We have a tradition, which I’m sure most company offices have, of bringing a cake to share with everyone on your birthday. The cakes vary between home made and store-bought, and occasionally we get a mix of pastries or party pies and sausage rolls to introduce some excitement and variety in our culinary experience.
Invariably there is always one piece of cake left which without fail finds it’s way to the top shelf of the kitchenette fridge sitting all alone on a plate with a hurt look of dejection after being shunned by my workmates.
It must be out of some sense of nobility that nobody ever wants to eat that last piece of cake in our workplace. Granted, in some workplaces and households there’s often a mad scramble and sometimes deception, bullying, begging, pleading, threats and intimidation involved when it comes down to the last piece, but not here. It’s all, “Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly” or “No, you go ahead. I’ve had enough”. And it’s all sincere, too. Not one single person reveals that look of “Please don’t take it because I really want it” via sheepish, pleading eyes.
So, what happens with that last piece of cake? Nothing. It sits there on the plate on the top shelf and keeps drying out, looking more and more like the “Before” shot of a Botox story in Women’s Weekly. It withers and dries after a few days, and when most of the moisture has escaped is when the mould sets in.
The cake is evolving, gaining sentience and is trying to escape. To what end? Probably for vengeance. For days the cake has been shut in a cold, dark box waiting for a saviour to take him away. The monotony has been broken by rare glimpses of faces opening the door to put their own lunch in the fridge, and turning their noses up in disgust at the horror they see before them on the top shelf. Well no more. The cake wants to find a human and eat all but the head, and leave the head sitting powerless trying to deal with the fact that nobody will finish it off. It’s going to grow appendages and lash out the next chance it gets.
To break the chain, when we had an office birthday last week I offered the last of the cake around to everyone and then made a move to throw it out after it was refused. “What are you doing?”, came the cries. “You can’t throw out perfectly good food!”.
“Face it,” I said. “It’s just going to sit on the top shelf like all the others until it grows mould and has to be thrown out. What, you didn’t think all those other single, lone pieces of cake were actually eaten, did you? I threw them all out, and this one will share the same fate. I’m doing it now just to save time so I don’t have to do it later.”
Eventually I was talked out of throwing it out, and there it sits. And there it will sit, evolving and plotting terror until someone else decides that sanitation is the better part of valour and has the guts to remove it. That person isn’t going to be me this time. I just hope I’m not the one to open the fridge to find a self-aware dessert with claws and teeth and a personality disorder brought on by a lifetime of rejection.