Separated by Glass
by Kailyn Kausen
He’s a slice of a red hot velvet cake. She’s a creamy chocolate cheesecake with many layers and curly hair made of chocolate shavings. They are each surrounded by others like them, but they don’t want the others. They want each other, the one on the other side of the glass, the plate standing vertical, separating the cakes from the cheesecakes.
It started out like this. They were formulated one after the other by the same hands. First it was him, the red velvet, mixed together with his brethren in an old silver pot. Those were the velvet’s youthful years. He was poured into a pan along with his brothers and warmed from a gross gooey boy to a firm, but sensitive man. While he was cooked to perfection, she was mixed, settled into layers, refrigerated, and transformed into a woman.
After maturing, they were carefully separated from their brothers and sisters, individually wrapped, and placed into specific rows – he with the other red velvets, and her with the other chocolate cheesecakes. They ended up in the back of their rows and learned each other’s expressions as they moved forward in line, unable to speak or touch, but learning more about each other than a cake and a cheesecake ever cared to.
His brothers made fun of him.
“You won’t ever get her. Look at that glass! Might as well give up now and accept your fate.”
“Why would you want a cheesecake, other than her being rich, of course?”
“She’s not one of us.”
Her sisters had a similar reaction.
“He’s dry, honey.”
“He’s only got two layers. And buttercream! He’s a simpleton, sweet heart.”
So they learned to ignore the others. They grew worried as they approached the front of the line, nearing their inevitable deaths, but also grew more in love. They stopped hearing the buzzing sounds of the others making fun of them. Nothing mattered except the other.
The worst times were when they weren’t next to each other, when too many of her sisters or too many of his brothers were purchased for the pleasure of the moving giants. They grew nervous the other would be taken away for good long before they could devise a plan to be together, to touch each other just once. The rows always evened out eventually, so they approached the end together.
She reached the end first. She hung onto the edge of the slanted shelf, nothing but the lip holding her in place, covered in the sweet remnants of others trying to save themselves, the lip that said, “Chocolate Cheesecake,” like that was all she was. Everything that had settled to the bottom while she matured threatened to explode out of her. She couldn’t look away from the vast chasm before her even though she knew if she looked back at the velvet, he’d give her that reassuring look. She thought she should look back. If she did, she would see his face. That’d be the last thing she’d see, whether she dropped over the edge of the cliff because she wasn’t good enough anymore, or if she was picked up by a customer. His face would be a happier sight than either of those, buts, she couldn’t look away from the scrawny boy with the crumpled five-dollar bill waving in his hand.
The boy was coming for her. She knew it. If only she knew the red velvet’s name, if only he’d be able to hear her say it. The dirty fingernails snaked towards her and she closed her eyes, waiting. But the boy didn’t reach for her, he reached for the red velvet next to her – not her red velvet, but the one preventing them from being side to side.
So, the red velvet and the chocolate cheesecake were side by side again, each waiting for their deaths, each scared on the side of the cliff, each wanting to speak, and each staring at the other from the corner of their eyes, both waiting for the ring of the bell at the door that would signal their end.
When the ring did come, it was much louder than either of them expected it to be because it rang for both instead of one. A young woman and a young man walked into the store, laughing and so involved in each other they could barely tear their eyes away from the other’s face.
The chef, hearing the bell, came to the front of the store. “When you’re ready,” he said, smiling.
The young man grabbed the red velvet.
The young woman grabbed the chocolate cheesecake and two plastic forks from a cup on the table.
“Will that be it?” asked the chef, placing the two cakes into a white bag.
The cakes shivered in fear and their proximity, now able to touch and speak, but they didn’t want to speak. They were afraid of what to say and too frightened at what would happen to them in the next moments. It was simultaneously the best and worst time of their lives.
The young man handed the chef a bill. “Yes, thank you,” he said. The chef returned his change and the young man dumped the coins into the tip jar.
“Anytime,” said the chef as the young couple exited the store.
The young man stood behind the woman and fumbled with the bag, slipping a ring into the plastic wrapping of her cheesecake. She chose a table and sat down. He sat across from her and pulled the cakes from the bag. She handed him a fork and began unwrapping the plastic. When she uncovered the ring, she stopped unwrapping.
He got down on one knee and looked up at her like he was the earth and she was the moon. “Will you marry me?”
She smiled and tears filled her eyes. “You know I can never say no to cake,” she said, laughing and crying.
He took the ring from her hand, slipped it over her finger, and kissed her knuckles. “That’s why I asked you like this,” he said.
They smiled and talked a while more with excitement before settling in once again on opposite sides of the table to open and eat their separate cakes.
This is the moment the chocolate cheesecake and the red velvet had been dreading from that very first moment they were created. But, at least they would go together.
The fork sliced into the red velvet first, his buttercream filling smearing over the fork and across the lips of the young man. Crumbles of the cake dripped from the man’s mouth like drops of blood.
Next, the young woman pushed the cheesecake onto her side, slowly ripping her apart before the first bite was taken. This bite stripped the cheesecake of her form, reducing her to a pudding-like consistency, which flowed down the woman’s esophagus into an acid bath.
The cakes were forced to watch as the other was eaten by the couple, pieces of red velvet flying across the table and onto the floor, smears of chocolate against the plastic wrap, chocolate shavings rolling away like unwanted ornaments after Christmas. Dismembered and dissected, the cakes hoped each other would leave this world quickly and find peace in the next world as a brown reincarnate.
Kailyn Kausen commutes between Santa Barbara and the Central Valley of California, and spends her evenings imagining the secret lives of inanimate objects. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of Spectrum literary journal. She has been published in Disturbed Digest and Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentorship.