“Well, the cake was good.”
Carolyn’s eyes about burst from their sockets in a frightening death stare. “Really? THAT’S what you took away from that? “The cake was good”? Honestly Todd, are you being serious right now? “The cake was good”–un-fuh-REAKING believable! Well I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, because God knows I don’t think anyone else did!”
She went back to sobbing, which she had been doing pretty much non-stop since the big reveal earlier that afternoon.
Carolyn’s sister Jessie and her husband Tyler were expecting. Jessie was far enough along that they’d been able to determine the sex of the child at her most recent ultrasound, so they had sent out invitations to some family and close friends to gather at their place for the big announcement. Patterned after something Jessie had read in some magazine, the announcement had taken the form of cake. Specifically, white cake that was to be dyed either blue for a boy, or pink if baby was a girl; the color of the cake–and therefore, gender of the baby–to be revealed to the guests when the frosted cake was cut.
Todd wasn’t much for baby celebrations, and Jessie wasn’t his favorite person in the world, but they’d been invited, she was Carolyn’s sister, and Jessie and Tyler had been trying for a baby for a while so it was a big deal.
And also: Free cake.
So Todd tagged along with Carolyn and made small talk with her dad in the cramped kitchen/dining room area of Jessie and Tyler’s apartment while surreptitiously eyeing the cake as it sat on the kitchen counter.
And then Todd’s loving, subtle cake gaze was interrupted by Jessie, who was finally getting the show on the road.
After an impromptu speech in which Jessie thanked everyone for “going with me and Tyler on this journey” (Jessie’s drama queen tendencies were one of the things Todd disliked about her), the cake was cut, and it was…
With a stripe of blue icing separating the layers.
And Jessie’s explanation that followed? Had Todd not been there and heard it first-hand, he would’ve dismissed it as the dumbest science fiction tale he’d ever heard.
For what Todd heard (he didn’t catch all of it over the yelling and crying of Jessie’s family) was as follows:
The cake was green because Jessie was carrying a half-alien baby. The father was a space lizard from the planet Quarkon who had come to Earth a few months back for some R & R, and during that time, he and Jessie had hooked up.
Tyler didn’t know this until recently, but Jessie had tearfully confessed, the two of them had a long talk during which they agreed to go to counseling and Tyler forgave Jessie and decided he’d be the best father he could be even if the baby didn’t turn out to be his. The ultrasound had been hard on Tyler, but he was holding up OK and was still “pumped” to be a “dad”.
Jessie and Xyklor had decided to go their separate ways after their regrettable dalliance, but of course Jessie had to get back in touch with him after the ultrasound. Xyklor was shocked–he’d used protection, a detail NO ONE had asked for but Jessie provided anyway–but he was also excited about being a dad; he and Jessie decided they’d share custody of the child.
This, of course, meant that the little one would probably spend most summers and alternating holidays with dad in the Quasar Nebula, which was a long commute, but they’d make it work.
Tyler was apparently OK with this.
Also, once out of the womb and while on Earth, the baby would need to sleep submerged in water, as he (Oh yes–the blue icing inside the cake? Because the baby was–probably–a boy) would be half space lizard and that’s just how they slept. The bathtub would work while he was little but he’d need something bigger once he got older.
Jessie and Tyler decided they’d cross that bridge when they came to it.
Jessie went on to say a bunch of other stuff that afternoon (she loved the sound of her own voice, another trait of hers Tyler didn’t care for): Stuff about facing the challenges of raising a multicultural, mixed-species child. How she didn’t expect anyone to forget what she had done but that maybe someday everyone might come to see that she was a good person who just did a very bad thing but please, no matter what, promise me you won’t take it out on my son.
You know, the usual things one says when confessing to an extramarital affair with an alien.
As she rambled on, Todd’s attention was drawn to Tyler. He was putting up a good front, standing by his woman, but to Todd he unmistakably had the look of someone who’d been made a cuckold by a space lizard.
And who would eventually have to figure out how to install a small above-ground pool in his second-floor two-bedroom apartment for his “son” to sleep in.
Then, at some point, Jessie finally stopped talking, and those who hadn’t already stormed out in disgust left the shindig in a daze.
And there Todd was, driving home listening to his wife sob and not knowing what to say. So he made what seemed to him to be the best, most innocuous comment possible.
But he was wrong, and as he kept driving he realized that family gatherings with the in-laws for the next eighteen years or so were going to be super awkward.
But then again, maybe there’d be cake. Because it really had been quite good.
He had to give Jessie that.