A Fallen Cake

It’s late, I’ll probably be too tired to finish this, I should probably be reading, or finishing watching “Demonlover,” or shelving a few more books.

It was the first day of school and I was teaching my new 7th grade class, in a dark, narrow classroom. The children filed in and gathered around a long, narrow table—cue the scrape of chairs on linoleum. They were cute; they seemed smart; most had musical instruments. They started talking as soon as they arrived, before I could ask their names, and pretty soon there were so many I couldn’t have remembered them anyway, and beside they excited, very excited, and laughing, and playing games, and the harder I tried to calm them, in my most measured tones—Sit your ass down!—the crazier they got and the more of them there were, with bigger and bigger instruments, trumpets, a trombone, a double bass . . .

“I dreamed I was teaching 7th graders.”

“Oh, god. Do you want pancakes?”

There was so much to do today! Gather up the electronic recycling items we’ve accumulated for a decade at the house and at Tim’s office, bake a cake for Carolyn, read, write, prepare for the freeze . . .

“This is a doorknob. We don’t take doorknobs.”

“We’re sorry. What about these batteries? This toaster oven? The weed-eater? Not the weed-eater, OK . . .”

I had never used this cake recipe before, and I unwisely decided to start making it before I had lunch.

“God DAMN it, where are the beaters for the hand mixer?!”

“Right here,” said Tim, opening a drawer I’d just looked in and handing them to me.

I was being careful, I was following each step, my mise en place seemed meticulous, but I lost the measuring spoons and, just after the cake went in the oven and I was starting to clean up, I found, behind a mixing bowl, the second egg.

“Happy birthday! I’m afraid the cake fell. But it should taste good.” Carolyn and Jon invited us in. Mamie, their daughter, glanced at the cake and went to her room. Rose Gem, their dog, brought us her toy piglets. On our way out, Carolyn gave us dried fish treats for our cats.

The cats begged for the anchovies on our pizza.

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