A Short Story by simon81

Author: simon81
Created: January 19, 2018 at 05:58 pm
Upload Type: Short Story, G (All)  
Category: Spiritual | Drama | Philosophy
Upload Stats: 182 views

Smashed Birthday Cake

Ben had just escaped double maths and hurried his way through the corridors to get out of the school grounds. Followed a few steps behind was his friend Tim a short podgy boy with his back pack on both shoulders with a bike reflector in the centre. Tim was trying to unwrap a pack of Marvel cards. “Yes! A hologram” he exclaimed dropping back slightly and moving it around to try and catch some light. “Hurry up I'm starving” said Ben trying to make his way through the crowds of pupils in the tight corridor.

The smell of chlorine hit them as they opened the door near to the swimming baths. The sound of splashing and their footsteps echoed from the stained white walls. Ben reached into his pocket and took out a handful of shining coins which he clunked into the vendor. He bought a fruit drink and put in some more money to buy Doritos. He typed in the code and the mechanism untwirled only to leave the packet of extra cheesy crisps lodged between the mechanism and the glass. His shoulders dropped as he exhaled.

The sound of a large group of people were approaching the door. He hoped that the damp padding of the rabble in the room would be enough to dampen the sound of him banging on the vending machine. He shoved it with both hands, nothing happened, then he tried to shake the machine which made a loud sound but left the crisps hanging in torment.

The seal to the sports doors swung open again. Out walked Chloe with tears welling up in her eyes as she was surrounded by three boys. It was her Birthday and she was trying to take out her birthday cake from it's tin foil wrapping. Tormenting her from either of her shoulders were two boys. One was Clough who was making ridiculous noises and prodding her in the shoulder. The other Gavin the oversized, overweight, overly gelled spot collector who walked overly close asking overly personal questions about the piece of cake he seemed to be overly interested in.

Ben's eyes couldn't help but lock on to him and an anger built in the pit of his stomach that took his attention away from his crisps. He gritted his teeth tighter as they got closer and he turned to look at them. Gavin knocked the cake out of her hands and onto the hard floor in front of Ben. He then grinning as he took great pleasure in squashing it with the soul of his shoe. 'Oops' he said sarcastically grinning at Ben as he gave the cake a final twist with his black boot. Ben took a step back in disbelief as Gavin shoved his spotty head into Ben's face which retreated against the glass of the vending machine his bag hanging to his side. The heads of the other two boys popping up over each shoulder and laughing. “Do him Gav!” “Yeh! A'will, if he dun't shut es'face” He said with a snarl. 

Ben felt the anger in his stomach start to boil as it spread over his body down his arms and clenched his fists. Jack lunged forwards with pure instinct and pushed him back as hard as he could the two boys backed off startled. Ben pointed in Gavin's sly face “I'll make you eat that” Gavin punched him in the stomach and knocked the wind out of him then punched him a second time in the face he dropped to the floor holding his stomach trying to catch his breathe. As he lay there he saw Gavin's shoes walk away leaving spots of Birthday cake from the grips in his shoes. Tim stood to his side just chewing his fingers.

He stood up and felt his face it was cold and wet, he looked at his hand and it was covered with bright red blood. He stormed to the toilets and held his head over the sink the blood dripped into the clear water which swirled around the plug hole. He starred at the reflection of his eyes in the mirror they looked mean filled with pain. His lip had also started to swell he went deep into thought there seemed to be something hypnotic about the thumping of his heart beat, the sharp sound of the water and the mumbling sounds from the corridor outside. He sucked his lip and could taste the sharp metallic tang of his blood like he had been sucking on a hard sweet and it had somehow got lodged inside his lip. The pain had started to diminish and he bit his lip with his teeth as a final reminder of that sharp pain he didn't want to feel again.

He burst out of the door and down a corridor of blank faces out of the school. The steel sky hung heavily overhead cold and hard the street was covered with ice and snow which collected in the cracks of the pavement and crunched under his feet. He walked down the street and around the bend to where his granddad lived and banged on the door. The sound of keys could be heard jingling from inside as George opened the door.

