BLACK VELVET AND CUPCAKES
The skinny girls flat reflected her dark, brooding personality. I did not waste time to speculate on that but made my way directly to the well-equipped black and white kitchen. The ingredients and all the necessary utensils were already laid out on the marble kitchen top. I was in awe. In the midst of unexpected change in my life I felt a measure of familiarity creep into the moment. I ran my hand over mixing bowls, wooden spoons and measuring cups. It was months since I had last set my eyes on any of these and I hadn’t had any hope of ever doing so again. A state of the art stainless steel mixer was sitting on the corner of the table, waiting to be used. My eyes scanned the kitchen for the oven and found an eye level oven tucked into the one corner. I set the oven to preheat.
By this time I was lost in a world of my own. I became oblivious to the girls presence somewhere in a dark crevice of the modern kitchen.
I placed a small pot with water on the stove to boil. I broke pieces of dark chocolate into a glass bowl on top of the pot, allowing the chocolate to melt over the water. Using a wooden spoon I stirred the dark bits into silky smoothness and then removed it from the heat to cool down.
With appreciative hands I assembled the fixtures to the mixer. With a slight tremor of excitement in my fingers I measured the butter and sugar into the mixing bowl. Setting the mixer on a low speed I mixed the butter and sugar together until it was pale and fluffy. I then proceeded, one by one, to add eggs to the mixture. While these were mixing I measured out flour and dark cocoa powder. Removing the bowl from the mixer I folded the flour and cocoa mix into the batter. Finally I added the melted chocolate and my secret ingredient – a dash of chocolate liqueur.
Goth girl had bought the most amazing star studded black cupcake cases. I lined the muffin pan with these; scooped the batter into the little black cups and placed the pan into the oven to bake for twenty minutes. While the cakes where in the oven, I made the sour cream and chocolate ganache for the topping. I put it to one side to set.
A black coffee mug was thrust into my hand. The aroma of Brazilian roasted beans tickled my nostrils and urged me to take a sip of the freshly brewed coffee.
“You know what you are doing,” Goth girl remarked, her skinny body draped over a kitchen counter, from where she kept vigil over me baking.
“It used to be my passion,” I mumbled.
“What? Cupcakes or baking?”
“What happened that you lost your passion?” she wanted to know.
A frown was etched between her black eyebrows but she did not comment on my remark; she waited for me to elaborate. I didn’t.
After a few moments of silence she added, “Oh,” and that closed the conversation on the topic. In silence we sipped our coffee and sneaked little peeks at the cakes through the oven window.
After twenty minutes I removed the baking tray from the oven and displayed my handiwork to her. She was elated at the results. We placed the tray onto a cooling rack to allow the cakes to cool down.
“You will have to attend the party tonight.”
“You cannot bake these wonderful cakes and then not join the party.” She sounded confused that I did not understand this very basic concept: you bake; you attend.
“I have a dress that you can borrow.” Gliding her eyes over my frame she remarked, “You remind me of Morticia of the Addams family. We’ll have to do something about your hair though.” Reflexively I reached out my hand and touched my tied back hair. “What about my hair?” I wanted to know.
“You’ve got beautiful hair. We just need to cover up the grey a bit.”
“Must be because of your death; there are quite a few grey streaks.” She gave a little giggle.
“Come on, follow me,” she ordered me. I didn’t want to leave the kitchen. I wanted to keep an eye on the beautiful dark beauties that were sitting on the counter top. Following the direction of my eyes, she quipped, “They will go nowhere.”
She took my hand and led me to her bedroom. I followed her reluctantly. I had suffered too much change for one day already. I wanted to remain in the familiar warmth and comfort of the kitchen.
She took a black velvet evening dress from her cupboard and handed it to me. “Try this on.” Another order from the pale girl.
“I don’t think this will fit me,” I protested.
“Sure it will,” she insisted.
“We are not nearly the same size,” I tried again.
“When last did you have a good look at yourself? God, your skinny! Death does become you.” She firmly pushed me towards the bathroom. “Put on the dress.”
I relented, thinking that I would go into the bathroom and pretend to try on the dress, claim that it doesn’t fit and decline the offer for attending the party. A full length mirror covered the wall of the bathroom and as I entered the room I caught a glimpse of myself. I stopped dead in my tracks. It was 2418 days and 8 hours since my divorce and just as many days since I had last seen myself full length in a mirror. I didn’t recognise the woman in the reflective glass. My once lean body had turned into a bony sack clothed in frumpy cloths. The sun kissed glow on my skin from spending my days outside on the farm had been replaced by a pasty, grey pallor. Dark half-moons cowered underneath my eyes. I was appalled at what I had become. Tears streaked down my face. Angrily I swiped at them with the back of my hand. Turning my back towards the mirror I stripped of my own rumpled clothes and tried the black dress on. It fitted me like a glove. The luxurious texture of the fabric against my skin stirred my nerve ends to life. I pulled the hairband from my hair and allowed it to tumble freely down my back. I turned back towards the mirror and was surprised by the immediate transformation. The elegant cut of the dress complemented my now much slimmer body and hugged my hips snugly. The low cut neckline showed a glimpse of my cleavage and the milky white swell of the top of my breasts. The contrast between the paleness of my skin and the black velvet was striking. My dark hair cascaded in soft tendrils down my back.
