The hell with it: I was going to have my cake and eat it too. So I baked two cakes. It was that simple – so simple I wondered why I’d never done it before. When they were done, the sweet, stodgy smell of fresh Victoria sponge was so overpowering I could hardly wait for them to cool before filling them with strawberry jam and diving in.
And then she was at my door. Olive skinned, covered in a moth-eaten shawl, eyes accusing. She carried a long cardboard tube under her arm.
“Can I help you?” I said as she barged past me into the kitchen.
Her reply was in a language I didn’t understand.
She shook her head and pulled a poster out of her tube, affixing it to the wall with drawing pins and muttering as she did so.
“Ah,” I said. It was a series of graphs labelled with years, numbers and dollar signs. My visitor’s peroration picked up speed and volume and from time to time she would point at my cakes, raise two fingers at me and shake her head again.
I shrugged. “Sorry,” I said. “Don’t understand.”
She sighed, took the poster down, rolled it up and put back in the tube, replacing it with another one that showed a pie chart. A minuscule wedge of this chart was coloured red, while the rest of it was blue. She pointed to the blue part, to me, to the red part and finally to herself.
“Ah!” I said, understanding at last. I took a knife and cut a slice of my cake to the exact angle of the segment in her chart and offered it to her.