The Christmas Cake

Photo by Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash

A mansion full of books, art, sculpture, luxury foods, diamonds, and people. These are rich people. They have a different life. Unlike us, they don’t have to worry about little things like inflation or petrol price hike or school fee hikes. They don’t have to worry about even the big things: taxes are taken care of by their personal accountants and flight bookings are done by agents. All they have to worry about a successful evening soiree with other rich people in the high society.

I keep looking at them standing by the five feet high marble statue, wearing the chef uniform. Yes, I like the statues in this house more than the people. They are expensive and gorgeous and they fill up the emptiness of the palace. But the statues can’t talk. You might think. Yes, I thought of that too. They don’t make noise, even better they make the place livable when everyone in the family is out of town. You know what? We don’t always need noise to fill the silence or emptiness of a place. Rich people, they talk too much. They have too many parties, concerts, and celebrations leaving no space for silence. So, when the mansion is empty, the silence becomes the most peaceful and appealing thing for me.

It’s Christmas today and I have hired a few more people to help me with the decoration and food serving. They have a long list of guests to celebrate the Christmas Eve. With all the decorative lights and expensive Christmas décor, the mansion is looking like a palace from fairytale. I remember the last Christmas…

“Sweetie, I have a surprise for you.”

“Really?” You should have seen the sparkle in her eyes.


“Is daddy coming?” She came and sat on my lap.

“Yes, that too.”

“And?” She looked into my eyes and caressed my forehead.

“Give it an hour and see for yourself.” I said.

“Okay. But mommy, are the cookies ready yet?”

“Let’s go check.”

She hopped down from my lap and headed to the kitchen. We took out the cookies hot from the oven and came back to the living room. We sat on the cushions by the fireplace and started eating the cookies. We played some board games and headed out for some remaining Christmas shopping. It was freezing outside but streets were still crowded with people. We are part of a community here far from the rest of the city. We love and respect each other. We celebrate with each other. This is the only time of the year when people from different parts of the city come here and explore and even take part in the celebration. It’s like a holiday home for the outsiders.

“Alice, what are you doing staring at the statue like that?”

“I apologize, Mrs. Brown. I just love this statue. Reminds me of my childhood…”

Mrs. Brown looked at me like I spoke something wrong.

“Sorry Mam, Sorry… I’ll be right back.”

I hurriedly walked out of the room. The kitchen is looking dramatic today. Laughter and the busyness of the chefs and helpers have filled the kitchen with festivity. I know my team. They are the best. You won’t believe. They would do anything for me. We are preparing continental dishes for the guests as advised by Mrs. Brown. Friends and families are invited for the celebration. There are celebrity guests too. Pianist Gomez and opera singer Maria are also coming. We have prepared special recipe for them. The atmosphere is filled with delicious aroma of garlic-y dishes and thousand types of sauces that were made from scratch.

In the kitchen, everyone looks happy which is unusual at first glance. They are chatting and telling jokes, bursting out in laughter. I look at them—these are my people, they will do anything for me. Like they did for Hannah.

“Mommy, Nadia!” She jerked off my hand and ran towards the crowd. The place was full of outsider vendors selling Christmas-y things. I followed her with my eyes. Nadia is her friend from ballet class. She was with her father, Adam.

“You love him, don’t ya?” I looked to my left. That was Brian, the boy next door. Annoying me by talking nonsense is his favorite hobby. Even after college, he would come to our home and spends most of his time with Hannah teaching her how to play guitar.

“What? No.” I almost screamed.

He burst out in laughter.

“You are blushing, mam.”

“Brian, I’m married. To Aaron. Don’t you remember?”

“Yes, I do remember. But, do you?”

I smile. “Yeah, I do. He’s coming home today.”

“Mom!!” I heard her screaming. “That’s Hannah.” Brian and I ran towards her. She was lying in the middle of the road, covered in blood. She was crossing the road and a car came from nowhere and she was run over. The car stopped for a while, sped up and disappeared.

My little girl was not breathing. My little bundle of joy…I lost her. Our tiny town was came to a sudden halt. No one in the community celebrated Christmas that year.

Aaron arrived in the evening. He was back from his duties after six months of wait. And to what? The dead body of his little girl? A Christmas of mourning and crying? Of death? Blood? What would I tell him? How would I tell him why I could not keep her safe? How would I look into those eyes?

He brought gifts for Hannah—fifty-two little gifts as she listed over the phone. He brought all of them. Also a ballet dress for her next performance at the Princess Hall. It was meant to be a surprise for her.

Aaron did not say a word the entire night-not to me, not to anyone. He left in the dawn without saying a word. He burned all the toys and gifts in the backyard. I can imagine his agony, his anger, his disappointment, his hatred towards me. That was the last day I saw him. He has never contacted any of us since.

It was a February morning. I was making breakfast before going to the boutique. The doorbell rang. I covered the pan, put on the shirt and opened the door. It was Brian. He looked serious.

“What is it, Brian?” I asked hurriedly.

“I think I know who killed Hannah.”

A shiver ran through my body. “W-what?”

We came inside and sat on the sofa. He told me everything. A boy in the crowd in the market that day saw the owner of the car. He knew him. But, he did not say anything because he was afraid.

“I want to meet this boy. Can you arrange that for me, Brian?”

“Yes sure. Actually today we are going to have a meeting about it in the Society Hall. Evening 6 o’clock.”

“Does everyone know?”

“Yes, they do.”

I could not hold back my tears anymore.

It was time.

The celebration started.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown were busy welcoming the guests. Their son, Richard was in the bar which was arranged in the front lawn. Dancing and cheering with his friends, flirting with girls in sequin dresses. Richard is just a kid. He can flirt with girls and drink Champaign, drive the most luxurious car whenever he wants. He’s the only son of a billionaire business tycoon. He goes to ivy league school and goes to Hawaii to celebrate his birthday. I was looking at him smiling and dancing at the bar.

“Richard is just a kid. We can send him to juvenile home for a year.” They said.

“Your majesty, but he has murdered a 8-year old girl. How could you send him to juvenile home and not to the prison?”

The trials ran for five months. We could not defeat the privilege of a nineteen year old because his parents were rich. It was not possible.

The Christmas cake was designed by the expert chefs I brought. Inspired by Italian architecture, the cake could feed total 200 people. It was an ivory white cake embellished with golden ribbons and a little Christmas tree on top.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown cut the cake with the Omani knife, with a decorated handle. The Parisian Pianist was playing Chopin. I took my piece and went back to the kitchen. I dropped the piece of cake in the dustbin and went to the washroom. I hold my hand under the water tape and carefully watched the cake particles leaving my skin little by little.

All of a sudden, there was quiet in the house. I came out wondering. The kitchen was empty.

Slowly, I walked towards the celebration hall and stood near the marble statue. All the guests in suits were lying dead on the floor. The pianist was dead lying on the piano making a intermittent sound. I went looking for Richard, the kid. Richard was lying on the ground, breathless. His friends too.

On my way back, I saw Mrs. Brown giving me that look. She was gasping for breath lying on the floor. I went pass her and stood near the million dollar marble statue. I smiled and threw the statue on her. It was broken.

My little girl got justice. The Christmas lights were still sparkling on the tree.

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