It was Friday afternoon and Katie was baking a cake. She lined up all
the ingredients along the kitchen counter and carefully checked the recipe
to make sure she had everything that she needed. Katie was a little nervous.
She had made cakes before with her sister Susie, but this was the first
time she was trying it all on her own.
"I'm going to do this right, without a single mistake," she
told herself as she started to work. "It's going to be a perfect cake
and everyone's going to like it - even dad. He probably doesn't think I'm
old enough to make a cake by myself but he'll see. After he tastes it he'll
have to admit it's the best chocolate cake in all of Vancouver."
Actually the cake wasn't for Katie's dad at all. It was for her brother
Jim. Jim was leaving for his summer job on Sunday and Katie wanted to do
something special for him. Well, she did something special all right. She
added twice the usual amount of baking powder when she mixed the batter.
And she was so busy thinking how perfect the cake was going to be that she
didn't even notice her mistake. She just put the cake into the oven and
went back to her room to read a magazine.
About twenty minutes later, the first whiff of burning chocolate started
drifting through the house. The smell seemed to be coming from somewhere
outside and if Katie wondered about it at all, it was only to think it quite
odd that someone would want to barbecue a candy bar. Then all of a sudden
Katie realized that the burning chocolate smell was coming from her own
kitchen. She threw down the magazine and jumped to her feet.
"Holy bullfrogs. The cake!" Katie raced back to the kitchen.
She got there just as her father, Max, arrived home.
"Great Grandmother Moffat!", he bellowed as he waved away
the smoke, "What's going on in here? It looks like a three car collision."
Katie rushed past Max and turned off the oven. Smoke came billowing
out when she opened the oven door. The cake was a catastrophe.
Max opened the back door and fanned the smoke out into the yard. "Call
the fire trucks," he cried in mock horror, "Call an ambulance'
Katie grabbed the oven mitts instead and pulled the cake out of the
oven. She eyed it grimly. It didn't exactly look like a cake anymore. It
looked more like a large muffin with the muff snuffed out.
Max came over to the stove. "Very interesting," he said, "But
what is it?"
"A chocolate cake," Katie said as she pushed the oven door
Susie chose that exact moment to come home and visit the scene of the
disaster. "What happened?" she asked as she came in the door.
"Chocolate cake happened," Max announced grandly. "And
not just an ordinary chocolate cake either. You've heard of pineapple upside-down
cake? Well this is a chocolate inside-out cake."
Susie started to giggle. "Oh Katydid, Katydid, what did you do?"
Katie winced. She hated it when her family called her Katydid. Katydids
were insects. Katie didn't like insects.
"I made it for Jim. It's supposed to be a surprise," she said.
"Don't say anything more about it. Not a word. You may think it's funny,
but it's not."
Susie tried to look serious. Max looked positively grave. He leaned
over and whispered to Katie, "It'll be a surprise all right, don't
you worry." Then he left to get changed.
Susie stayed behind and helped Katie take the cake out of the pan. It
was a good thing that she did; it was definitely a two-person job. The bottom
of the cake was stuck and it had to be picked out piece by piece. Finally
they managed to arrange it on a plate.
"We can fill in the holes with frosting. Nobody will ever know,"
Katie wasn't so sure. The only person who didn't already know was Jim,
and Max was sure to tell him. Susie and Katie iced the cake. Max came back
just as they finished. His shirt was off and his feet were bare.
"I need a towel," he announced. "I have to take a shower.
I thought you were going to do the laundry last night, Susie."
"I didn't have time, Max. Katie said she'd do it today."
"Katie did the laundry?" asked Max.
"For heaven's sake Max, you don't have to be twenty-one to do the
laundry. Katie is perfectly capable of..."
"Well she's lost all the towels."
"No I didn't dad," said Katie. "They're still in the
dryer. I'll go get one."
"Don't you do anything of the kind;' said Susie. "Max can
get a towel on his own. It won't hurt him."
Max made a face and groaned. "It hurts, it hurts."
"Out of the kitchen and leave us alone," Susie told him. "And
for goodness' sake, put on a shirt. You always walk around the house with
your belly hanging out. It's absolutely revolting. You should be ashamed
"Ashamed of my belly? Never. I'm proud of it," said Max. "Some
fellows go in for body building, but not me. No sir, I go in for belly building.
It's hard work, you have no idea, all those hours spent in dingy doughnut
shacks and shady beer halls. It takes a lot of effort."
When he was gone, Susie shook her head and smiled. "Honestly,"
she told Katie, "He acts just like a twelve-year-old sometimes. It
makes me wonder how he survives at all."
Katie turned red. After all she was only twelve herself.