The writing prompt comes from the first line of page 107 of October’s Grand Designs. “I remember how Layla’s eyes lit up when I brought in the birthday cake.” Writing prompt suggestion courtesy of Kit de Waal.
I remember how Layla’s eyes lit up when I brought in the birthday cake. You’d have thought she had never seen a cake. It was really a simple affair: two layers of Victoria sponge with jam between and icing all around. Five candles were stuck in the top. She bounced up and down her seat, eager to get at the cake, but at the same time afraid to get too close; afraid to do something that might provoke anger, still unaccustomed to the fact that anger didn’t rule in this family.
I put the cake in front of her and flashed a warning at my other two children to ensure they didn’t pull their usual pranks. Layla sat on her knees on the chair now, leaning forward to look at the cake, not touching it yet.
“Blow out the candles, Layla,” Arthur urged her, leaning forward too, as if to blow them out himself. I wanted to warn him, but he checked himself in time and leaned back again. Layla looked up at me as if seeking confirmation and I smiled at her.
“Go on,” I urged her. “Make a wish and blow them out.”
She closed her eyes briefly, her whole face becoming still and serene. Then she opened them again and with a fierce blast blew out the candles.
“Happy birthday,” we all chanted. Robert took a few more pictures of the pristine, unmolested cake before we all dug in.
Layla looked up at me, an expression of ecstasy on her face. “Now I am really part of the family,” she said.