A Sheet Cake Dropped in the Rain

By Bobby Parrott

The world is fractal, and it all begins inside me, though I’ve not always known this. If you agree with Hegel that transcendence is absorption, you’re getting to know what I mean when I say the earth is a sheet cake that slips from my grip as I get out of a Toyota in the rain. Late for the party, we park in an odd place, and holding the wide cake as I step out of the passenger door obscures my downward view that might have told me there was no ground beneath where my feet were headed, and both the cake and I unceremoniously lose our orientation, slip and fall face-down in the gully that has unexpectedly appeared beside the car. The entire cake, or most of it, has glumped upside-down out of the pan onto the muddy grass, and when I lift the pan, the remains of it look like a battlefield aftermath and now the sugary blue and pink icing letters I’d carefully squeezed onto its face would never be read by the partygoers. The video someone gets of me falling out of the car with that cake elicits yowls of laughter for thousands on Youtube in the days following. Especially the part where I’m scooping parts of the cake from the mud back into the pan, my classic forlorn-child rainstorm face the real star of the show. But in the moment, the entire world is severed from me and I’m floating free. And I never quite recover from this novel feeling that events are not as isolated as I had thought. It’s like the fall with the cake lifts me into a new country where people cluster around me, bring me fluffy robes to wear, brush my muddy hair, soothe me with hot tea and kisses. Maybe I hit my head on a rock and I’m really dead now, the whole world something else entirely from its old self. Or maybe I just never noticed all the love before. My reactions to this newfound bliss seem to worry everyone, and I report to the psyche wing of the hospital three times a week for tests and therapy. But I feel like this is just an inconvenience, a small concession to the liberation from what my life had been. When I look in the bathroom mirror, my face is not recognizable anymore, and the body I used to take for myself is not me at all, but a part of this bigger thing people can’t help swallowing, a fragmented puzzle they can never quite figure out. But now I know. Now I think I’ve found the key. If I didn’t die when I fell with the cake, maybe I just melted into everything, back into what I was before I was born from inside my mother’s vast, unbroken everything. And the thing is, this happens over and over all the time.

Bobby Parrott’s writing appears in Tilted House, RHINO, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Atticus Review, The Hopper, Rabid Oak, Exacting Clam, Neologism, and elsewhere. Wearing a forest-spun jacket of toy dirigibles, he dreams himself out of formlessness in the chartreuse meditation capsule known as Fort Collins, Colorado.

Artwork by Lesley C. Weston (Direct digital pen, pastel, and watercolor drawing)

Previous Next