Salome Magazine
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LAce Posted Monday, September 24th, 2007
Sugar Roses
Nancy Corbett

Jayne had learned from experience that she had to be extremely careful
with pink. The pink was too pale, but that was okay. Her mother had
always told her that you could always add more food coloring, but you
could never take it away.

“But, Mommy,” she had asked, “If it gets too dark, why can’t you just
add more white frosting?”

Jayne smiled as she remembered her mother’s flummoxed expression. Why
not, indeed. She added a drop of red food coloring and stirred it in
vigorously. If the pink was too dark, the roses would be chalky, like
hard little nipples dotting the surface of the cake.

The cake was for the quarterly birthday potluck at Wooten Engineering.
Jayne fretted over it the way so many women fret over themselves when
standing in front of a mirror. Just writing Happy Birthday would seem
generic, like something she had picked up at the supermarket on the way to the
office. She wanted people to know that she had decorated the cake
herself. But she wasn’t sure of who all the birthday people were. To
leave someone out would be an unforgivable mistake. She filled the
writing tube with hopeful blue frosting and glanced repeatedly at the
white sheet cake as if it would tell her what letters to squeeze onto
its surface. She wished her mother were still alive.

She finally settled on Happy Birthday Wooteners and went to bed at 1:30,
knowing that her cake befitted the occasion.

The potluck table was wide and lavish. Jayne was pleased to see that
only a couple of other people brought deserts. She put her cake in the
center of the desert section and backed up to the wall. Most people
didn’t notice the cake, but she always remembered those who did. At the
last potluck, six people had paused over her cake and said something to
the person next to them about how the cake was so pretty. So pretty. She
smiled at the memory, and her hand flew to her hot cheek.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Sharon Hurlbut on Tuesday, September 25th, 2007 at 4:27 PM
This is lovely and poignant, Nancy!

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