I’m up earlier than early this morning with a sick child, and I didn’t feel like writing my usual existential crisis blog post. So here’s a short story I recently did for my writing group. First time writing in first person, present. Give me some feedback in the comments.
The Cake Boss
I tap my fingers on the counter, holding the phone six inches away from my ear as the owner drones on without needing any help from me. She may be a terrific baker, but she doesn’t understand anything about my process. My cakes are “to die for.” At least, that’s what the customers say. The crème au beurre is perfection. The filling defies gravity. So delicate, yet holding up an impossible number of layers. My cakes are already in demand at every wedding and exclusive party in the city, though I’ve only been working here three months. There’s a waiting list a year ahead. Not that I plan to fill all those orders. That’s why she’s so desperate. Somehow she senses I’m not going to be here long.
She has tried to entice me to give up my secrets, but she knows that if she presses me, I’ll just quit. I’m not trying to steal her glory. This is a side gig. It has helped me get where I need to be. But I still take pride in my work. I can’t do anything halfway.
She’s still talking. She sounds smug. She won’t find the secrets in the recipe cards she stole. Those are just mundane recipes for ordinary chefs, and I am no ordinary pâtissier. The important secrets are in my head.
Those secrets make the difference to the serious clients. Like the one I worked on this morning. The Cake of Immaculate Technique is still waiting in the back of the cooler, inside an empty bucket, where I left it before going to lunch. This is different than my “to die for” cakes. She couldn’t even fathom the feat I accomplished with this one. It’s hidden, because this is a side job. Cash. A whole lot of cash, to be clear, and the owner most definitely isn’t getting a cut.
I think I’ve missed something in the conversation. I bring the phone back to my ear and ask her to repeat herself. Impossible! She is telling me she knows about the cake in the bucket – no – she has the cake! She came and got it while I was at lunch. Damn it!
They’ll be here any minute. The party is tonight. I don’t have time to make another! Of course I won’t get paid if the job isn’t done, but the money is the last thing I care about right now. My reputation will be completely ruined. I’ll be ruined. Everything is crashing down around me, but she’s still talking. Oh. Her. Right, I keep forgetting about her, as the constant drone of her voice is easy to tune out. She is saying that she has poured a glass of wine and is going to spend all afternoon with my cake. She’s already had a few bites and she’s close to figuring out the secret of my impossible filling. Then she coughs. Just a small sound, but I know she’s out of words for good, so I hang up the phone.
Maybe the ambassador would be tempted by a perfect slice of my perfect cake, and I can still salvage my career.