The bathroom door opened and Goth girl’s face peered at me in the mirror. “Wow, you are gorgeous!” she beamed at me. “I have the perfect pair of shoes to go with the dress.” She disappeared from sight only to reappear a few seconds later, presenting me with a pair of blood red, high heeled shoes. “They are Iron Fist’s,” she proudly declared.
“I don’t wear heels,” I declined her offer.
“Neither do you wear black velvet evening dresses, but tonight you are Morticia Addams and she does wear black velvet and heels.” She placed the shoes in front of me, urging me to remove the fake leather clogs from my feet. I slipped my feet out of the old shoes and into the red heels. “I can’t walk in heels,” I protested once again. “You won’t be walking, just lounging in my living room, making small talk with handsome men.” Slipping a robe from the back of the door, she handed it to me. “Take off the dress and put this on. Let’s do your hair and make-up.” For such a skinny waif of a girl, she was very bossy.
I followed her back to the bedroom where we spent the next hour in front of the vanity mirror. She tucked into my overgrown eyebrows and plucked them back into shape. “Your skin is so beautifully pale I don’t even need to tone it down with foundation,” she murmured while she covered the dark circles underneath my eyes with concealer. She dusted my eyelids with a carbon coloured eyeshade and traced my eyes with black kohl. She applied a double layer of midnight black mascara to my eyelashes. Finally she finished off my Morticia look by lining my lips with blood red lipliner and filling it in with a deep red glossy lipstick. She stood back to admire her handiwork. “Stunning, Morticia, you are absolutely stunning,” she praised the results. I looked past her into the mirror to see Morticia looking back at me.
With an exclamation she brought us both back to reality, “Shit! What time is it? We have to finish up the cupcakes and set the table. Come on, help me do this.” Grabbing me by the hand she pulled me to the kitchen. We were like two teenagers preparing for our first party. With a lot of giggles and joking around we finally had everything together and in place, ready to receive the guests from the Fornever club.
With twenty minutes to spare before she expected her guests to arrive, she rushed off to her room to get dressed. I went into the bathroom to put on the black dress and the red heels. I looked at myself in the mirror and was astounded by all that had transpired in the day. I had started the day out planning my own farewell from this life and only hours later I was looking at a different person, one that was living again.
“Martha had died. Morticia is here to stay. Welcome Morty…” I whispered to myself.
* * * * *
I introduced myself as Morty to Goth girl’s friends. I drank deep red wine from an elegant glass while I lounged seductively on her couch. I laughed a lot. I talked a lot. I listened even more. I dared to live again.
This was a group of people I would otherwise never have met. This was a social setting unfamiliar and unknown to me. The red wine and adrenaline was a heady cocktail that gave me the courage to dare even more, to venture into territory previously steered clear from. The music in the background was unfamiliar to me and the topics of conversation outside of my paradigm. This was Morty’s world and I wanted to get to know it intimately.
I asked questions and listened intently, assimilating new sounds, experiences and concepts. Martha loved the familiar and the known; Morty lived for the exhilaration of exploring the new and unfamiliar. I moved between all of the guests, touching, talking, laughing, exploring, finding, enjoying. It was an extraordinary way to come back into this world. I feared for the stroke of midnight. But unlike Cinderella, Morticia’s dream did not end at midnight, it only started then.
At five minutes to midnight I sauntered over to the food table to refill my wineglass. A Gomez look alike was already there. I held my glass to him, asking him to fill it for me. He took my glass and filled it with the red wine. My hand found one of the decadent chocolate cupcakes. Sensually I peeled the paper cup from the cake. When he handed my glass back to me I offered the chocolate delight to him. Instead of taking it from me, he took my hand holding the cake and brought it to his mouth. His white teeth bit into the dark sponge while looking deeply into my eyes. With small appreciative moans he made his delight known. “I can taste the passion of the baker,” he mused. “That would be me,” I smiled. “I know,” he grinned. He didn’t let go of my hand but proceeded to eat the whole cake from my hand and then licked the remains of the topping from my fingers. Martha would never find herself in this position; Morty marvelled at the sensual experience. With my fingers still against his lips, he whispered, “I have a catering business, catering for themed parties. I am in desperate need of a baker that is passionate, skilled and creative. Know such a person?” A vortex opened underneath my feet and I felt the last remainder of Martha being sucked down into the empty void. Morty leaned closer to Gomez and whispered, “When do I start?”
His free hand slipped inside his jacket pocket to pull out his business card. He placed the card in the palm of my hand where he had moments before placed a gentle kiss. “See you in eight hours.”
At the stroke of midnight the cupcake in my hand had turned into a new business opportunity and a new life.
Morty threw back her beautiful head and laughed deep from her throat. Life was beautiful.
©Copyright Micelle Coetsee 2014