Saturday Story: Cutting Cake

This story was written for Furious Fiction’s prompts in August. The prompts were:

  1. Your story’s first sentence must contain only four words.

  2. Your story must include something being shared.

  3. Your story must include the words PAINT, SHIFT, WAVE and TOAST. (variations allowed as long as spelling is retained).

You can read the winners here.

You can read my story below. It was inspired this article that talked about the math of trying to cut a cake into thirds: See if you can figure out what Ethan did that helped Zera find a solution.

Cutting Cake

She couldn’t do it. The table was strewn with the remnants of a dozen cakes. Slices lay haphazardly in plates, trailed by crumbs. There were chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, pistachio, and more, layered with buttercream in various flavors, topped with toasted almonds, decorated with glazed fruits, or painted with colored icing. But the type of cake didn’t matter, only the size.

Zera had been able to cut a cake in half in a way that pleased everyone – that was an easy mathematical problem (akin to what her mother used to do: have one child cut it and the other choose which piece to take). She also managed fourths, eighths and so on. But thirds? A solution seemed impossible.

She’d tried a few different methods, cutting the cake, imagining each person taking a piece, cutting off thinner and thinner slices until they seemed even. Every option seemed to make at least one person unhappy.

That’s when Ethan walked into the room. He was early for his shift. Before she could say anything, he cut the remaining whole cake into fourths and put the two largest pieces on plates. He walked out, munching cake and dribbling crumbs.

Zera sat stunned. It was as if Ethan had waved a magic wand and solved her problem for her. She knew just how to do it. But for now, she’d eat cake.

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