Ben walked into the the living room and crashed down onto the settee with his bag at his side. The room felt cosy a log was merrily heated it from a small burner. It was clearly winter because the chair had been pushed closer to the log burner as it always was a this time of year.

“Had a bad day?” George asked through his teeth. Ben didn't reply the television was playing some daytime DIY program in the corner. George turned it off with the remote and a silence fell around them for several minutes.

“Have you eaten?” asked George. Ben answered sharply “No! I haven't”.

“Oh okay I thought maybe you had had a burger?”.


“I thought you might of spilt some source on your shirt?” Jack looked down to see three spots of blood on his chest and broke the tension with a sharp exhale.

“I'm going to make a sandwich” said george and he stood up crookedly and stretching before hobbling his way to the kitchen.

Ben sat and watched the fire. It was beginning to die out. He wanted to get closer and warm his hands which were turning blue from the bitter weather outside, but he didn't instead he shoved them under his armpits and sat with his arms crossed.

He sat and thought. He thought about them cheesy crisps stuck in the vending machine and wondered if anyone else had had them, he thought about Gavin and how he never even got a punch in, the look on his face as he squashed Chloe's birthday cake into the tiled floor. He felt angry again which reminded him of the rage he felt in that moment. He thought about the look he gave himself in the mirror as he was bleeding into the sink. Several minutes had passed and he barley noticed anything around him, his eyes fixed on the fire. When he was snatched from his thoughts by a plate in his shoulder “Ere you go” said George as he handed over a plate with a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich on.

George had the same but with a gherkin on the side. Still half angry with the world Ben scrunched his face at the gherkin. George saw this and took a big bite out of it “huuum...” he mumbled licking his lips and knowing full well that Ben hated them. Ben knew what he was doing and smiled slightly.

“Don't take it out on my gherkin. So, are you going to tell me what happened?” Asked George.

Just this idiot at school, he thinks he's dead hard, he squashed Chloe's cake and then, hit me. I'm going to smash his acne ridden face through that vending machine glass. I can't wait see him again, honestly I'll get him out of school. There's going to be...”

“...a fight? Is there? George interrupted “I thought we had already had one of them?”

“What?” said Ben sharply

“You've gotten into a fight at school and now you want another one, who are you fighting now?”


“Now you are fighting yourself, he isn't here.” George said calmly.

“You don't understand what it's like...”

“I know only too well what it's like. It's like you can't keep still because you're a monkey jumping around and causing havoc.” George interrupted again.

“I haven't moved.” said Ben

“Not you in your head. A lost monkey with no direction swinging between branches, always wondering, never satisfied. What's for tea?, will I get my GCSEs?, oooh my crisps in the venting machine?, you're beating yourself up constantly, so you got a smack in the mouth and it hurts. I'm not saying you deserved it and I don't want that to happen to you, but you don't want to get that monkey mad. You're life won't be worth living.”

Ben was left silent. This seemed to have struck a nerve with George who stood up and walked out of the back door. Ben soon followed into the garden. There was a pile of logs stacked against the house. George pulled a green plastic sheet off them and a pile of snow fell onto the ground. Ben let his teeth chatter for a few seconds and shuddered as the cold wind hit him, he felt better showing some vulnerability to his Granddad. “Hold that...” George said shoving a log under his arm. “...and that” he shoved another under the other arm and they walked back into the warmth. Ben threw a log onto the fire as embers danced up the chimney and took his plate into the kitchen he had finished his sandwich quickly and George still had half left. They sat quietly for a while the room felt different though. Ben was calming down watching the fire felt therapeutic. Part of him would have loved to rant about the fight and tell his Granddad about how unfair everything was.

