Choose One Cake Only


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We were having a family picnic, that Saturday afternoon, but mum always wanted to stay close to home, so we were having it in our garden. She had spread a sheet out on the grass and there the four of us sat to eat our picnic, everything bought from the supermarket a few hours earlier. There was mum, wearing jeans and a brightly coloured t-shirt; my older sister Lucy, aged thirteen, her blonde hair freshly washed; myself, aged eleven and the only boy there; and my younger sister Bethany, aged seven, and wearing her favourite pink dress. The dog was there too but he wasn't allowed onto the picnic sheet, though I was still sharing my food with him.


Dad wasn't there that day, but it was more unusual to have him at home then for him to be away. He was working up in Scotland, "On the oil rigs", but he never seemed interested in talking about his job when he was home, and we never asked about it.


That day mum had promised us a special picnic, she had actually gone to the supermarket that morning to buy the food for it. She had divided it all up into a savoury and sweet, we had to eat our savoury food first. We were halfway through our sandwiches and sausage rolls and mini pies, with cakes staring back at us from the centre of the sheet, brightly coloured and enticing cupcakes, when mum loudly cleared her throat.


"I need to tell you something," she said. Lucy and Bethany stared back at her, I gave the remainder of my sandwich to the dog. "Your father and I have decided that we don't want to live together anymore."


"Are you getting a divorce?" Lucy asked.


"What's a divorce?" Bethany added, looking from mum to Lucy with her wide-eyed worried expression.


"It's where mum and dad stop being married," Lucy replied, speaking fast before anyone else could.


"Yes," mum said, pulling the conversation back to her. "Dad is going to stay in Scotland. He's met a new girlfriend there."


"What's her name?" Lucy asked.


"Her name is Maggie," mum replied, frustration was loud in her voice, I'd heard that tone many times before.


"Mrs Harrison's sister is called Maggie," Lucy added.


"I know, it's not her. Now let me finish!" Mum snapped. Her face falling into a frown.


"Sorry mum," Lucy said, her voice dropping in volume.


"Dad is going to stay in Scotland," mum continued, though she now sounded very tired. "He wants one of you three to go live with him in Scotland and the other two will stay here with me. He doesn't want me to sell this house, not yet anyway, so you'll still live here with me. I suppose that's the best thing."


"I want to stay here with you mummy," Lucy said, jumping in so quickly that mum had barely stopped speaking before Lucy's words tumbled out. "I don't want to live in Scotland, it's cold up there."


"I don't want to live in Scotland, too, I want to stay here with you and my friends. I don't know where Scotland is," Bethany hurriedly added, her words spoken almost as fast as Lucy's.


"Well that's decided that," mum said, almost relief in her voice.


"What about me?" I protested.


"But Billy, it's already been decided," mum replied.


"You didn't ask me," I said, staring straight at her, though now mum didn't look back.


"Billy, Lucy and Bethany are staying here with me, and you're going to live with your father. You kids decided," mum said, her voice becoming quiet and low.


"You didn't ask me," I said.


"I don't want to have to go to Scotland," Bethany hurriedly said.


"You don't even know where it is, stupid," I snapped back at her.


"Billy!" Mum shouted at me, anger now plain in her voice. I stared back at her but she only looked away from me again.


This is how it always was. Mum would always listened to Lucy and Bethany first, always doing what they wanted to do over anything I wanted to do. I'd had to stop playing football on a Saturday morning because mum had to pick-up Lucy from her drama group and Bethany from her dance class. There wasn't enough time to also pick up me from my football game, so I had to give up football, it was the way it was. Now I saw it all clearly, I wasn't wanted around here.


"If I have to go to Scotland then the dog comes with me. I want him with me," I demanded.


"But I love Scruffy and I want him with us," Bethany cried out, her eyes were actually starting to glaze over tears. There had been no tears for me, but she was starting to cry at the threat of losing the dog.


"Tough," I snapped back.


"Billy, don't upset her," mum said, but the fire had gone out of her voice.


"And I'm having this," I said as I reach over for the stack of cupcakes on the centre of the sheet. Sitting on the top of stack was a double chocolate cupcake, swirls of white chocolate decorating its milk chocolate icing, and I took it.


"Hey mum!" Lucy cried out. "I wanted that one. You said I could have that one."


"I wanted a say!" I shouted back at all of them.


"Stop this! Stop this now!" Mum shouted back at all of us. "Girls, in the house now!"


Mum leapt up and almost dragged the girls into the house with her, as they protested against it, leaving the dog and I with the remains of the picnic.


I bit into the cupcake and started to feed sausage rolls to the dog.

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