A Little Story About Cake
There was once a man who baked a cake once a week. He used only the finest ingredients—rich orange egg yolks, creamy yellow butter, crunchy golden sugar, whole cream, and fine-sifted flour. Mixed together, the batter was itself a thing of beauty, but when it came out of the oven hot and cooked all the way through it was nothing short of perfection.
Though the man dearly loved to eat cake, his love was only a memory of time gone by, for he had never had a slice of his own cake. Instead, each week, he would cut the cake into seven slices, and wait to see what opportunities arose. Perhaps someone would come to tea, or a little girl would come to borrow an egg. Sometimes, especially in winter, the birds that had stayed too long would look particularly hungry, and so a slice of cake would be laid out for them, too. And, more often than anything, several slices each week would go to the old woman who lived at the end of the lane in the ramshackle house with the broken fence and the garden gone to seed. She was a sweet soul, kind to all she came across—though her encounters grew less and less as the years went on and her eyes and ears began to fail her. The man felt that if anyone ought to have a lovely piece of cake several times a week, it was her.
One day, the man went to bring her a slice of cake, but when he arrived, he found that she had gone to the trouble to bake a whole cake as a gift for him.
Because she could not see well, and because the market sellers felt they could take advantage of a poor old woman, the cake she made would, at best, be nowhere near the quality of the man's cakes. And it was in actuality far from best, for it was equal parts paled dough and blackened char—this due to the limited heat given by only the smallest bits of kindling.
But the old woman smiled her toothless grin, and placed slices atop chipped plates. The man was fearful. In fact, he nearly trembled with the horror before him. He was watchful, waiting, for just the right moment, the right time when the old woman was looking the other way.
And then he slipped the slice of his own cake that he had brought with him onto her plate, and breathed a sigh of relief that she would not have to suffer.
Smiling, and preparing for the taste of her doughy, charred cake, he brought his fork to his mouth. Immediately his eyes closed in surprise, for his lips were placed over the loveliest taste he had ever had. He opened his eyes and looked down to find a beautifully frosted piece of chocolate cake that had certainly not been there moments ago.
The man looked across at the old woman, who smiled toothlessly at him as she enjoyed her own piece of golden cake.
She gave him a small wink, her lips twitched up to one side, and under her breath he heard her whisper the words, 'magic happens.'