Pieces

by Megan Thomson Connor

The piece of cake is topped with a rocky chocolate terrain, covered in a light snow
of powdered sugar. Its light, crumbly texture is excavated by your fork, while sitting
among friends, celebrating your 30th birthday. Your hair is a thick curtain resting
on your sticky neck, but you don’t mind the heat. Your fork takes the lip of the
cake’s square corner turning the piece into a pentagon, then hexagon then back to
square, rectangle, triangle, trapezoid, triangle, triangle, triangle and then finally
crumbs.

Another year, another birthday, another cake: your favorite; chocolate fudge crum-
ble with powdered sugar, a square then pentagon, triangle, crumbs.

The next birthday is celebrated with a man. A chocolate cake, no powdered sugar:

should have been more specific. Cake served as triangle, eaten as trapezoid, trape-
zoid, triangle, triangle, crumbs.

A birthday, no cake. You must work and there is no time. Your co-workers hand you
a card. One large rectangle divided into two by the fold. At the end of the birthday
month, it is shredded into 16 thin rectangular pieces and discarded into a large
rectangular blue bin.

Next birthday, you order the cake yourself just how you like it, but you are too
nervous to eat it. The man has left for other reasons, or so he says. Counting makes
you too busy to eat or sleep. The cake hardens in the fridge untouched, until a light
blue fuzz appears in a trail across its ridges. The world outside of the fridge, is
divided perfectly and imperfectly into shapes, the imperfect is recalculated until it
fits. God has tasked you with the burden of knowing the number of ceiling tiles in
every space you visit, the cracks in the sidewalk, the tilt of your shadow. You keep
track of all the pieces in the hope that you can fit them back together.

Your 35th birthday and you are jobless. No money for cake which means that you
have nothing to turn into small bite-sized pieces. Instead you chew on pieces of
paper. You tear off corners at a time until the whole sheet is a wad between your
cheek and aching jaw.

Birthday. There is cake. Too many people circulate a circular room. The curved wall is plastered with 43,892 triangles of colored paper that have each been chewed then
plastered with spit onto the wall by the you, the artist. Cake is served to you as a
triangle. In explaining the work to a red-faced couple, you take a bite between
sentences and your piece sits on your plate with a lopsided crater that has no
defined shape. It sits that way while you make small talk and the rain peppers the
city streets outside, relieving the humidity that has been on people’s minds all day.
You don’t notice the state of your cake until later and you quickly fix it with a
small exact bite, pleased with your temporary carelessness.

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