Chapter 19: Cake and Whispering in the Middle of the Night
“More cake?” Cynthia whispers to Ilona, just as they both pile another piece into their mouths. Ilona loves this wonderful, moist dark chocolate cake and cannot believe how much she has already eaten tonight.
And here she is, at one thirty in the morning, when by all realistic laws of physics she should be exhausted and fast asleep, especially after all the craziness and merriment the birthday party delivered, eating cake.
But she is wide awake, sitting up in her pajamas on the rec room floor, with games and dvds and half eaten food scraps littering the floor and tables and couch. Strategically placed in a pattern that only made sense an hour ago when everyone started to crash, is Madison, Clara and Susan, all fast asleep. Collette, the birthday girl, is also slumbering, with a clearly visible crown adorning her head.
With Ilona, also pajama clad and eating away, is Cynthia, who is also fully aware.
“No thank you, Six pieces a night is usually my limit.” Ilona replies, also in a whisper, as she bites off a huge whack of cake.
“If Madison heard you say that, she would tell you to toughen up and have another six pieces.” Cynthia says as she shoves another hunk into her mouth.
Neither girl notices the crumbs and chunks falling down their fronts and eventually littering the floor.
“How Maddie has room for all that cake is beyond me, but then again this is Maddie. She does six impossible things before breakfast without breaking a sweat. Some days I wonder how she is still in one piece.” Ilona finishes and tries to shove the rest of the cake into her mouth in one motion, but not quite succeeding.
“I wonder that two sometimes. Last year, at Clara’s birthday, Maddie had the brilliant idea, to her,” Cynthia quickly points out as she gulps down more cake herself, “of jumping off the garage roof and bouncing off a small trampoline.”
Ilona stares at Cynthia in disbelief. The very concept, let alone execution, sounds insane. But then she shakes her head and realizes this is Maddie. Insane is simply where Maddie lives.
“Don’t worry, as you can tell, she survived, and only suffered a twisted ankle. That was a badge of honour to her of course. Ask her and she will show you the YouTube video her parents had her take down.” Cynthia ploughs the rest of the cake into her mouth.
“Can not wait to see that.” Ilona quietly giggles, finishes off her cake, than licks each finger. As she completes this delicious task, a more serious thought enters her head and escapes from her mouth.
“But I am surprised she did that. She always, always, listens to you and follows your lead. She would never have jumped and sort of bounced if you had said no.” Ilona realizes she is staring at Cynthia while saying this, what feels like an accusation, and now wonders if perhaps a boundary is being overstepped. As Ilona quickly thinks of how to pull back time and go back to simple cake talk, Cynthia gently grasps her hand, with icing remnants and tiny crumbs still present, and gives it a little squeeze.
“It is alright Ilona, that is a question that I struggle with everyday. Yes, Madison listens to me, as do the others, for guidance and help, but above all else friendship. Because when you get right down to it, that is the primary essence of who and what we are, friends.” Cynthia whispers, with a glow lighting her eyes and a warm smile living on her face.
“So even with all your,” Ilona searches for the words, “power, for lack of a better term, you have over everyone, you are very careful with how you use it.”
“Yes, because as my mother always constantly reminds me, my friends are not my flock.” Cynthia says, giving Ilona’s hand another squeeze.
“I think I understand,” she says while staring at Cynthia’s face, hoping further wisdom will flow silently, beautifully, into her.
“It is very much like what Collette talks about, when she discusses philosophy with Susan and I. We all have free will, allowing us to decide what we will or will not do. We can be guided by friends, parents, and religious thoughts, but ultimately, it is our choice. So I may advise and caution and preach to them out of love when I feel it might be appropriate, I also know when the moral line of friendship has to take over and I have to let go. It is not always easy, but I must respect my friends. Even if they choose to leap off a garage roof shouting Geronimo,” Cynthia explains, locking eyes with Ilona.
“I understand,” she says, still staring at her friends face, now fully appreciating the life lessons being imparted to her. “And Maddie really shouted Geronimo?” she continues, wondering about this fact, while still digesting the new concepts being introduced to her.
Cynthia giggles, and quickly tries to cover it up so as to not wake everyone else.
“Yes, her Doctor Who phase was quite dominant at the time. She even asked the ER Doctor if she was from Gallifrey, a question only Tracey found funny at the time.”
Ilona laughs loudly, and slaps her free hand to her mouth. She and Cynthia glance around at the sleeping figures, hoping the noise did not rouse them. No movement greets them, causing a look of relief to pass between the two friends.
“That was a close one. Can you imagine Madison and Clara up at this hour? They would hatch untold of chaos. They are dear friends, but can be a handful at times.” Cynthia shakes her head ruefully, almost playfully to Ilona’s senses.
This moment, here playing out at one thirty in the morning, triggers a long buried thought for Ilona, a question she has laboured over since the day she first met all her new friends. And now she feels the time is right, after the joy of eating cake with a friend, to finally ask.
“Cynthia, I have wondered something for a long time.”
“Why did you and the girls accept me as a friend?”
Song For This Chapter: Live Is Life by Opus
First serialization started on Friday, June 7th, 2013.