Is there any hope left when your love of many years desert and replace you, leaving you only with cupcakes as company? As Martha plunged deeper into despair, cupcakes brought more than just company and comfort to her.
BLACK VELVET AND CUPCAKES
Carefully I peeled back the paper cup and sank my teeth into the moist, soft sponge of the cupcake. I closed my eyes as I delighted in the first burst of flavor of chocolate and vanilla on my tongue. I allowed the bite size confectionery to rest in my mouth for an instant before slowly chewing it. I wanted the moment to last for ever. I hate change! I prefer the predictability of the familiar; the known of routine and ritual; of keeping things unchanged.
Cupcakes had always been my comfort food of choice but since the divorce they became staple food. They carried with them memories of my childhood when life still held promise of wonderful adventures and of obtainable possibilities. During my adult years when times were difficult I would always reach for these small delights which carried with them remnants of hope. Now, I was painted into a corner and they kept me company in my solitude.
My hand reached for another friend, this time a white sponge with caramel topping. These were not the best quality cupcakes that I ever had the privilege of acquainting, but they were the best I could do at this point in my life.
The divorce had left me jobless, homeless and without hope for the future. After years of being lifestyle farmers with my high school sweetheart, he did not regard it robbery to replace me with a younger version of myself. With a slight of hand he defrauded me from my share of the farm and the business and served me with an eviction notice from our marital home and a summons for divorce from our marriage. It had all happened so fast that it had left me breathless and stunned in its wake.
Caught up in the nightmare I ran and hid from the penetrating eyes of the world, seeking to escape their accusations and my own fears and insecurities. I holed up with the cupcakes as my only companions, seeking absolution but also hope for a miracle that would free me up to a new world and life.
There is however, no hope or answers in low quality, store bought, and two day old cupcakes.
I had hit rock bottom!
I had scraped the last of my savings together to make the payment on the flatlet that I was renting from the owner of a launderette. The small apartment which was situated above the shop, vibrated the entire day with the droning of heavy duty dryers. It became a lullaby to me, gently rocking me into complacency and the belief that this was how my days would end. I accepted the fact that there was nothing left for me in this world than the small room, my solitude and the ever present cupcakes. But cupcakes cost money and so do small rooms and I was fast running out of this commodity. The only thing I had left was me and I did not want me anymore. I did not like myself or enjoy my own company. I had been rejected by the man that for so many years professed his love to me. With the blink of an eye I was replaced by someone new. I was discarded. Now I rejected myself as well.
My mood was dark and became even darker as the days went past. I was longing for a way to end it all; to rid the world of my presence and to make an end to my misery and pain.
The days flown the one into the other and before I knew it, it was two days before the rent on the room was due again. My mood turned from dark to pitch black. There was not a ray of hope or light left anymore.
It had been days since I last showered or put on clean clothes. I had not opened a window or a curtain in weeks. The air in the room was stale and I reeked of defeat. Ushering in the last days before my ultimate surrender, I decided to make one final cupcake call. I pulled a dirty jersey over my rumpled clothing and not bothering to wash my face or brush my teeth I went down to the small corner convenience store in search of my last fix.
Displayed on the bakery shelf were glorious pink and white angel cakes, chocolate nutty wonders, rainbow kisses, all arrayed in the most glorious of colors celebrating the wonder of life. This was not what I needed. I needed a cupcake that said finality; that reflected the dark mood of failure and defeat. I needed a dark chocolate cupcake topped with misery, dripping bitterness! I made my disappointment audibly clear. Yelling at the assistant behind the counter I made my frustration known. “Where are the dark chocolate cupcakes? Who needs sunshine yellow cupcakes? Or fairy pink that promises to melt in your mouth? Who wants caramel or nutty fudge toppings? I want sad! I want pain and misery! I want to celebrate death and ending that comes to us all!”
I emphasized my words by banging with my fists on the glass front of the display case. “Think death! Think funeral! Would you serve these colourful wonders at your grandma’s funeral?” Shoppers curiously glanced in my direction while others looked at me with open hostility. I did not relent. I needed the darkest of dark chocolate cakes to end my days in this ungodly world.
