Short Fiction: The Wedding Cake

Gabriel Bernard opened the front door of his shop with the same pride and gratefulness he felt the first time he opened it fourteen years ago. Since that day, his skill had become famous; so too had his Christian faith. Everyone in the community knew that six days a week Gabriel could be found in his store, wielding his creative magic to fashion the delightful treats that attracted sweet tooths from far and wide. On the seventh day, of course, he could be found practicing his faith in the Third Street Wesleyan Church (not to be confused with the Third Street Church of St Wesley, headquarters of a harmless cult worshiping prolific 1990s action movie star Wesley Snipes).

Gabriel set out his sandwich board on the footpath, taking time to ensure it was perfectly aligned to entice the most possible passersby. He looked fondly upon the short, comical poem displayed on each side of the board. People would often stop to read that rhyme. Gabriel assumed its popularity was due to the quality of its content, but really it was the elaborate chalk calligraphy that drew the eye. The prose itself was childish, and overloaded with puns.

Two early birds stepped into the store while Gabriel was putting the finishing touches on his display case. Leaning into the case to attach a price ticket, he heard the customer bell chime, but didn’t see who had entered. “We’re getting married,” a voice announced defiantly.

“Well, congratulations!” said Gabriel. He smiled and popped up from behind the counter exactly as he would have had he been a Muppet.

Upon seeing the soon to be wed couple—comprised of two males—he recoiled in disgust. The customers regarded this as proof of the homophobia they had anticipated from a man who opposed same-sex marriage. It was actually an unfortunate involuntary reaction by Gabriel to the lime green turtleneck skivvy one of the customers was wearing.

“That’s right,” said the customer in the skivvy. “We’re getting married, and we want a cake for our wedding—a cake with two grooms on top.”

Gabriel had feared something like this would happen sooner or later. When you nail your colours to the mast, you can expect someone will try to sink your ship.

‘Well?” said the less brightly dressed customer. “Is that going to be a problem?”

To refuse to bake the cake would bring backlash and lawsuits that Gabriel’s small business could not survive; to bake the cake would mean going against his convictions.

“It appears we’re not welcome here, Bill,” said the customer in green.

“Wait,” said Gabriel. He thought of his wife and daughter, and how he had promised to always provide for them. “I’ll do it. I’ll bake the cake.”

The customers were happy enough.

Gabriel was in the fridge magnet business. His specialty was magnets in the shape of desserts—ice cream cones, lollipops, cakes, and pies—all colourful and capable of pinning an electricity bill to a refrigerator. He had never baked in his life, so it was strange that anyone should demand an actual, edible cake from him. Nevertheless, he baked it. It was overcooked, and made with so many eggs it could have been classified as an omelette. He achieved a unique “icing” effect by placing four chocolate bars on top of the cake and melting them under a grill. A drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of brown sugar and the dish was complete. Gabriel purchased two groom figurines from the agnostic bakery next door and fixed them to the top of the cake.

From all reports the wedding was a grand affair, enjoyed by all in attendance. Gabriel’s cake was a notable absentee from the reception; the happy couple never picked it up; they forgot they’d even ordered it. But, it was baked, and that was the main thing.

© 2018 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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