I figured I’ve written enough big stuff in recent weeks, so using ‘Epiphany’ to write about more big or sudden realisations didn’t really appeal. Instead, I took the religious meaning of the word and wrote this deeply unseasonal piece about sex, and, er, cake.
By the time it comes round, she’s ready for cake again. In the past few years she’s reconciled herself with the fact that she hates New Year’s Eve, and she lies low, not detoxing exactly, but, well, detoxing. Socially, as well as nutritionally.
He doesn’t even need prompting. He stops at the bakery on his way home and collects what he reserved days earlier. A square flat box, tied with narrow pink ribbon. Sometimes she lets the kids invite friends, but otherwise it’s family only.
She doesn’t believe in giving things up in January. It’s cold, dark. She wants to say it’s a comedown, but that would be untrue. She loves Christmas, but she loves this too – the putting away of gifts in their rightful places, replacing the tree with bright, hothoused tulips, the end of parties and people everywhere – finding him again, in the lazy mornings between Christmas and New Year, sneaking the odd mouthful of leftover brandy cream from the fridge, post late night fuck. Roaring fires, winter walks.
This is the climax of those moments: the golden, frangipane-filled disc already staining the accompanying crown with its buttery grease. It’s sickly as hell, and she’s never sure if she actually likes the taste that much. What she likes is her family round the table – her kids, the man she loves. The man who can still make her crazily horny with just a glance.
He cuts the cake into four. The rules say that none can be left – that’s how you ensure that someone gets the little ceramic figure buried in the almond paste, that someone has to wear the cardboard crown. As he serves his own slice, there’s the clink of china on china and he makes a lunge for the headgear that is rightfully his.
‘Not fair!’ the kids protest, and she realises that this is the first year they haven’t rigged it to make sure one of the children is king. Maybe she should feel guilty, but she doesn’t. She has plans, especially when she sees him wearing the too-small crown atop his dark curls. She has the plans, but she wants him to have the control.
Of course, because they’re parents, he doesn’t actually get to be king for the day. He still helps with the washing up and makes his own cup of tea when the youngest won’t settle and she’s upstairs for hours reading stories. By the time she makes it back downstairs, he’s raising his hands to take the damn thing off.
‘No!’ she cries, rushing over. ‘Not yet!’
He smiles, and kisses her, her hands still clamping the flimsy cardboard to his head. There are all kinds of games this could lend itself to: she could play the scared princess, the slutty maid, the evil queen, even, if she wanted.
But role-play is not their thing.
She sinks to her knees on the carpet, and unbuckles his belt in the glow of the fairy lights. Distantly, she remembers that she meant to take the tree down today. It can wait. Until after his cock in her mouth, his hands in her hair, his words in her ears and his come on her face.
She doesn’t care that she didn’t get the bit with the figure in. She doesn’t care that she wasn’t king. She doesn’t care because she’d rather have what she has right now: the king in her.