BUTTERCREAM ROSES

 

            My thirteenth birthday had been great so far but then, just as I was about to blow out the candles on my cake – the cake looked up and spoke.

 

            “No,” it whispered. “Try again.”

 

            I boggled. “What?”

 

            “Don’t wish for that. That sucks. Do something better.”

 

            I looked deep into the buttercream roses that were blinking at me. I cocked my head and glanced up at my family. They were all frozen in time, staring down at me as I prepared to extinguish the light of the thirteen candles.

 

            “What do you mean it sucks? It’s what I want.”

 

            “No it’s not, believe me. I have seen what happens if this wish comes true.”

 

            I stepped back. “What do you mean, ‘you’ve seen it’?”

 

            The moist chocolate sheet cake within the sweet, sweet icing chuckled. “Of course you don’t recognize me. Rodney, prepare yourself for a little shock.”

 

            I rolled my eyes. It was easily the stupidest thing anybody had said to me all day – except maybe my uncle Dick. He asked if I felt any older. He asks that every year and laughs like someone has their hand up his ass like a puppet, gripping his spine and waggling it back and forth. I wish he wouldn’t come to my birthday parties. He always gives me Chevy Chase movies. I hate Chevy Chase. I looked back at the cake and raised an eyebrow.

 

            “More shocking than a talking cake,” I asked incredulously.

 

            The cake sighed. “I’m you, Rodney. I am you from the future.”

 

            I burst out laughing. “I grow up to be a sheet cake?”

 

            “Listen to me, I don’t have much time. I was given a chance to come back and change one thing about my life. I had to stop this wish coming true. I could have been anything or anyone. It took me two years, going backward over the days of my life leading up to actually GETTING this wish... This was the moment that was perfect. It was the only perfect moment to do this. So, I don’t have much more time left before this all snaps back. So, please, choose another wish. I beg of you.”

 

            I shook my head. “How can something this small and insignificant derail my life so badly? That makes no sense.”

           

            “I have gone over these events for so long, it’s the only logical explanation. You lose everything. Your family, your job... you never marry. Eventually you slip into alcohol and drug abuse... and eventually you survive on the money you make doing pharmaceutical testing and giving blood. You kill a man when you are 34, just so you can have his sack of Arby’s...”

 

            “I hate Arby’s!!”

 

            “You’ll eat a lot of things when you’re starving, Rodney. Your dislike for the food only added to the senselessness of it all. You will be arrested and sent up on murder one, where you receive the death penalty. This is my last request; to travel back to you and stop everything before it happens. Please, wish for something else.”

 

            I shrugged. The poor me-cake was about to get a lethal injection, I had no real choice.

 

            So I closed my eyes and wished for something else.

 

            The words “Happy B-Day Rod” drew into an unmistakable decorator’s frosting smile. The rose eyes pinched with delight.

 

            “It’s all changing around me, Rodney. I can feel it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank...”

 

            The final words of the chocolate sheet-cake echoed away into nothingness. My family returned to their normal, annoying state as my breath released and I snuffed out the candles.

 

            The future was now unwritten and unknown.

 

            Then I sunk a huge knife into the dessert that had just changed the course of my life and I took the eye. I love buttercream roses.