Penny must have made this cake a thousand times. It was her grandma’s recipe. Baking had always been her go to activity when she felt stressed. When she and Mark were going through a rough patch, Penny once baked enough cakes to feed an army. They were offered up to all the neighbours so they wouldn’t go to waste.
Sadly, these days, attempting to bake only caused her further distress as she consistently struggled to remember the steps involved in the recipe. She was well aware that Chloe had been carrying her at work, and this made her feel like a great burden.
She had been getting customers regular coffee orders wrong, forgetting to order much needed stock, completely stuffing up the staff roster, and forgetting important things like appointments, and Sally’s rehearsal schedule.
It was her grandma’s famous fluffy sponge cake with lemon and lime frosting. Penny remembered coming home from school to find a freshly baked cake waiting for her and Hamish. Why can I clearly remember coming home from school all those years ago like it was only yesterday, yet I can’t for the life of me, remember if I have already added the sugar?
Penny wondered if she would ever be able to realise her dream of writing and publishing a cook book, if she could no longer seem to complete the simple task of baking a cake.
She hoped that she had included all the required ingredients as she turned on the electric mixer.
Once she had placed the cake in the oven, she pulled out her old notebook containing years of family recipes, handed down from generation to generation. As she began to flick through the pages, the words seemed to become jumbled, and she found herself having to re-read each step, over and over again, in order for it to make any sense.
She counted the recipes. There were over one hundred scribbled in the notebook. Despite all her current sadness, a faint smile edged its way across her face, as she reminisced about learning to bake with her grandma as a child. Precious memories of begging to lick the wooden spoon and climbing up onto a chair to reach the kitchen bench came flooding back.
Buddy came bounding in with his ball clenched between his teeth, ready to play. Penny wasn’t in the mood, and poor Buddy sensed she wasn’t herself, reluctantly retreating back to his bed to sulk.
Penny felt for poor Buddy, but she was too busy wallowing in self-pity to care. She gathered up the loose bits of paper that had fallen out of the notebook just as the smoke alarm began to emit an ear piercing beeping noise throughout the house.
Thick smoke was starting to billow from the oven. Shit, I forgot about the blasted cake. Penny turned off the oven, threw the notebook across the room in sheer frustration, sending Buddy running for his life, and lowered herself to the floor in defeat. She raised her knees up to her chest, hugging herself tight and began to sob.
Buddy reappeared from around the doorway and gingerly made his way towards her. He laid his head on Penny’s feet and looked up at her with sympathetic big brown eyes.
A text message popped up on her phone from Hamish. She ignored it. Right now, all she wanted to do was shut out the world. An overwhelming world that was unfamiliar to her since her diagnosis.
Unpublished Work (c) Hayley Walsh 2020