When the Music Stopped

The cake walks at Bensley School were always where I'd go during school carnivals.  'Round and 'round we'd march, listening to the notes jingle from the phonograph in the corner, eyeing all those beautiful cakes lined up, our mouths watering -- the fluffy coconut one, or the pink Angel food dusted with rainbow sprinkles, or maybe a chocolate three-layer topped with cherries.  Oh, if the music would only stop while I was standing on the right number, the number to match one of those beauties, but it never did.  Not for me.

I dropped my name into a special box.  They were to have a drawing for a big, beautiful cake in the shape of a circus pony.  He was magnificent, lying there on his silver platter, his hooves glittering with pink sugar and his tail braided with blue ribbons of icing.  I sat in the audience, my ticket held tight in my hand, until almost time for the drawing, and then I got up and left the auditorium.  I just couldn't lose again, not the same night.  As I scuffed down the sidewalk toward my Dad's car, the front door opened and I heard my name called.  I'd won! I flew back down the sidewalk and shakily climbed the stairs to the stage.  The principal presented me with my prize -- a regal delicacy, wrapped in plastic, with lavender reins and a chocolate saddle.  My cake.  I'd won.  I held it in my arms, down the stairs doing my best to balance the horse on the big platter.  My cake.  At home, he went into the refrigerator.  And everyday, I'd open the heavy door and gaze in at him, in there among the carrots and milk, hearing the clapping as the door swung shut.  I'd won.  My cake.  When did the moisture begin to seep under the plastic, corrode the reins, the stirrups?  I couldn't let the knife slice through -- not my horse.  My cake.


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