Wednesday, June 3, 2009

White Icing on the Blacktop

It took a small freight truck to really smash the cake. A Jeep had clipped it, most of the cars had managed to get around it without touching it. Not being a jerk, he'd put the modest three-layer construct on the edge of the lane, and sat watching from the hillock just beyond the shoulder on the other side of the country highway.

But he wanted to see it smashed, and now he had. Smashing it himself would seem like cheating, in at least two senses...he hadn't been responsible, not directly, for what happened to her, so why should he take it out completely on his own on the cake. And, of course, actually attacking the cake himself would also seem like an attack on the wedding, an attack on their union, on her. If he had any hostility toward her, it was only the resentment that she was gone...and he couldn't begin to resent her very much, so much as to want to, well, destroy the world. Better, instead, to passively destroy the overpriced cake that, of course, couldn't be returned nor cheerfully disposed with (hey, want some cake that she would've rubbed my face in?).

Like most wedding cake, it wasn't even all that good. It had been pretty. He'd taken a bite of the top layer before solemnly setting it down just inside the white line on Rt. 43 West.

You never really know which airplanes will crash. Nor when. Nor who will be aboard. Nor why you weren't on the flight with her, except for the petty bit of business that would've put him on the redeye the next morning...if it hadn't been moot by 7pm that evening.

Or so he reflected, as he watched a sedan splatter some of the remains of the cake onto the shoulder. He decided he'd watch this for another hour...it'd be dark by then. He had no idea what he'd do then, but it didn't matter much, and probably wouldn't for a while.

(Please see Patti Abbott's blog for other responses to this flash-fiction challenge...to write a vignette of 750 or fewer words featuring a wedding cake in a road.)

15 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Nice one, Todd.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Bill. From my quick sampling, I seem to have nearly if not the only barely CF story (well, littering and leaving obstructions in roadways are petty crimes) wherein the primary actors in the story actually liked each other.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This was the saddest one. Really heartfelt. And I loved that he tasted it first. Great.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Patti. Just call me Cornell Woolrich's glummer, less shrill grandson.

sandra seamans said...

Nicely done, Todd! And such a sad story that rings so true.

r2 said...

Very emotional story. Thanks.

Todd Mason said...

Well, thank you R2 (man of mystery) and Sandra (woman of mystery).

Paul Brazill said...

Nice and sad. I've been reading a book of short stories inspired by Smiths songs and this would fit in very well, I think.

Todd Mason said...

But Paul (to steal a riff from MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000), no one says "Did I mention I cried today?" in the story...thanks!

Cormac Brown said...

Todd,

Very poignant.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Cormac. I think I'll be trying for comic effect next time out, and see if I still remind myself of Woolrich.

K. A. Laity said...

The best is when you can laugh and cry -- I did! A wry laugh, but the juxtaposition works. Yeah, the tasting is an exquisite point -- just enough to skirt pathos. Well done.

Todd Mason said...

But I was Striving for bathos! (Well, no.) Thanks, Kate.

Anonymous said...

Sad? There's not a single real emotion in your riddle of imprecise words.

"Smashing it himself would seem like cheating..." That whole passage is so imprecise, so inaccurate, so off. You are in love with the idea of being a writer. That's your strongest point you have going for you.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks for your courageous input, Anon.