Ode to an Oddity: Roadside Cake

Why have you been forsaken here on the side of the road, cars whizzing by? Do they not see you? Do they not care?

You are still holding together, no parts of your frosted exterior smeared against your container. Your shiny plastic crown still rests in its proper place, not a shift or a jostle or a gust of wind knocking you askew. Half of you is gone, but what about the remaining half? How did you find yourself deserted this way?

Weeks have passed and yet here you remain, just beyond the white reflective line, hundreds of people zooming past each day. Maybe they notice you, maybe they don’t. Maybe they’re curious, maybe they’re too busy singing to the radio to worry about you.

There isn’t a chance you could’ve been hurled from a moving car. You would’ve been in pieces. It’s as if someone stopped, got out, delicately placed you in the shoulder of the highway exit ramp with care, settling you onto the ground like an infant. Who took the time to carefully abandon you without regard for wanting to take you home?

Maybe someone harbored disdain for the occasion you’d come to represent. A broken engagement at a brunch. A funeral so painful they couldn’t bear to see you staring back at them. Retirement from a company that had liquidated their pension, leaving them penniless.

Was there intrigue of a different flavor? They had mob ties and feared poisonous retaliation. They promised Aunt Millie you were delicious, they agreed to take you home, but they didn’t have the heart to tell her that maybe her baking days were over. There was a fight over custody of you, the winner taking the whole sheet, then leaving you defenseless on the roadside so no one could have you.

Through all sorts of weather, you remained, beads of condensation dotting your crown, creating your own ecosystem inside the dome. Rain poured down over you and soaked the ground around you and yet you stayed buoyant.

For weeks I watched you, Monday through Friday, just sitting there undisturbed. Even the raccoons, the opportunistic bandits of the wild, hadn’t pried off your crown with their opposable thumbs. You remained proud and upright, almost indignant, as you were ignored.

Then one day, you were gone. I pictured someone stopping to retrieve you like a stray dog, putting you in the backseat with all your road grime and pearls of gravel stuck to your side. There was only one place for you. No one would touch you after all you’d been through, fermenting in the summer heat. I’m sorry you met your end on the side of the road. But you left a legacy in my mind, and I hope this story is your vindication from the cruel way you expired.

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