Sandra put her arm out of the kitchen window. A couple of tiny raindrops landed on her hand. IT IS NOT GOING TO RAIN. She didn’t really know who she was thinking this to. She hadn’t been to church since last summer when she’d tried to will the vicar into helping with the tombola.
Sandra closed the window and turned back to her kitchen. Rows of sandwiches were arranged with military precision on trays. There were bowls of hula hoops. Enough, by her calculation, for everyone to have five hoops each. More than enough.
There was no cake. She’d left the cake to Dorothy. A risk certainly. But a calculated risk. Last year Dorothy had brought one cake along (Sandra had made the other six). And all anyone had spoken about for three months was how nice Dorothy’s sponge was. Well, it’s all very well making springy sponge when you only have to make one, and you aren’t making the sandwiches, sorting the drink, making Matthew collect the drink, so Matthew can talk about how he’s sorted the drink, getting the council to close the road despite the objections of the Robinsons (as usual). It’s all very well making cake in those conditions.
This time Sandra had made it quite clear to everyone that she was making no cake and that it was all Dorothy’s responsibility. Dorothy was a flake and couldn’t really be trusted. In fact the only thing she could be trusted to do in Sandra’s opinion was to cause trouble – something that she excelled at. So by that reckoning there would be no cake a all. Sandra turned and strode into the back room and opened the door to the larder. There were two victoria sponges each in their own Tupperware with a third Tupperware container with some raspberry jam, long spoons and some napkins.
Nobody knew of these sponges, not even Matthew. Would, Sandra worried, Matthew know how to collect these when Sandra sent him back for them? She couldn’t have there be no cake, that would reflect badly on her. That would mean poor organisation. So she had some backup cake. It shouldn’t be necessary, but if Dorothy didn’t appear then Matthew could run and fetch them. She’d have to keep Matthew off the lager until the cake materialised one way or the other.
Everyone, except the Robinsons, had removed their cars from the road as asked. She had taken Reggie out for a walk and seen that it was all done. Then she had made the sandwiches – all the other food had been done the night before. If there was one thing Sandra didn’t like, it was soggy sandwiches. Then she had attacked the hoovering pausing loudly near the children’s rooms and knocking repeatedly against their doors with the hose. And now she was ready. She took her pinny off and hung it behind the kitchen door. Now to shower. She looked back over the room. She slid open a drawer and pulled a pad of Post-It notes out and a pen. Then she wrote on a note that said, “Matthew, I know how many hula hoops there are in this bowl – don’t even think about it”. She placed the Post-It note on top of the bowl and went for her shower.
As she left the kitchen the clock ticked over and proclaimed the time to be seven o’clock.