“YOU never were. World without end, amen.” And with a practiced sweeping motion, Mora’s mother dismissed the heirloom platter and the fresh coconut cake it held straight to the summer asphalt.
Any good. Never were any good. World without end, amen. That’s what she’d meant to say. Her mother had fumbled her signature tagline. Maybe if the world never ended, she’d drop cake after cake and platter after platter, world without end, amen. At this, Mora chuckled.
She watched the creamy icing fill the voids in the asphalt as flakes of coconut swirled round in the humidity. She’d messed up…she’d parked too close to the rhododendrons, crushing a few of the virgin mauve blooms. Even as she did, nervous giggles escaped her lips. She knew what was coming. Now, she was minus one heirloom platter, and plus one exquisite mélange of porcelain shards for a future mosaic-concoction-to-be-determined. The carefully repurposed platters filled her house: “wrong” parking places, a forgotten bottle of French salad dressing, salted butter rather than unsalted or Cool Whip that was or wasn’t the extra creamy kind; transgressions such as these resulted in lively coasters, nesting tables and a nice lazy Susan that’d once held an Italian crème cake for her aunt’s 50th wedding anniversary party; now it was a rotating home to salt, pepper and napkins.
Over the years, the precision with which her mother executed the drop had morphed into an almost-like parlor trick where, with a single 90-degree lift and a magician’s release, the platters fell dead center between her mother’s hands to the ground.
Mora looked at the ground. Somehow, the cake had mushroomed over the platter and contained the mess so that no broken shards of china had escaped. This made for an especially easy cleanup. She sifted through the debris wanting desperately to lick the ruins as she pulled shards from the white cake, still warm from the oven. She cadged a small piece from the top and shoved it in her mouth. Delicious. She had to admit. Even without the maraschino cherry on top, it was delicious. That was it. That’d been the final straw. The cherry on top. She’d forgotten the cherry. Damn!
Back at home the oven warmed, the crème cooled in the refrigerator and a jar of maraschino cherries was visible from where Mora worked on a new mirror for her bathroom. She’d get it right this time; she’d park on the street far from the rhododendrons and hydrangeas. She’d bring the cake back just in time for dessert, before everyone was done eating crown roast with rosemary potatoes, before they were done wiping their mouths with the crisp linens and setting their silver at 3 o’clock.
She’d be everyone’s hero this time. Arriving just in time with a fresh coconut cake, still warm, maraschino cherry on top. World without end, amen.
Shellie Richards’ fiction has previously appeared in Bartleby Snopes (winner of Story of the Month, January 2012), the Belmont Literary Journal, The Chaffey Review, Vanderbilt University’s Tabula Rasa (nonfiction) and The 2012 Best of Anthology: Storm Cycle (poetry), among others. She has an M.A. in English (writing) from Belmont University.