The challenge for the following story was to not use any three-letter words. Not only was I unable to use “and” or “the,” but in a story about two women, I couldn’t use “she” or “her.” Much harder than I had anticipated!
She’s lost in concentration, sifting through numbers in an endless report, when Marcia appears with a paper plate.
“Cake, Emily?” Marcia asks. Celebrating birthdays at Chancellor Incorporated isn’t just popular, it is a strict requirement. Refusing birthday cake is comparable to spitting in one’s boss’s face. Emily, just fourteen pounds away from a 100-pound weight loss goal, cringes when Marcia says “cake.”
“No thanks, Marcia,” Emily replies reluctantly. Dainty Marcia, in a Louis Vuitton dress that suctions to a body Emily would kill to have, stares slack jawed at Emily.
In a squeaky, teenage-inspired voice, Marcia says, “Emily, everyone is eating cake to celebrate Matthew’s fiftieth birthday.”
“I signed Matthew’s card,” Emily replies.
Marcia leaves a slice of cake sitting on a stack of folders on Emily’s desk, saying, “Just in case ya have a change of heart,” as if Emily’s turning it down equaled a refusal to donate to starving children in Somalia.
Emily resumes digging through Charles’s spreadsheet, eventually forgetting there is a moist slice of German chocolate cake just waiting to be devoured. When five o’clock arrives, Emily slips into a charcoal-colored down jacket. It is then that Emily is face to face with this gooey, spongy enemy. Three cubicles away, Emily sees Marcia, chewing on a pencil while flirting with an accountant named Craig. Marcia, whose Olympic body could tolerate a slice of cake, even five slices of cake, without turning it into even a fraction of a fraction of a pound.
Emily makes to exit, Matthew’s birthday cake still uneaten atop a tower of manila folders. Marcia waves, giggling. Emily thinks she’s safe—Marcia is distracted by Craig—until Marcia calls, “Wasn’t that cake divine, Emily?”
Emily stops abruptly. Craig is stifling a laugh while Marcia’s narrow eyes challenge Emily. Suddenly, it occurs to Emily: Marcia is playing a game.
Marcia watches Emily turn around. Moments later, Emily approaches Marcia, grasping a floral paper plate that is holding a slab of untouched birthday cake.
“No thanks, Emily, I’m stuffed,” Marcia says, winking at Craig.
Emily smashes German chocolate cake into Marcia’s face, feeling more redemption than ever before. Beside Marcia, Craig laughs so hard he chokes. Marcia screams barbarically beneath a mask of gloppy coconut mixed with chocolate mush. “You’re right,” Emily tells Marcia. “That is some really divine cake.”