She began by pulling out all the remaining ingredients from the cupboards. The butter had taken an hour at least to hit room temperature. It wasn't like she overheated her kitchen. But the oven would at least take the rest of the chill out of the room; she set the temperature on the oven and put the dish with the softened butter nearby the vent. The gray sky outside promised more snowfall. It wasn't even officially winter yet and there had been snow on the ground for at least a week. A soft whine let her know that the dog needed some attention. She filled his dog bowl with nibbles and bits along with a quick kiss to his furrowed brow and she was able to begin the cake. His crunching of food reminded her how quiet her house was these days.
Her CD collection was a click away so she pulled out the remote and put the player on random shuffle as she hummed and fussed with the pans. The layer cake was one of her favorites. Every time she made it she thought of that day she bought a cookbook from a door-to-door salesman. It had to have been in the mid-eighties near as she remembered. Now she didn't even open the door for strangers. Times had changed, making her feel every one of her years.
Shaking off the melancholy turn of her mind, she danced around and prepared the cake batter. Once it was in the oven she went back to her kitchen table and sipped at the now cold tea she'd forgotten. It seemed like all she did lately was find things to have finished. Her daughter had been getting after her to get tested for something or another but then Shelly tended to worry over every little bit of life. Her child liked the hard road and found every road bump and blockade along those treacherous paths. Sighing, she thought of her grandchildren and how Shelly hovered over them like they were going to shatter into a million pieces if she wasn't there to correct, prod and generally stifle them. But they weren't hers to raise so she kept her counsel.
All too soon the timer for the cake called her attention back to the task at hand. She pulled the layers out and tested. They were toothpick clean and soon cooling on the wire racks on the countertop. She turned off the stove and cleaned up.
The phone rang, pulling her out of the kitchen for a while. Her caller was her close friend and an hour or so was sucked out of her day. Most of it was spent assuring Marcy that she didn't need liposuction or a face-lift just because she hadn't been carded when buying a case of wine for the upcoming New Year's Eve party. At Marcy's age she was lucky she hadn't been offered a senior discount. She avoided mentioning that and just listened to her friend vent.
The cake layers were cooled enough to start the decorating process. She put the frosting ingredients into the Kitchen Aid mixer. The mixer did the hard work while she prepared the cake plate and her tips. Soon she was humming and decorating the cake for her granddaughter's delight. The royal frosting flowers she'd made earlier she frosted into the latticework of greenery and leaves. Once she was done she dusted a few of the points of the leaves with gold and then she put the cake in the middle of the table carefully covering her masterpiece with a lid. Looking at the clock she saw she had a few minutes until the family was due to come over for dessert.
A flutter of excitement ran through her and she went to change her clothes. She hadn't seen the children in months now and she was delighted Shelly had said they'd stop by after dinner. As she passed the phone it rang.
She carefully listened to the caller then hung up the phone.
They ran out of time, Shelly said, and they couldn't make it. But they'd try to stop by later in the week if the holidays permitted it. Sadly, she turned off the porch light and wondered where she'd take the cake.