The White Ribbon [Repost]

Prompt: Halloweeny

YPE_001
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!
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Snapdragons [Repost]

Prompt: Unexpected Guests (Repost)

sad dog

After coming home from a visit to the doctor, I approached my front door, key in hand, and noticed that my neighbour’s dog was peeing on my rhododendrons. He stopped, lowered his leg, and gazed at me mournfully. He was always escaping from my neighbour’s yard, and always came to pee on my plants when he did.

I entered the house. It felt cold, and I heard voices. Who else had the key to the house? Only my son, who now lived in Hamburg. I had talked to him on Skype early this morning. I heard a woman’s laugh, and it gave me the courage to move from the hall to the living room, where I encountered a man and a woman.

They were sitting close together on the couch, giggling and nudging each other, as they ate hazelnut cake. They were rather sloppy eaters, and crumbs made a path down the front of their clothes, and littered the carpet. They looked up at me and smiled silently, their mouths full.

“What is going on?” I asked. I didn’t raise my voice, despite the fact that I felt I needed an answer to the question immediately.

“We heard about the bake sale,” the man said at last.

“We heard about your cake,” said the woman simultaneously.

“The bake sale is on Tuesday. In the church basement,” I said.

“It’s delicious,” said the man. “By the way, I’m Trevor, and this is my wife, Nancy.”

I took a few steps and glanced into the kitchen, where I noticed two things: the deadbolt on the door to the garden, which was the only other entrance to the house, was still turned and locked; and the counter beside the stove was clear.

I returned to my guests and said, “How did you get in?”

“Oh,” said Trevor, and a shadow of a frown crossed his face. “The laundry room window. The thing is, when we broke the handle, we must have left a sharp edge.” He set the napkin which held the remains of the hazelnut cake on the coffee table. He stretched his left leg out and pointed to a snag in his pants. “I seem to have damaged my trousers.” He and his wife bent over the small tear with great concern. Nancy rubbed his upper arm consolingly.

“I baked four hazelnut cakes,” I said. “Don’t tell me you ate all of them.”

Nancy laughed again. “Oh heavens no. You just missed Ruth and Paul. They were most impressed.”

Trevor took his wallet out of his pants’ pocket and took out a silver toothpick, with which he delicately sought the remains of the hazelnuts stuck in his teeth.

“So you each ate a whole cake?”

“My goodness, of course we did not!” Trevor said, putting the toothpick in his pocket. “That would be piggish. The twins ate most of it.”

“The twins.”

“Yes, they would still be here, they so wanted to meet you, but Eric had to catch a plane. And you know the twins, where one goes the other follows. They are inseparable.”

“Literally,” said Nancy.

I felt a headache coming on. I went to the cupboard and took out a book. I put it in my bag. Then I went to the front door, opened it, and went outside. I closed the door behind me.

My car was parked at the curb. I went to it and started the engine. As I did so, the dog, who had been rooting around among the snapdragons, galloped like a horse to the car. I leaned over and opened the passenger door, and he jumped in.

We drove away.


  • Originally published December 15, 2015
  • Today’s prompt: Meddle

The White Ribbon

Prompt: Ghost

hazelnuts noisette
Carmen Toulouse-Alspice’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, 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. The usual Hazelnut Cake won the contest again, and it was allegedly a blind tasting so Carmen couldn’t cry foul. And the second best cake came from some country woman who squealed like an orgasmic pig when her name was announced. Cheryl-Ann something.

No, the thing was, when she had the two cakes side by side on her kitchen counter, having bought one of The Hazelnut Cakes from the small booth on the boulevard, and tasted both of them, one after the other, 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.

She asked if they would like some cake and coffee, and they happily agreed, and sat at the kitchen table while Carmen sliced from her own 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 picked 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 Toulouse Allspice said: “I would be delighted.” They didn’t hear her. They were gone.

Snapdragons

Prompt: Unexpected Guests
You walk into your home to find a couple you don’t know sitting in your living room, eating a slice of cake. Tell us what happens next.

sad dog

After coming home from a visit to the doctor, I approached my front door, key in hand, and noticed that my neighbour’s dog was peeing on my rhododendrons. He stopped, lowered his leg, and gazed at me mournfully. He was always escaping from my neighbour’s yard, and always came to pee on my plants when he did.

I entered the house. It felt cold, and I heard voices. Who else had the key to the house? Only my son, who now lived in Hamburg. I had talked to him on Skype early this morning. I heard a woman’s laugh, and it gave me the courage to move from the hall to the living room, where I encountered a man and a woman.

They were sitting close together on the couch, giggling and nudging each other, as they ate hazelnut cake. They were rather sloppy eaters, and crumbs made a path down the front of their clothes, and littered the carpet. They looked up at me and smiled silently, their mouths full.

“What is going on?” I asked. I didn’t raise my voice, despite the fact that I felt I needed an answer to the question immediately.

“We heard about the bake sale,” the man said at last.

“We heard about your cake,” said the woman simultaneously.

“The bake sale is on Tuesday. In the church basement,” I said.

“It’s delicious,” said the man. “By the way, I’m Trevor, and this is my wife, Nancy.”

I took a few steps and glanced into the kitchen, where I noticed two things: the deadbolt on the door to the garden, which was the only other entrance to the house, was still turned and locked; and the counter beside the stove was clear.

I returned to my guests and said, “How did you get in?”

“Oh,” said Trevor, and a shadow of a frown crossed his face. “The laundry room window. The thing is, when we broke the handle, we must have left a sharp edge.” He set the napkin which held the remains of the hazelnut cake on the coffee table. He stretched his left leg out and pointed to a snag in his pants. “I seem to have damaged my trousers.” He and his wife bent over the small tear with great concern. Nancy rubbed his upper arm consolingly.

“I baked four hazelnut cakes,” I said. “Don’t tell me you ate all of them.”

Nancy laughed again. “Oh heavens no. You just missed Ruth and Paul. They were most impressed.”

Trevor took his wallet out of his pants’ pocket and took out a silver toothpick, with which he delicately sought the remains of the hazelnuts stuck in his teeth.

“So you each ate a whole cake?”

“My goodness, of course we did not!” Trevor said, putting the toothpick in his pocket. “That would be piggish. The twins ate most of it.”

“The twins.”

“Yes, they would still be here, they so wanted to meet you, but Eric had to catch a plane. And you know the twins, where one goes the other follows. They are inseparable.”

“Literally,” said Nancy.

I felt a headache coming on. I went to the cupboard and took out a book. I put it in my bag. Then I went to the front door, opened it, and went outside. I closed the door behind me.

My car was parked at the curb. I went to it and started the engine. As I did so, the dog, who had been rooting around among the snapdragons, galloped like a horse to the car. I leaned over and opened the passenger door, and he jumped in.

We drove away.