Pie or cake? [short story]

“Pie or cake? », he asked. Neither of them, she thought. She didn’t like dessert. Cream, butter and sugar – they were too rich for her. Just like this society. Just like these people. Back home, she only ate fruits for dessert. Or simply no dessert, because it’s just a fancy ritual that completes the meal when it isn’t good enough.

However, it would be awkward to stare at him. Meanwhile, the waiter started to lose his patience. And him. He would think that she was some kind of picky, on-a-diet girl, which would naturally explain her willowy body that stopped growing since she was fifteen. Anyway, why did they make such a big deal about choosing a dessert? Didn’t they have any other concern? Moreover, she found the binary question restricting, if not authoritarian, since it left her zero freedom of choice.

Relax, she said to herself, realizing that she had overthought. But she wouldn’t make it easy for them, so she said gracefully to the waiter.

“I’ll take what tastes best.”

As soon as the poor man left, all confused by her ambiguous command, she wondered if she just made an excuse too avoid choosing. She hated choices. They implied competition, assertion and exclusion. What would become of the road not taken? Choosing meant preventing another world from being born. That idea saddened her deeply. She loved possibilities. Why confine yourself to choices?

“I hope they bring you pie, because I picked cake”, he said after an awkward silence.

“If you like pie, why didn’t you take it?”, she tried not to show her irritation. Is him that necessarily obsessed with dessert?

“I had a hard time choosing actually. I mean, how are you supposed to know what’s good until you taste it? How can you choose between things you don’t know?”. He paused, slightly awkward by his spontaneous philosophical reasoning. “Sorry. Do I sound greedy?”

This time he caught her attention. She smiled. In a parallel universe, this would be the moment when she suddenly realized the depth of his soul and looked affectionately into his eyes and spoke tenderly, “No, you sound like me.” Though the imaginary romantic scenario annoyed her, she felt secretly amused. She noticed for the first time how black his eyes were, a clear, limpid black of summer night’s sky. But she kept up with her game.

“Why didn’t you just take both?”

“Because I would die from eating too much. It’s like taking two majors in university at the same time. You see, we are bounded by physical conditions. And you would think I’m a sweet addict.”

“I wouldn’t mind if you eat both. I like guys who eat well.”

The dessert finally came out. His was a delicious piece of chocolate cake, and hers – as if the waiter read his mind – was a juicy piece of blueberry pie. She shared with him half of her pie, and so did he. What was even more surprising was the marriage of both: the sweet and sour taste of blueberry melted perfectly into the intense sweet of chocolate.

As they left the restaurant, she wondered if choices weren’t that bad at all. The sweetness that used to get her cloyed now lingered on her lips. In a sudden surge of enthusiasm, she decided to put her monologue aside to truly communicate with him for the first time.

“Spiders or snakes?”, she asked.

Stunned by the question that came from nowhere, he looked at her, his deep black eyes sparkled by the traffic light.

“Spiders, I mean, snakes, if not to eat.”, he stumbled.

 She laughed quietly. “I’m always scared of snakes, so spiders. Your turn.”

“Early morning or late night?”

“If the morning is very early and the night is very late, they are the same right?”

“Nice try, but you still have to choose one.”

“Okay…early morning. And you?”

“I knew that. Late night. Like right now, it’s perfect.”

She pretended she didn’t hear that. “Ocean or mountains?”

“Mountains. You?”

“Mountains by the sea. Does that count?”

“Ha, you always want everything.”

“Yet there’s still someone greedier than me. Fine, ocean.”

They walked in silence for a few minutes. Worried that he took her joke for real, she teased him.

“What, you’re jealous that I can have everything and you don’t?”

“No, it’s just” – he started speaking solemnly – “We are too different. Imagine that I want to escape to the mountains, and you to the sea…”

“…then I’ll be very happy to discover your option, and I don’t mind letting you discover mine. I’ll pass the snakes though.”

 “I actually love the blueberry pie.”

“And I enjoyed the chocolate cake.”

“And they tasted so good together. We made a great team”, he continued in his serious voice, unable to hide his smile.

Her thoughts could no longer remain silent. They left the indecisive land of her mind, slipped pass her lips that tasted of berry and chocolate, of late night cold and street light warmth, to become the sweetest sound his ears had ever met.

“Maybe that’s why we’re here. To complete each other’s choice.”

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