This is my response to the cake challenge, and yes, I ate more baked goods than was strictly necessary while writing this.
He felt the nerves twinge under his shirt collar, the beads of sweat prickle his forehead; now was not a convenient time to get the shakes. When he was a small boy, Wallace Tymons had named his toy bear Cake. Cake had been his first word, his favourite food and his downfall. He couldn’t remember when he’d first become addicted. It may have been sometime around his third birthday. His Auntie Vi had wheeled out a massive cake covered in butter-cream frosting with a ribbon wound snugly around it. The top had been studded with a forest of flaming candles and in the centre there was a plastic figurine, a knight on a rearing mount with a sword thrust skyward in triumph. When he’d attempted an addicts meeting a while back he’d taken the figurine as a kind of talisman, but of course he’d been laughed out of the group. Wallace’s body didn’t reflect his addiction; it was toned and honed, sculpted from marble. The free hours he didn’t spend glazed-eyed looking over cake recipes were spent pounding out pent-up aggression in the gym, running for miles and miles on the treadmill as if trying to outrun and escape his own weakness. It didn’t work though.
His mind lingered over the memory of his third birthday cake, the moist sponge sandwiched with cavity-inducing cream and strawberry jam smothered in wet, creamy icing, the perfect combination of taste and texture. Wallace’s mouth began to water. Drool gathered at the corners of his open lips and only the cooling wetness of it dribbling on his chin brought him back to the moment. He adjusted his grip on the support pole to his left and used his handkerchief to dab at his chin. He looked up as he replaced it in his pocket, but the disapproving sneer of a well-groomed woman on the other side of the underground carriage made him hang his head to hide his embarrassment.
He glanced from the tips of his shiny polished shoes to his watch and back again. There was time before he had to be at the office. Thirty whole minutes. That was enough time to find a supermarket or cake shop wasn’t it? He could feel his resolve waning and the need for cake, with the inevitable ensuing sugar rush, building. He watched as his right foot started tapping a tattoo on the hard, smooth floor of the carriage, a nervous tic he’d picked up when he suppressed his urges. The shiny flecks embedded in the industrial flooring reminded him of the edible glitter that covered the cupcakes in the bakery window around the corner from his apartment. Every morning he forced himself to walk past and look in as a test of his will power, but today he’d almost caved. His foot started tapping faster and he had to step on it with his other foot before anyone noticed. It put him in an awkward duck-like posture, but at least the twitching began to subside under the pressure of being stamped on. Damn it, the sweat was feeling itchy on his neck now. Was it the sweat, or was it his skin? Suddenly his whole body started feeling itchy, freakishly itchy. It seemed today the withdrawal symptoms were manifesting themselves as an allergic reaction. The overhead system chimed and burbled away as they pulled out of the darkness into a flood lit station. It was the one before his, but he got out anyway, nervously adjusting his clothing as though he were sneaking out of a hotel room having had some illicit, sordid affair. Perhaps the fresh air would soothe his nerves and calm the shakes.
He weaved his way through the crowds and fidgeted in the bustle of people on the escalator. He stepped out into the milky November morning; the sky was bleached white with cold and his breath condensed in sticky clouds in front of him. He bent over at the waist, balanced his briefcase between his feet and braced his hands against his knees. Sucking in gulps of cold helped reinforce his tattered resolve, freezing the weakness in his lungs, cooling the itchy clamminess of his skin. He felt stronger, fortified, less afraid. He righted himself and picked up his briefcase, smoothed his tie against his shirtfront and proceeded down the road ahead. Within 10 minutes he’d be sat behind his desk with Cynthia reading him today’s schedule, he’d have a large black coffee steaming beside the familiarly warm glow of his laptop and a few hours of peace and quiet before his first meeting. He could do this. Wallace strolled down the pavement looking every bit the professional businessman, serene and steely. Little did he know a new bakery had opened around the corner from his office. In the window sat five little, pink, glittering cupcakes, two large elaborate looking birthday cakes and in the centre, on a revolving turntable was a ridiculously rich and gluttonous-looking chocolate cake. It was the mother of all chocolate cakes. How would his resolve stand up against almost three and a half kilograms of frosting?