He thought about the monkey and the way his mind worked, when he was angry, anxious or worried his mind seemed to run in circles. He must have replayed the look on Gavin's face at least ten times since it happened and that was something he could live without. He would have liked it if George was a little more concerned and listened but thinking about it he didn't honestly know what good it would do. Ben felt like this whole incident was a lump in his throat that he had to swallow. The fire crackled and popped as the new log dried out. George casually finished his sandwich then spoke. “It's 'suffering' you know”. Ben glanced over he felt like he wanted to know what his Granddad had to say.

“What do you mean?” he asked

“I mean the reason you've been sitting biting your lip for the last ten minutes, it's swollen it hurts and you like it. It's 'suffering'. Thinking in the way that you were today hurts your mind like a poison. Look at this fire, it's like your guts keep the fire steady inside you and don't let it take over and never let it go out. It's courage it will drive you and give you passion.”

Ben remembered the rage that took over him during the fight. It was a force that started in his gut and took over him. He was like a passenger to it, he had no control.

“I do feel like I'm playing pong sometimes. You know that old computer game that's crap. Where you hit a ball from one side of the screen to the other. I feel like that talking to myself and repeating it's not even ping pong it's just 'pong'. Rubbish!” Ben burst out laughing, like he was letting go of something. George smiled knowingly and nodded to him “humm” he mumbled squinting at him and then looking up.

“So there's two of you, is there? ah, Pingpong” said George laughing at referring to Ben as Pingpong

“Is that weird? Isa.. am I a nutter or something?”

“I my diagnosis you are no more nuts than your Granddad, I'm pleased to tell you Mr Pong”. Said George pushing up his glasses like a doctor or some sort of intellectual.

“I think there's two of me if I'm honest. Yeah I'm sure there is. There's the me who does stuff when I'm not really thinking about it, he likes gardening. Then there's the me that thinks about stuff and I suppose the stuff is my memories. I could easily get angry and waste days feeling angry about the bad things that I've been through. But I am old and I don't know how many I have left so that would seem like a terrible waste of time to me. So I concentrate on the good times and it perks me right up”.

“that's pretty smart, actually” said Ben

“Pretty smart, Did no one ever tell you your Granddad was a genius? But I don't like to brag” George laughed.

“I like to think of it like space, I like a lot of space and I like to think of my mind as a place an inner space.” My very own constellation.” He said proudly. “One thing I've learned as I've got older is that you can change your mind. The world is constantly moving and so are our minds. We are never the same twice. It's like that old saying you can never step into the same river twice because the water is always in flow and different water. Just like we are constantly evolving and changing so from day to day we change into different people”

Ben noticed at this point his Granddad was becoming more animated moving his arms around as he spoke and making 'whooshing' sounds to simulate the movement. This made Ben smile as George carried on.

“What was that Darwin quote?” he said to himself rhetorically “It's not the strongest of the species that survives, it's the most adaptable to change. So that's what you need to do 'roll with it'. And as for this echo character”.

George paused and leaned forwards pointing “use him... He'll sharpen you up if you do it right. But you need to decide who you want to be. He's like the rainy day man. Make him an artist. No, a writer. Writing the script of your life while the other one does what needs to be done. Past , pre-sent as in sent from the pre-vious and make your future.” Ben started to wonder if his Granddad was a little crazy, but smiled anyway.

Did you that in space there areas called 'Goldilocks Zones' these are the places in space which have the right conditions for life. Not too hot not too cold, and just the right humidity. I like to think that I have a Goldilocks Zone in my inner space a place of love, in my heart. That's where I spend my time not wondering weather or not Kalvin wants to punch me”. Ben had a tear in his eye, there's no one like him he thought to himself. As george swung his arms around like Bruce Lee “Be water my friend” he shouted in a terrible Chinese accent. They both fell about laughing.

Last Modified: January 19, 2018 at 07:35 pm
© simon81 - all rights reserved

Author Notes

Just wrote this it is one of a series of short stories about these characters. I may put them together into a short book. I'm a bit out of my comfort zone with punctuation etc... So be please be gentle. Enjoy!

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