photo by Baher Khairy via Unsplash
For fifteen consecutive years, the village’s finest amateur bakers – Maureen and Diane – battled it out in the church fete’s Victoria sponge competition. Some years Maureen’s rise was poor and Diane took the crown – other years Diane experimented with the all-in-one method or brown flour … with disastrous results.
This summer Maureen’s sponge was a triumph – light, golden, the filling sweet and creamy, better than sex, her husband Neil had said, though he’d earned a stern look across the hostess trolley for that. On the morning of the fete, Maureen went to find Diane’s effort, hoping to see singed crusts and gluey jam. But … Diane’s name tag was missing from the judging table.
It was as a confused Maureen was leaving the cake tent that Diane swished in, bringing a cloud of sweetly scented air with her, a plate of macaroon sandwiches balanced on her manicured fingers, the garish pinks, yellows and lilacs like an act of violence in the cool beige tent. Before Maureen could speak, she noticed a young man – tall, dark, square-jawed – as he bent to whisper in Diane’s ear, a soft, secret word that made her giggle like a school girl caught behind the bike sheds.
Maureen won the Victoria sponge competition this year, though she feels somehow she lost the war.