Short Story: The Joy of Baking

Holly Lyn Walrath
11 min readAug 29, 2018

A short story about the choices we make, and what we carry into the next world with us

Artwork by ​Lidia Tomashevskaya.

It’s amazing how much easier it is to bake a cake when you’ve got an eternity to get it right. The secret to effective baking is patience, followed by the ability to fold the batter with a metal spoon instead of rushing in with a wooden spoon like a hammer. The folding in must be gentle so as not to break the hard-earned bubbles of air. Lastly, a baker must have the willingness to guard the oven, your feet cold on the tile, letting the warm scents of butter and vanilla envelop you and seep into the whole house, holding your breath while the batter rises, goldens, and browns slightly at the edges.

Timing is everything.

“Not quite perfect, but deliciously close,” Luciana proclaims as she places the angel food into her mouth and tastes the air-soft sweetness, the tart explosion of raspberry on her tongue. She takes one red berry and parses each bulb from its partners, rolls it in her mouth. “What do you think?” Sofia asks their guests. The souls at the table nibble at their cakes but do not speak.“They’re too new to answer, Sofia, you know that,” Luciana chides. She flits around the table, piping more whipped cream onto each plate in little rosettes. “I know. It just feels somehow impolite not to ask.” Sofia stands and carries another slice to the last soul at the table. A thin manifestation of what was once a thin man. He still wears the jaundice of the alcoholism that brought him to their table. Watching Sofia warily, he eats the cake with his hands. She pushes the fork towards him with gentle eyes, but he ignores her, shredding the cake into pieces that slip away like pilfered coins. He’s eating to fill a void, but Sofia can tell he doesn’t like the cake by the downward turn of his mouth. Sofia and Luciana are very good at baking cakes. They’ve made thousands, perhaps millions of cakes, but who’s counting? Being immortal, the constraints of time simply don’t concern them. Six new souls sit at the table today. It’s a big wooden table, painted white, with sturdy chairs…

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Holly Lyn Walrath

I'm a writer, editor, publisher, and poet. I write about writing. Find me online at www.hlwalrath.com or on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath!