Posted in Creative Writing Competition, Prose

Sonnets of Spring Entry #5

[Note: Link to Sonnets of Spring. Entry is on topic #4] Stella and the Cake

-Shashwat Chandra

It all started when Stella heard a scream coming from her kitchen. It was squeaky, and highpitched. The odd thing was, there wasn’t supposed to be anyone in the kitchen, since Aunt Em had gone home for the evening, and Stella lived alone. Unnerved, Stella picked up her trusty purse, held it aloft like a sledgehammer, and stammered out, “Who is it?” “You have to help me! It’s hot in here!” came the same squeaky voice from the kitchen. “Who are you? Why are you in my kitchen?” Stella yelled, puzzled, and a little scared. “I’m the cake. Have you already forgotten about me? I mean, you were *ahem* kneading me just an hour back.” Crap, she thought, I forgot the cake. Wait, the cake? “Cakes can’t speak,” she hollered back into the kitchen. “Well, if we can’t speak, I really don’t know what I’m doing right now.” came the squeaky voice, with a tinge of sarcasm. “Now, can you please get me out of here? It’s getting a little hot.” Stella, bewildered and curious, with raised purse, tip-toed into the kitchen to see nobody in sight. A muttering was coming from the oven, and as she wore the oven mitts and reached for the oven door, the voice spoke up. “Finally! I was starting to blacken around the edges too! You wouldn’t like me like that.” Stella took out the cake, who was still ranting about its close shave with burning, when she interrupted it. “How, how are you speaking? I don’t see a mouth, and I’ve never seen inanimate objects speak before.” The cake stopped and stared — at least it looked like a freshly baked cake staring — and said, “You’re the saviour. Didn’t you know?”

* * *

So, it turns out Stella’s mother forgot to tell her a few important things, before deciding to kick the bucket. (And, by “kick the bucket”, we mean she ran off to participate in the bucket-kicking championship at Oxford.) In a long conversation with a slowly cooling slice of cake (What? Stella was hungry), Stella found out that she was considered the saviour of all inanimate objects. Any “non-living” object in trouble was entitled to call on her aid. Turns out this ability has been in her family for generations. Via her fathers’ side. That probably explained what her mother told her about her father — “He objectified everyone.” Also, Stella realized that inanimate objects could speak and express their emotions to her (take that, Vegetarians! Now who’s eating beings that can express themselves? We both are, that’s who!). That’s really not a nice place for a young girl to find herself. Stella, a young girl of eighteen — barely into adulthood, was a good person at heart, and if someone wanted her help, he/she could expect Stella to come over and help. However, Stella didn’t really expect herself to end up at the beck and call of every dorm, stick, and carry-bag.

* * *

The worst thing was that there was never anywhere to hide. She didn’t know how or when, but details of how she looked, what she wore, and where she was, always reached the damn things in distress (the how involved some intimate pieces of clothing in Stella’s possession, but we won’t tell her if you won’t). And once they sensed that she was nearby, they always let out that ear-splitting shriek to get her attention. It was exasperating. Stella had just returned from a gruelling rescue mission involving a desk drawer and an excessively naughty toddler. It was an embarrassing tale, and Stella still had traces of shaving cream on her dress. She tossed the drawer handle to a faint “Thanks”, and collapsed on the couch. Stella wanted a well-deserved rest. A piercing scream came from the whereabouts of the dresser. Stella groaned. “Aunt Em, what are you doing?” “Nothing dear, just doing my knitting. Why? Are you hungry, love? I bet I can cook up something lovely for you.” came a thin, reedy voice from the guest bedroom. Aunt Em had lived with her ever since her mother left, and had been like a second mother for her. She wasn’t really the sharpest crayon in the box, but she was generally kind. When Stella told Aunt Em what she was going through, her distracted response was, “That’s nice dear. I talk to non-living things too. Helps me concentrate on my work. Isn’t that right, Mr. Pen?” The high-pitched voice of what Stella identified as the knitted cloth continued, “It isn’t that she’s poking me with sharp needles all the time. She’s doing it wrong! It’s over and under, not under and across.” “Aunt Em, I think you made a mistake in your knitting.” “What was that dear? My goodness, you’re right! How ever did you know?” A surprised Aunt Em put her head through the doorway, looking enquiringly at Stella. “You always get it wrong, Aunt Em. It was just a fair guess.” That seemed to have satisfied Aunt Em, because she went back into the room, muttering something that sounded like, “Oh dear. I should pay more attention to this.” “Now she’s opening me up and playing with my entrails! You sadistic witch!” “Language!” “What, dear?” “Nothing, Aunt Em.”

* * *

It had taken a lot of explaining, but Stella finally convinced the objects to approach her in a systematic manner. Stella’s woollen cloak (the same one Aunt Em was knitting) would receive requests from the various ‘clients’ (for want of a better word), and sort them based on priority. Stella would then dedicate any free time she had to helping out the clients, and they would leave her in peace the rest of the time. This is how Stella found herself at half-past nine, on a deserted road, under a lamp-post that had asked for her help, waiting for it to speak and tell her of its worries. Stella stood by the lamp post, smoking. She wore white with red shoes, which fitted his expectations, although in a troubled moment he had imagined the dress red, and only the shoes white. She waited uneasily and shyly … He pictured, in her, his own redemption.


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