Nicole J. Simms

Cake for a Neighbour

Post date: 2nd August 2020
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Cake for a Neighbour by Nicole J. Simms

‘I’ll make a cake. That’s what I’ll do, and I’ll make it now.’ Sally rushed into the pantry, pushing pots and pans aside. Where was it? Oh, she really did need to sort out this pantry.

‘Aha! Here you are.’ She grabbed the round baking tin and pulled it out from under the clutter of pots and pans. Yes, when she had time, she would sort out this pantry. But now, she had a more important job to do — make this cake, and make it now.

Sally left the pantry, walked over to the kitchen counter and placed her baking tin on it. She threw open the cupboards below the kitchen counter and scanned its contents to find the flour, sugar and baking powder. On spotting each ingredient, she pulled them out of the cupboard and placed them on the counter. She rushed over to her fridge. Butter, eggs, milk, she listed in her mind. ‘Eggs!’ said Sally, staring at the empty egg compartment.

She ruffled her hair and sighed. Damn it! She’ll have to go to the bloody shop now.

***

Sally closed the front door, tossed her coat on the coat hook and hurried back into the kitchen. She placed the box of eggs on the counter and returned to the fridge. She took out the butter and milk and placed them on the counter next to the eggs and the dried ingredients. She opened the butter. ‘Greaseproof paper!’ Sally turned and looked on top of the wall cabinet in search of the greaseproof paper. But the only items were foil and cling film, no greaseproof paper. ‘Fucking hell!’ Sally sighed and left the kitchen. ‘Off to the bloody shop again.’

***

Sally studied the ingredients on the kitchen counter and mentally checked off each item in her mind. She smiled. Finally, she’ll be able to bake this cake. She walked over to the pantry. ‘Bowl, bowl, bowl… aha!’ She grabbed the blue mixing bowl, left the cupboard and returned to the kitchen counter.

She pulled out the cupboard drawer next to the sink and took out her wooden spoon. Normally, she would use her electric mixer, but this cake needed her hard work — for so long she had promised to make this cake, but couldn’t find the time. But today she needed to make time and honour her promise.

Sweat dripped from Sally’s brow as she mixed the cake mixture. ‘Okay, that should do it.’ She wiped her brow with the back of her arm and tipped the mixture into the lined baking tin. She put the cake into the preheated oven, closed the oven door and checked the time on her mobile phone. ‘It’s twelve thirty-five, so the cake should be cooked by — vanilla!’ She threw open the oven door, yanked out the cake tin and dropped the tin onto the oven hob. She then rushed into the cupboard.

How could she have forgotten the vanilla? She sighed and grabbed the vanilla extract and hurried back to the oven. She sprinkled a few drops into the cake mixture and slowly stirred it in. ‘That’ll have to do,’ she said and returned the cake into the oven. Sally again checked the time on her mobile phone and added forty minutes. Everything would be okay now. She clicked on the kettle. And a nice cup of tea will calm my nerves, she thought.

***

Forty minutes later, Sally returned to the oven; she picked up her oven gloves and took out the cake. Her heart sank. How am I going to fix this? Sally thought, eyes staring at the sunken cake. Butter icing should do the trick. Yes, Betty wouldn’t know the difference.

Sally hummed along as she mixed the icing sugar and butter. Butter icing made, she took her palette knife out of the drawer and spread the butter icing onto the cake.

Sally stared at her finished cake. It wasn’t her best cake. If Mrs Johnson from across the road saw it, she would likely say, ‘Oh, Sally, I thought you ran a successful baking business.’ And soon the whole street would know about Sally’s appalling baking skills. But this cake was for Betty, and Betty would love it, flaws and all.

Betty was a lovely woman, and so welcoming when Sally and her family moved in next door — unlike the other neighbours on the street who Sally called Mrs Johnson’s posse. Sally would hate to lose her only friend on the street. She sighed and picked up the cake. ‘Right, best bring it round.’

Sally pressed Betty’s doorbell, and a tweeting sound rang out.

The front door slowly opened, revealing Betty. Sally stepped back, attention focusing on Betty’s tear-stained face. ‘What’s happened?’ said Sally.

‘Oh, Sally, it’s Thomas, he’s gone missing. He never came back for breakfast.’ Fresh tears streamed down Betty’s cheeks.

Betty’s words sunk in as Sally’s mind wandered back to yesterday.

***

Sally reversed onto her drive. ‘I can’t believe I forgot the bloody cupcakes.’ A screech rang out, and the back wheels rolled over a hump. Sally slammed the breaks, heart racing. What had she hit? She climbed out of the car and checked behind it. She gasped and threw her hands to her head. ‘Oh, Thomas!’ Heart beating fast, she checked the street for any prying eyes. The close was clear. She climbed back into the car and positioned the car properly on the drive, hiding the cat’s body.

What was she going to do? She’d lose her only ally if anyone found out. Mrs Johnson’s posse wouldn’t see it as a simple accident. ‘We keep telling you drivers to be more careful. I’d thought better of you, Sally.’ Mrs Johnson would say.

She and her posse already suggested drivers who killed animals should lose their licence and be jailed as they would if they had hit a person. Would they want Sally to be jailed? Would they scowl at her every day instead of saying good morning? Would they stop buying her cakes? She could lose it all: her home, her business. Would Betty hate her for killing the only thing she had left in this world?

No, she couldn’t let that happen. There was only one thing she could do. She would bury Thomas. Cats often run away. No one would need to know. No one would need to hate her.

***

‘Is that for me?’

Sally looked at Betty. ‘Yes, yes, it’s the cake I promised I would make you… I’m so sorry about Thomas.’

‘I’m sure he’ll find his way home soon. I’m just being silly.’ Betty opened the door wider. ‘Come in, come in.’

‘He meant a lot to you.’ Sally strained a smile.

‘Don’t worry, I’m sure a bit of cake will cheer me up, and Thomas will be back. He always comes back.’

Betty stepped back into the house.

‘I’m sure he will.’


The End


Copyright © 2020 Nicole J. Simms. All Rights Reserved.

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