixing the ingredients until the sun sets. Because she would do anything to make Ingrid stay her best friend. After all, they’d already spent a lifetime collecting memories that interweave like branches on a tree. It would be a pity to chop it down now. 

Eventually it was midnight, the final batter she could make before buying more was sitting at the bottom of her oven, heating up just like she had wanted it to. And she was sorry as she opened up the oven thirty minutes later. Sorry looking into a golden center with a slightly toasted edge. Nearly crying tears of joy as she tipped the pan over, a perfectly crafted cake sitting on a glass plate in her kitchen. 

“It’s done! Finally,” she yelled to no one, gasping when she could finally open up the icing. 

It was finished. And she was sorry as she wrote “I’m sorry” onto the cake. Sorry when she set it in a plastic cake tin for travel. Sorry when she left it in the fridge for the night to let it cool off, ready to be shipped off in the morning. 

“Did you finish that cake?” her mom commented when she began to wash the dishes from the early morning’s breakfast. 

Liv nodded, doing little to hide the smile on her face when she opened the fridge. 

“I did.” 

She grabbed the plastic tin, placing the finalized cake in front of her mom. 

“You did that?” 

“I did,” she said again. 

And she was proud when she showed off the cake to her mom. Proud when she drove to Ingrid’s house with her apology in the passenger’s seat. Proud when she unloaded it from the car and walked it up to Ingrid’s porch, ringing the doorbell as she waited. 

But then something tipped her over the edge, like a glass beginning to overfill. The moment Ingrid had opened the door, it swung and hit Liv’s arm, opening the plastic tin and finished cake for the worms to eat on the concrete of the porch.

The two stared down at the once perfect cake, now a heap of cold icing on the ground. And Liv was tired of feeling sorry, her apology didn’t amount to anything more than the buttercream letters sticking to the pavement. Because Ingrid did this to her. Made her feel worthless for trying so hard to do something nice for once but what has she done for her? Nothing. So now she was nothing when she began to cry. Nothing when Ingrid wrapped her arms around her when all Liv did was blame her for her mistakes. 

Nothing when Liv fell back into the rhythm of her old habits.