walking on custard

Distracted by Cake

3 Mar 2015

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I was intending to write the next part of a series about anxiety, but I accidentally wrote a story about a cake instead. I’m sorry.

The Story About A Cake

“Hello,” said the cake. “Have you ever met a talking cake before?”

As a matter of fact, Gerald had not, actually, met a talking cake before. Life had not prepared him for this situation, and since he was a little uncertain about what one was supposed to say, he remained quiet.

Gerald’s Inner Critic: This is pathetic stuff, Gerald. I mean, this is LITERALLY “a piece of cake”. You can’t even cope with something that is SO FAMOUSLY EASY to deal with that it’s an ACTUAL CLICHE. You’re a joke.

Gerald shushed his ranty inner critic. Normally he’d have been upset by the verbal self-assault, but he was a little distracted right now. By a talking cake.

“You’re a shy one, I see,” said the cake, happily. “Of course, I knew that about you. I’m your Soul Guardian.”

The cake went silent. Despite its lack of facial features or expression, Gerald somehow understood that it was pausing expectantly. What reaction was it possibly expecting?

Was he supposed to sigh in delight and exclaim how deep down he had always known that someday he would meet his “Soul Guardian” – whatever THAT was- and it would be a cake?!

Instead, Gerald’s silence became more silent still – if such a thing were possible – before he finally blurted out:

“Okay, I’ll bite. A cake?! My Soul Guardian… is a cake?!”

The cake remained motionless [Naturally. Cakes can’t move. It would be ridiculous to claim otherwise.] before responding.

“Well, yes, of course I’m a cake! What did you expect?”

Gerald sat down, massaging his temple.

“Well… I… I didn’t expect anything, to be honest. I’ve never even thought about Soul Guardians.” He shrugged at the cake, hoping as he did so that those googly eye decorations functioned as actual eyes.

“I just wanted something sweet from the bakery,” he continued. “I didn’t expect it… er, sorry… I didn’t expect you to talk…” He trailed off, and scratched his head. “But if I did think about it, I guess I’d have expected… er… something else. A goat, perhaps.”

“A goat.” The cake’s tone was distinctly flatter now, all flour and no marzipan. “You’d prefer a goat. May I ask why?”

Even Gerald could tell the cake was pretending not to be hurt. He cursed to himself. He was beginning to regret his choice of afternoon snack.

“Well… I’ve always liked goats. They seem, um, dignified. And, well, don’t take this the wrong way, but, I’m not usually a big fan of cake.”

The cake hadn’t moved during this entire exchange. [Again, it’s a cake. It doesn’t move. If you wanted an action story, you shouldn’t have started reading one about a CAKE.] But somehow, after Gerald’s admission, it became even more still than before.

Nothing happened for such a long time that Gerald began to wonder if he’d imagined the whole thing. But eventually the cake spoke up.

“I see how it is. Let’s get this over with, then.” If the cake had a mouth, it would have been practically spitting. “Will you be wanting to go on a magical journey to learn the deep truths of existence? Because that’s what you’re supposed to do with your Soul Guardian, you know. Of course, if you’d prefer I went and fetched you a goat instead…”

Gerald was surprised that such a sweet-looking cake could be so bitter. He was then immediately surprised at himself for having such strong preconceptions about the personalities of cakes. He interrupted the cake mid-rant, trying without much success to force some jollity into his voice.

“Oh, well, that would be nice! No sense in missing such an opportunity, right? Let’s go!”

He thought of a joke that might help. “Battenburg down the hatches! With a cherry on top! Er, haha…?”

“Don’t make jokes,” the cake said, sullenly. “Honestly, this is such a disappointment. I’d been looking forward to this all week. I thought you’d be so excited to meet me.”

The cake continued complaining to itself as Gerald stared on haplessly. “A goat… I mean, really, a goat…”

Suddenly, the angry muttering was interrupted by a mystical noise, like the reflection of a rainbow dripping onto a crystal goblet.

“Did somebody call me-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-h?”

A tiny goat materialised next to the cake, who screamed: “Oh my god! A talking goat..!”

“Hahaha. Hello, cake,” said the goat, genially. “Of course I’m a talking goat. What did you expect?! I’m your Soul Guardian…”

Gerald stood quickly and walked away without looking back. As he closed the door behind him he could still hear the cake arguing with the tiny goat.

He felt sure there was a deeper lesson to learn from this, but he had no clue what it might be.

Except for one thing…

He was going on a diet.

Neil Hughes

Neil Hughes is the author of Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life, a comical and useful guide to life with anxiety, and The Shop Before Life, a tale about a magical shop which sells human personality traits.

Along with writing more books, he spends his time on standup comedy, speaking about mental health, computer programming, public speaking and everything from music to video games to languages. He struggles to answer the question "so, what do you do?" and is worried that the honest answer is probably "procrastinate."

He would like it if you said hello.

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