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Give the boy a cake

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     Anise was baking a cake; not just any cake.

     A special cake for a special boy on his special day— not his birthday, because that technically wasn’t just his special day—but rather a regular Thursday in December. Cipher had recently been offered a role all his own: a handsome college student in what he was assured would be the ‘rom-com of the year’. The director was fairly reputable and Anise knew he had high hopes.

     He deserved to celebrate—Anise had told him this, meaning that Cipher should take a day off and mess around with her some—but Cipher being Cipher missed the hint and asked for a cake instead.

     But not just any cake.

     Oh no. That would be too easy.

     Cipher asked for Bailey’s Cake Mix™ which had been recently discontinued and Anise would have to special order by mail, and wait weeks for it to arrive.

     Anise had, because Cipher was worth it, and he really had been working hard preparing for that audition. Maybe imagining his happy surprised face when he heard that Anise went so out of her way to bake it for him helped a little too.

     I’m the whole package, Anise had thought proudly, standing in Cipher and Siva’s kitchen with her Bailey’s Cake Mix™.

     That was before she fucked it up.

     The Bailey’s Cake Mix™ box sat on the kitchen floor, mocking her. It had taken Anise a truly embarrassing amount of time to get it open. The cardboard of the box was strong—way too strong for cake mix anyway—but Anise figured that was just the Bailey’s™ way.

     In actuality, the cardboard wasn’t actually that strong, and had a line to follow where you could tear it open easily—but Anise didn’t notice this and opted to rip the whole box open at a strange jagged angle.

     It was this decision that damned her.

     She now sat on the kitchen floor with a magnifying glass in her hand, trying helplessly to read the cooking instructions on the back of the box that had been so thoroughly destroyed by her impulse decision.

     “Pre-heat to what Bailey’s™? Preheat to WHAT?” she asked, shaking the box a little— this unfortunately sent some mix up her nose which led to a sneeze, which led to the box on the ground and the loss of more cake mix.

     Anise looked at the fallen box and the cake mix lining the floor and felt something like a scream bubble in her throat. Ginger stared up at her with cold, soulless eyes— well, rather a single cold, soulless eye, as Ginger’s left eye had fallen victim to Anise’s enthusiastic package opening.

     “How’s it going Anise?” Cipher asked, bopping into the kitchen like he owned the place, which, technically he did, but Anise was not in the mood for technicalities.

     “Get out Cipher!” she shouted, quickly stepping in front of the spilled Bailey’s™ mix so he couldn’t see.

     “Whoa!” Cipher replied, raising his hands in the air. “I was just checking on my cake.”

     “No peeking!” She announced firmly, carefully adding a little more kindness into her voice as she pushed both her hands against his chest and shoved him out the door.

     “Can I actually have a glass of water that’s actually of what I came here fo—”

     “No water!” Anise barked, and Cipher raised both of his eyebrows, slowly shutting the door.

     The kitchen was silent once more. Anise looked at the battered Bailey’s™ box, half the mix on the floor, half in the box. She sighed, picking it up. After a couple clandestine glances behind her, she swept the floor mix back into the package.

     “It’ll…bake out…?”

     A knock at the door. Siva, definitely. Cipher never knocked.

     “Everything alright?” he asked. Anise held the destroyed box to her chest.

     “Siva, get in here.”

     From the living room, she could hear Cipher make an offended noise.

     “He knocked!” Anise called out.

     “I did knock,” Siva confirmed, opening the door, voice just a hair too smug.

     “This is our house!”

     Siva shut the door.

     “What’s the problem, Anise?”

     “This. Embarrassingly.” Anise held out the box.

     Siva blinked a few times, reluctantly taking the box in his right hand. He switched it to his left and wiped a hand on his pants.

     “Wow, you really did a number on it. Poor Ginger.”

     “…Yeah, I know.” Anise ducked her head. “I ruined the instructions too. Oh, Siva what do I do?”

     “Well…” Siva poured the contents of the box into a bowl. “It can’t be that complicated, can it? It’s cake mix, so they’ve done most of the work already.”

     “Right…” Anise nodded. “I just have to add water. And eggs. I can estimate that. Probably. ”

     “Probably.” Siva confirmed, looking at the bowl now filled with mix like something might spring out of it at any moment. “Need help?”

     Anise shook her head, running her fingers through her short hair.

     “No, no. I made my bed— I should sleep in it. But.”

     She hurried over to the sink, filling a glass with water. “Give this to Cipher, would you?” 


 

     In the end the cake was less of a cake and more of a spongy tasteless mass. The frosting helped it, aesthetically, but there was really no salvaging what was underneath.

     Anise set it on the table anyway, trying to smile through all the nervous shame boiling in her stomach. Siva cut them all pieces, and Cipher and laughed and grinned like usual—always happy to be served.

     As soon as the knife went into the cake, there was an unfortunate squelching noise. Cipher didn’t notice, but Siva’s eyes went to Anise immediately. She paled. Siva set the first piece of cake on a plate and to her surprise…winked.

     “You know, I’m surprised the cake looks this good, Anise!” Siva said, smiling and Anise immediately wondered where to hide his body.

     “Doesn’t just look good, it looks great!” Cipher chirped, biting into the cake without hesitation.

     His smile faded and Anise felt her soul leave her.

     “Oh no.”

     Without hesitation, Cipher picked up another forkful, smiling the same smile as before. “Hey Jake, you have to eat this!”

     “Huh?” Siva opened his mouth and Cipher fed him.

     Siva made a face like something died, but forced himself to swallow. “Why would you make me eat that!?”

     “Hey! Don’t be mean to Anise. She worked hard!” Cipher grinned, leaning back in his chair. Anise was fairly certain her entire face was well on its way to scarlet by now.

     Siva sighed. “I was worried about this.”

     I’m sorry, was on the tip of Anise’s tongue, but Siva continued.

     “I thought this might happen. You used…” Siva’s voice lowered, sinister and secretive. “Bailey’s Cake Mix™, right?”

     Anise blinked. What was he getting at? “Yeah, I mail ordered it.”

     “Oh, really? This is Bailey’s™?” Cipher looked at the cake that was now collapsing in on itself. A vague bubbling sound was coming from underneath the frosting. “Why is it like this then?”

     Siva nodded grimly. “Bailey’s Cake Mix™ had a great advertising company, but the cakes that it made have a secret reputation for being absolutely awful. Why do you think it was discontinued?”

     Anise had to fight the urge to tackle Siva, the genius. Cipher bought it immediately.

     “I had no idea! Did you Anise?”

     “No, of course not! I wanted to get you a nice cake.”

     Cipher smiled at her, a goofy grin. “I do like cake.”

     “Unfortunate that it happened this way,” Siva frowned. “Bailey’s™ is just a real crook. Anise didn’t do anything wrong.”

     “Of course she didn’t. That explains why you were so upset earlier, huh?” Cipher shook his head and Anise nodded in a ‘well you know’ kind of way.

     Cipher looked at her, eyes soft.

     “Doesn’t matter. I’ll eat the whole thing!”

     Anise and Siva both paled.

     “You’ll die,” Siva said.

     “Hey!” Anise elbowed him, hard. Cipher laughed, picking up his fork.

     He did not eat the whole cake, but he definitely tried. They never bought Bailey’s Cake Mix™ again.