Fiction from J.B. Stone
-Everything was cake—and everything I thought wouldn’t be cake—was cake. I thought it was a nightmare of unknown origin tattooed to my psyche, but no. Now everything I knew—know now—and will ever know for the rest of my days: cake. The pair of Converse stacked tightly next to my closet was marbled marzipan. And the worn-out shoelaces, dangling from each end? Black licorice, of course! The basketball over by the stairwell, the one that felt unmovable by even the slightest breeze, was a spun-sugar sphere, blanketed in orange creamsicle icing with chocolate chip imprints. The stairwell was an 18-foot-tall caramel cake, each step a cookie crumb molding in disguise. As for my entire apartment: I could take the sharpest edge of the chisel, cut open the drywall only to find out it was more cake than caulk, only to find my walls were filled with more double fudge and marshmallow frosting than plaster and plywood.
Cake doesn’t talk. It just sits there looking delicious, but what happens when no one eats it? Does it become something else? Does it become someone else? My mother’s best friend and go-to salon partner, at least when I wasn’t in town, Julia Salinaro, was a bright, yet boisterous family friend who spoke at speeds fast enough to break the sound barrier with a tone louder than an orchestra of lit dynamite: was she cake? Could cake evolve into someone with such range, such personality?
When my cat Jasmine passed away, I never wondered if she was cake—but I do now. One composed of factory-processed tuna, and abandoned animal parts. Maybe her orange fur was something composed of super-thin fruit strips, to add a sweet balance to the fishy taste smothered inside her taffy skeleton. Maybe the milky-white saucer in her eyes, was just that: milk. And her: expired dairy left to curdle. If she turned out to be cake when the vet pronounced her dead, it doesn’t change how much I loved her. It doesn’t change the fact that this was the closest I would get to having and losing a child in my lifetime.
I now wonder if my great-grandmother on her death bed—was just untouched cake. A leftover desert; from à la carte to à la sentient, a highly decorated pastry, evolved into a lifeform with pixie stick limbs and peanut brittle blood vessels, all held together until the vanilla ice cream in her body melted, until her gumdrop eyes crackled. She was silent most of my life knowing her. Maybe her vocal cords were never shuttered by time—but never existed at all.
I now must ask myself the obvious (and maybe should have asked this sooner): am I just cake too, and don’t know it? Is the yellowing of my once-pearl crème teeth just butter seeping out? Is my head just one giant gummi topping for a body that is nothing more than cake? When we die and our corpses are stuffed into morgues, are they really facilities used to examine our insides? Or just Dairy Queen depositories? Are we all just cake waiting to be cut open? Maybe I’ll know some day.
Maybe God isn’t just some invisible hand, but an invisible hand with an invisible knife, held by an invisible schlub who is just getting over the worst break-up of their life, and like myself on many occasions, is just looking for some comfort food to keep them going. If my death brings this kind of solace, to be devoured by a god who’s more miserable than I am, more prone to anxiety attacks than I am, more isolated to a support system than I am, then I’m cool with being cake.
J.B. Stone is a Neurodivergent slam poet, writer, and literary critic from Brooklyn, now residing in Buffalo, NY. He is the author of A Place Between Expired Dreams And Renewed Nightmares (Ghost City Press 2018) and INHUMAN ELEGIES (Ghost City Press 2020). He is the Editor-In-Chief/Reviews Editor at Variety Pack. His work has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Flash Fiction Magazine, BULL, Noctua Review, Rejection Letters, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. He tweets @JB_StoneTruth.