“Perry, are you even listening to me?” She yelled at her boyfriend, who stared at the table in reply. “You know what? I’ve had enough of this. I’m gone! You’re never going to lose weight for me. You don’t even care – just as long as I keep baking you cakes – that’s all that matters isn’t it!” She slammed the door behind her as she left the house for the last time.
Perry didn’t even look up to watch her go. He’d had enough of her whining anyway – if she didn’t want him at thirty stone, then she didn’t deserve him at twelve stone, that’s for sure. And how could he lose weight when she kept baking him amazing cupcakes? Then it hit him – she would never bake for him again.
He looked to the door, as if she would return to him in that moment, but he knew she was long gone. She really had had enough of him. It’s okay, he thought. I can find better cakes. That bakery on the high street, ‘Boudoir Buns’, does the best cakes in the whole of town, although inconveniently situated right next to the vegan bakery, where the cakes taste like charcoal and grit… (He would never make that mistake again). ‘Boudoir Buns’ made the best cakes money could buy – but they cost a whole lot of money. More money Perry could afford now. It’s okay. I don’t need cake. He laughed, unconvincingly. I can survive without cake. I mean, there’s sausage rolls in the fridge.
The truth was that his girlfriend, now ex-girlfriend, made batches and batches of cake each day and sold her creations online. Perry ate about half of the total batches she made – about twenty batches. He barely ate anything else. And now he would have no batches. No cupcakes, no vanilla icing, no chocolate sponge, no sugar decorations, no jam and cream, no chocolate frosting… The more he thought about what he would not eat again, the more he craved it. His stomach growled for sugary sweetness and chocolate delight. He couldn’t take it anymore. Desperate cravings called for desperate measures.
He pulled open a kitchen drawer and took out a spatula. Although it looked harmless, it could deal a painful blow, as Perry had found out when he tried licking the bowl behind his girlfriend’s back. He slid the spatula down the front of his trousers, concealing it in folds of skin. Even if his shirt was pulled up to inspect, the spatula wouldn’t be seen.
He searched the house for something to cover his face; a balaclava, a mask. The only thing he could find was a huge colander covered with tiny holes to see through. He slipped it over his head and tried to look at himself in the mirror, but he couldn’t see a lot through the holes. He decided not to drive with the colander on his head.
Perry drove his groaning pick up to the high street and parked outside the bakery. He pulled on the colander and reached for the door handle. After a few minutes of fumbling around blindly, he got out the car and walked unsteadily towards the bakery. When he managed to open the door, he quickly identified the direction of the counter. As he walked gingerly towards it, he pulled out the spatula like a sword from the hilt.
He could see, as he approached the till, the woman behind the counter freeze. Her breaths were short and shallow. “No need to panic,” he said, quite nicely. “Just give me some cakes, and nobody gets hurt.” He raised the spatula so she would understand.
“All of them. I want all of them.” He demanded. “Apart from the fruit cake. I don’t want any fruit cake.”
He could see the woman moving about behind the counter but she hadn’t handed him any cakes yet.
“What’s taking you so long?”
“I’m gift-wrapping them.”
“What are you talking – why are you gift-wrapping them?!” He yelled.
“I..” She began to sob. “It’s all part of our customer service.”
“I’m not a customer!” The girl began to cry over the counter. He sighed. “Look, what’s your name?”
“No shit. Tracy, you’re doing a great job, and it’s very thoughtful of you.”
“Yeah?” She whimpered.
“Yes, and if I was a customer, I would definitely recommend you for a promotion -”
“Oh thank you!” She gasped.
“But I’m in a hurry, and I really need you to move faster.”
She took a deep breath and nodded. “So you don’t want gift-wrap?”
“No. Thank you.”
“But I don’t want to squash any of them.”
He tried to keep his voice calm. “It doesn’t matter, I’m just going to eat them anyway. Just chuck them in a bag.”
“But it will ruin the quality of them!” She whined,
“Good god woman!” He cried, raising the spatula in threat.
The girl began crying again but hurried faster.
“Just shove them in a big bag.” He said impatiently. “What have you put in already?”
“Er… victoria sponge, chocolate sponge, chocolate fudge, lemon drizzle, iced fingers, chocolate brownies, cookies, butterfly buns.”
“That’s it?” He asked. “I thought you guys had the best rocky roads here?”
“But our rocky roads have fruit in. You said no fruit cakes.”
“No, I said no fruit ‘cake’. Put rocky roads in the bag.”
“Ok, I’ll put them all in.” He could hear the bag rustling. “Sir, can I ask you a question?”
“Why have you got a colander on your head?”
“To hide my face, Tracy.”
“Why didn’t you just put your hood up?”
He paused. Why hadn’t I just put my hood up? “Are you finished?”
She sniffed and placed the bag in front of him. “Here you go, Sir. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
“No thank you Tracy.” He replied as he felt for the bag. He managed to grab the handles.
“Would you mind sparing a few minutes of your time to take part in a short survey?”
“God no!” He waddled out of the bakery, struggling to open the door for a moment with the bag in one hand and the spatula in the other.
He threw his colander and spatula into the back of the pick up and the bag of cakes on the passenger seat, and drove away without a single look back at the bakery.
His stomach was rumbling more than it had ever rumbled in his life. He pulled a chair at the table with barely enough room to sit his huge stomach in his rush to eat the cakes. He tipped the bag and the horde of sponge and cream fell out in a pile before him. He paused, his eyes huge, to choose the first two cakes. A chocolate brownie in one hand, a victoria sponge in the other, he shoved both in his mouth at once.
He munched down on the cakes, anticipating cool cream, soft sugary sponge, sweet bakery goodness… But the cakes didn’t taste like that. They didn’t taste anything like he expected. They tasted like ash, muck, earthy not sugary. He spat the cakes out, and shovelled chocolate fudge in, but it tasted just as bad.
“No, no…” He moaned, clumps of ashy sponge flying across the mountain of terrible, tasteless, beautiful, mouth-watering cakes. “No, no…” He fumbled around for the bag, turning it over to reveal the bakery logo. Green in colour, with a hopping rabbit leaping over a sunflower: ‘Happy Cakes’.
“No!!” He cried out. The taste in his mouth was terrible – he had to get rid of it. He staggered around the kitchen as if he’d been poisoned. He swung open the cupboards to find they were empty; he pulled out drawers to find only cutlery; he heaved open the fridge with what felt like his last breaths, expecting it to be empty. Expecting to die of terrible vegan cakes poisoning his tastebuds but the fridge wasn’t empty. Lonely on the middle shelf was a pack of sausage rolls. Today Perry was going to live.
He scoffed up those sausage rolls. And they were the best damn sausage rolls he’d ever eaten. And from that day on, haunted by the memory of the vegan bakery robbery and forever associating cakes with the taste of ash, Perry never ate a cake again. He now only eats sausage rolls.