Kumi’s Cake


Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about organisation by James Ellis.

James Ellis is a full-time writer. He has written two novels, The Wrong Story and Happy Family, and has published a number of prize-winning short stories, a travelogue of his journey through Central America and a monthly column for The Gudgeon. James also develops and delivers workshops for fiction writers and is a regular speaker at writers’ events.

‘Kumi’s Cake’ follows a man whose carefully organised life is disrupted by strange phone calls.


As always, our television is tuned to the all-day news and weather channel. This month is shaping up to be the wettest on record – again. Yesterday was the hottest day this month – also again. Today it is raining – multiple agains. And a storm is blowing in from the Atlantic that is scheduled to be the worst on record. It’s a great time to be in the record-keeping business.

I am baking a cake in the flat I share with Kumi. I have never baked a cake before but as my mother used to say, ‘you are never too old to learn something new’ – although for the last five years of her life she learned nothing new and stared out the window all day. But I think she was right. Next year I will be thirty-five; high time I learned how to bake a cake.

Tomorrow is Kumi’s birthday. She will be thirty-nine, her last birthday before the big Four-O. She is very sensitive about this. Kumi is a television weather forecaster and it’s a cut-throat business when it comes to the big Four-O. I am hoping a home-baked chocolate cake will make her birthday a happy day. I have put aside the whole morning to bake it. I have the ingredients, the recipe and the utensils. Everything is laid out. In my mind’s eye I am like a contestant on a baking show, one of the more successful contestants who doesn’t say much but really knows what they’re doing.

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