THE SUN, THE MOON, AND THE STARS, and a CAKE… A Birthday Story

On the eve of my 34th birthday, my husband walked through the front door around 7 pm after a full day of work. He greeted me with a bouquet of yellow roses, wrapping his arms around my waist in his usual way, while lifting pot lids on the stove. “Mmm, how’s my dear today? I brought you some birthday flowers.” He said his day began fine, but was very busy and didn’t end well.

“I have to go back into the office tomorrow morning, for something brief, I can take Davin with me.” On a rare Saturday, he might have an IT Association meeting, but he rarely worked unless he was doing a favor for a friend’s company.

“Oh? What’s going on?”

“Nothing really, I just forgot something that I need to work on at home, we’ll be back by noon.”

1997 had been marked by the birth of our second son, an SUV purchase and our tenth wedding anniversary. Our lives were flourishing at a fast and steady pace, an ebullient fusion of career building, financial planning, and life celebrations. We were crystalizing our kindred substance in time and place. Both Dave and I were self-employed, each managing three contract jobs in our respective fields, and between pre-K play dates and Good Night Moon, we were restoring a 100-year old Dutch colonial, breaching the gambrels to stretch into as much square-footage as possible.

Amidst the intensity of this period, we paired our birthday canonization down to simple affairs; a nice meal, a card, a cake, a token. A weekend birthday might lend to a family outing. This would be the first year we’d snap birthday photos as a complete family.

After dropping father and son at the station for a 10 AM train, I returned home with our nine-month-old to catch up on laundry, and sewing stripes on the lion costume I was fashioning from orange fleece-wear, for Davin’s Halloween costume. Two-and-a-half hours later, Dave and Davin caught the bus from the station, returning to 15 Morris Street with a shopping bag containing a large, white bakery box. Dave had a favorite bakery he liked to get special occasion pies and cakes from, as well as a favorite Jamaican jerk grill, and a favorite jeweler.

“Dear, you went into the city to get me a cake?”

“Yes, and no. This was the bad part of yesterday. I left the cake in the lounge fridge.”

“Oh my goodness, you didn’t have to do this, we could have had cake on Monday.”

“No, I had to, it’s all good dear, Davin and I had a nice time riding the train, subway and bus together.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what emerged from that box. Our favorite cake, applesauce-carrot. It was the most beautiful presentation of culinary art I’d ever seen. green wisps cascading down the verge like falling leaves.

He slid a new album of romantic sonatas into the CD player and presented me with a notecard and a small silver box containing blue topaz earrings, complementing July’s anniversary pendant. We’d only snap three more birthday photos, but for twenty-three Octobers the vivid impression of that magnificent pastry inspirits my birthday.

I don’t remember the meal, if he smoked a turkey or ordered out, yet what I do remember are the lush textures of the cake, the glinting light of topaz, the amaranthine avowal, and the incantation of Clair de Lune wafting gently in the breeze. Thirty-four pink-swirled candles blazed like an imperishable sun. Contained in my breath, was a wish for at least as many more birthdays together as there were candles on my cake. A devotion unfading.

© 2020, Deborah Garcia

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