Support came from an unexpected corner. “Yes, we want dark, very dark chocolate cupcakes with the darkest of chocolate mousse toppings and bitter chocolate sauce on the side,” a girly voice next to my piped. I turned to look into an alabaster white face studded with facial piercings. Large blue eyes darkly rimmed with kohl peered at me from underneath a shock of midnight black hair. The skinny girl was dressed completely in black clothing. Death came to collect me even before I could arrange my own funeral. I was a failure even at that.
“No, wait!” I said to her with a voice that quivered with emotion. “I haven’t arranged my own funeral service yet! I cannot go with you now. Please, just give me two more days.” The small face looked perplexed.
“Sorry, I don’t understand what you are talking about. I am here to get some cupcakes for my party and I can’t seem to find dark chocolate cupcakes anywhere in this city. This bakery was my last resort. It is my turn to host the monthly Fornever get together and I am in desperate need of these cupcakes.” As if reminded about her actual purpose of being here she turned back to the shop assistant and demanded again, “What do you mean you don’t have any dark chocolate cupcakes? I desperately need them…” and looking at me she reiterated, “We need them.”
Dumbfounded the assistant stared at us and slowly backed away from the counter as if fearing for her safety. Frustration was written all over the skinny girls pale face.
“I can bake the cupcakes for you.” At first I was uncertain about where the voice came from but seeing the way little studded girl was looking at me, I realised that it was me who spoke. “I can bake the cupcakes for you,” I repeated a little bit louder this time. She did not look convinced. “I don’t have a place where I can bake it, but I know how to bake cupcakes.” Her lip curled slightly at the one corner as she whispered to me, “Do you live on the street?”
I was shocked and appalled at her question. How dare she insinuate that I was destitute? Then it dawned on me…in a sense I was! “No, I don’t live on the street. I have a flat nearby but it only has a small kitchenette and I don’t have any bakeware. If you supply the kitchen, bakeware and ingredients, I will bake the cakes.” She still was not convinced.
“Do you live on the street?” I asked her. Shocked she retreated slightly from me. “No,” she replied, offence thick in her voice. “Great, so we have two things in common. We both don’t live on the street and we both are in dire need of cupcakes.” I was desperate and would use any means to get what I wanted. “Let’s make it three. Let’s bake the cakes together.”
Suddenly the store manager loomed behind her. “I am sorry but the both of you will have to leave,” he said sternly not even bothering to explain why. He took her firmly by the arm and steered her in the direction of the exit. She opened her mouth to protest but I silenced her with a “Let’s take this outside.” I followed them to the exit where he sent us on our way. “Seems that we actually have a lot in common; we both got thrown out of Fraser’s Grocery Store by Mr. Fraser himself.” I started walking in the direction of my flat. I could hear her footsteps in the heavy combat boots following me. She grabbed the sleeve of my jersey to hold me back. “I have one condition; you have to clean yourself up before we can start baking.”
I stopped and turned to look at her. “I can do that.”
“When can we start?” she asked.
“As soon as you want to,” I replied.
I rambled off the list of ingredients to her, stunned that I could still remember my favourite recipe by heart. We exchanged addresses and I left her standing on the sidewalk as I made my way back to my room to get cleaned up.
Once back inside the flat I started to shiver. Emotions flooded me. What the hell had just happened? I asked myself. I went out to the store to buy my last meal and now I am on my way to baking it together with another walking dead.
Second thoughts flooded me. This was to be my final day on earth. This was to be my final meal. Suddenly everything changed again. I hate change!
The calm but murky water of my complacency was stirred; my solitude disrupted. If I wanted my familiar setting back I had to go to her apartment, bake the cupcakes and come back to my final meal.
Before I could change my mind I stripped the reeking clothes from my body and stepped into the dingy cubicle of the shower. I had to shampoo my hair, which had been neglected for weeks, three times before it started to feel clean. I washed my body twice to make sure that all odours had been removed.
Clean clothing was in short supply so I selected the cleanest from the dirty laundry pile to put on. Within the hour I was ready to leave for her apartment a few blocks away. As I pulled my wet hair into a ponytail I realised that I had not had a haircut in months and that my shoulder length hair had now grown to reach to my waist.
©Copyright Micelle Coetsee 2014