Saturday, 30 April 2016

They Sat Outside Eating Cake

Last week, we had to make up titles. This week, Chuck chose 10 titles for us to work with. I saw this one that Tom Byrne had made up and my imagination just ran with it (as it usually does). 


It was a crime scene and I knew it from the moment I stepped out onto the patio to serve their coffee.
The large silver coffee pot was becoming heavy in my hands.
My arms began to shake as I froze halfway between the table and the door.
“Amelia! Where are you with the coffee pot! Aren’t you done yet!” Cook’s screams were faintly heard behind me, but I couldn’t … turn… not yet… not from… I heard her steps stop in the doorway – on the wooden frame – as the air catches in her throat, “My God.” She walks around in front of me and takes the pot off me carefully before I drop it, “Amelia.” Her voice is soft and caring now, “Dear, how long have you been out here?”
I tore my eyes away from the scene, “I don’t know… how long have you been looking for me?”
“You have been gone a good ten minutes.” She says as my eyes wonder to them again, just in case they move; just in case we were wrong to assume they were …
…and they were playing a cruel, horrid joke on us.
“Are they…?”
“Yes, dear, they’re dead.” Her voice cracks a little on the last word as tears wells in her eyes and she looks down, grabbing her apron and dabbing at her eyes, “The police must be called.” She takes my arm and leads me inside.

The questions are asked again and again: ‘What did you serve them first?’, ‘What did you serve then next?’, ‘Did any of them seem sick when they arrived?’, ‘Who found them like this?’
I answer all the questions and end up staring out the window at the setting where I had found them that morning, ignoring them. I didn’t want to answer anymore of the same questions.
Cook notices this and turns the police away for the day. It was beginning to get dark and she didn’t want me to be alone; offering me a room in the servant’s quarters – seeing I wasn’t a permanent employee yet, “I think it’s best you stay tonight.”
“Thank you.” I say rising, “I haven’t brought any clothes with me, just my uniform.”
“Don’t you fret of that, I will find you clothes.” A smile flashes across her face as she hands me a cake of soap, two towels and a washcloth, “You know where to find the water for the basin.”
“Yes, Cook.” I nod.
“Myrtle.” She smiles, “My name. Please call me Myrtle.”
“Of course.” I turn and walk into the small room where there’s a tiny bed, a wash table with a jug, basin, soap dish, vase, chamber pot and a small robe to put my clothes. Next to the bed is a window and below that is a desk which is also the bedside table; above of which is a crucifix. I seriously don’t think God is here to watch over us tonight.

Morning isn’t broken yet and I’m up, dressing and ready to start cleaning the house, but Myrtle has stopped me, saying that the police arrived just before I stepped outside my room to let her know to not touch anything.
“You’ve taken everything you need. It’s time to clean the house.” She says, “It’s Amelia’s job to clean the tables, silverware and dust all the rooms; and that’s just today.”
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, but you and your ladies mustn’t touch anything.” The young policeman says.
“Fine.” She looks my way as I stand in my doorway and back at him, “Amelia, we work in the kitchen today.”
“Yes, Cook.” I nod as the man walks away.

I watch her bake her famous Passion Fruit Sponge Cake with care; as it’s so delicate and delicious. I watch from the other end of the bench as I polish the brass pots, one by one, as she reaches up to the herb rack, looks around the tiny bottles, and finds one behind it.
“A secret ingredient?” I ask.
She glances over, “In a way, it’s secret because it fades over time.” She says, “But I don’t want you eating this cake.”
“It smells so delicious.”
“Yes, I know.” She uncorks the bottle and three large drops stain the pure whiteness of the mixture of the bowl. As she mixes it in, it turns a light pink, then white again.
“Are you a witch?” I ask.
Hours pass and the police are still here.
Cook starts making lunch in one of the pots I polished that morning and I tell her that I’m going home to clean up, “Very well. But you’re most welcome to stay if you wish.”
“I want to go home, Myrtle.” I say, “I don’t feel safe here, not with the police here.”
“Very well.” She sighs and turns back to her pot of broth and vegetables.

I arrive home by coach, pay the man quickly and rush inside. As soon as I close the door, I reach inside my pocket and pull out the bottle Myrtle had pulled off the shelf and used in the Passion Fruit Sponge Cake. The bottle is empty…

…all that polishing…

…I wonder if Myrtle’s had lunch yet? 


  1. much left unsaid. But in a good way :)

    1. Oh! Thank you. I thought I could have said more; but then it would have given too much away. :D