Carmen’s hazelnut cake did not take first place at the bake-off, nor even second place, but that was not the strangest part.
She knew the secret ingredient (ginger) and she used fresh hazelnuts from the tree in Paul and Ruth’s backyard; the batter was fluffy and light and the cake perfectly risen and golden tawny in colour. But the usual Hazelnut Cake won the contest yet again. It was allegedly a blind tasting so Carmen couldn’t cry foul. The second best cake came from Cheryl-Ann something, who squealed like an orgasmic pig when her name was announced.
No, the strange thing was, shortly after she returned home and put the coffee on, she heard her beloved Uncle Matt and Auntie Thomasina knocking shyly at her back door.
She knew it was them before she saw them through the glass panes. Auntie as plump as ever, he with a stern angular face masking a tender heart; in the same homely clothes they’d worn when she last saw them, so long ago, in the church.
She asked if they would like some cake and coffee and they happily agreed, and sat at the kitchen table while Carmen sliced her hazelnut cake and poured hot coffee from the electric percolator on the counter.
Auntie Thomasina and Uncle Matt chatted about their dogs, and the possibility of a thunderstorm, and about the potholes on the road leading to their home, which had lain abandoned for over twenty years.
Uncle Matt still had that exceptionally persistent cowlick in his hair, now grey, at the back of his head, only kept in place by some kind of hair shellac that Auntie Thomasina used to pick up at the pharmacy. He’s too old to worry about cowlicks, she laughed. In response, Uncle Matt took out a small blue velvet box and opened it to reveal an engagement ring, one small diamond in a setting of white gold. Would you do me the honour? he asked Thomasina.
They told Carmen who murdered them. It was their neighbour, Clement, who had been in a dispute with them over an easement. He was a nasty sort, they told Carmen. Was he still alive?
Carmen said she would definitely find out, and refilled their coffee cups.
This cake is delicious, said Uncle Matt. Is there ginger in it?
Perhaps you could bake our wedding cake? said Auntie Thomasina.
Her cake had only taken the white ribbon, but Carmen said: “I would be delighted.”
They didn’t hear her. They were gone.
- Original Prompt: Ghost, August 17, 2016
Reposted with minor edits.
- Cartoons return tomorrow!