I have this hankering to bake a cake. To make a cake. I don’t have all the paraphernalia, not anymore. I’ll have to buy a cake tin, a baking tray, icing sugar and greaseproof paper. I think about the stages involved, the mixing, the cutting out of rounds of paper, heating the oven, peeling off the paper, placing the cake on a wire tray to cool and the smell. Is that why I want to do it? For the smell. The cosiness of hot sweetness permeating the flat. I won’t eat it. He may, though ideally he shouldn’t. What will I do with it? Take it to work as the other women do? Leaving the tin opened. Go on, help yourself. The men eating it between typing, not worrying about hips or tummies. One piece left out of politeness. Oh, I couldn’t, I’m stuffed. Or I could divide it into pieces and leave it at various places around town where the homeless sleep. A gift. Will they want it? Does anybody want my gifts? Something from home, a gift from the kitchen. Do you remember? Those Friday nights. Those dark November Friday nights. Me sleeping in your car on the way home. I want to make it, as I want to make so many things. A full life, a layered life. A domestic life. She makes one every Friday. I like that. I’d imagined a big family, a full house, and baking. There is no need now. We live quietly, just the two of us. I could take one to her, as gift. But I don’t know what she likes. She said she’d like me to make her a cake. Is that where this has come from? We were still there this time last week. The day after my birthday. How time passes. She hasn’t left the house. Housebound and anxious. Has she changed that much? She was always fretful, as was I. All that sun. Glorious. I miss that. But today looks good. The sky is big, the clouds softly pink.
She stopped me. Called out to me. Her car had gone flat. She needed help to push it. I couldn’t say no. She was in what looked like huge-spotted pyjama bottoms, almost a clown outfit. There was a Canadian flag flying from the aerial. It’s not a heavy car, she said, as I got behind it. We tried it twice, nothing. There is no hill on the Prom. I ran over to two lads walking past the Bandstand. Can you help jump start the car? I asked pointing at it. Jump start? one of them asked, you’ll need jump leads for that. I should’ve said bump not jump and felt suddenly silly and ignorant. It throws me, encountering my not knowing. And there is so much I don’t know. Ah, it is scary, having to go out into the world with one’s uncertainty. Should I write that book, I’m half way through? Is it crap? What will they think of me on the course? So scared of being judged. Ah, find your courage, Ellen. Even with the boys help, both of which reeked of booze, the car refused to start. Sorry, I said. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. The lads, it seemed were more determined and began to push from the front. Oh, the girl said, we’re going backwards. I left them too it. I wanted to walk – to be in silence with my thoughts. Sorry.
Later walking down Great Darkgate St I noticed a pair of lovers outside White Stuff. She was a tiny thing with long curly hair, he was taller and sported a white baseball cap worn backwards. As I got nearer I realised that they were arguing. How can I be expected to believe you care for me, she was shouting, if you walk away from me? I was sorry for her, for them. Their rancour hung heavy in the air. The town was teaming with drunk freshers. The Pelican Bakery didn’t disappoint, lovely odours of baking bread hitting my nostrils way before I crossed the road. The usual pony-tailed woman wasn’t in there as I peered through the window, it was a man in a grey t-shirt.
I want to finish it, soon. I have just over two weeks. Why does it make me a little nervous? I want it to be lovely for her. My gift, to them both. I fills in for all the silence, all that space between us. Wanting to know them, to cherish them, to hold them dear. My loves.