We Only Came In For a Roast Chicken

The stampede was just about to begin.

‘Are you going to rush forward?’ Ellie asked me.

I nodded. ‘If I was out of the building, I’d still rush forwards.’

Hard to believe it had started with a roast chicken. The idea of one anyhow. For this, the car is a cruel master.

We’d already turned around past the airport. Truthfully, at this point I could have given up. We’d been at it all day. Back to Decathlon in the morning. Even this early, I think I’d already pushed the Cap one step too far. How could I tell? By this:

‘What do you want another paddle for?’

‘Well, I only have one paddle and it’s a two-man kayak.

His eyes narrowed. ‘You’ve always had only one paddle.’

‘I know. I was thinking I should probably get another.’

‘What about seeing the island? We’ve rented a car in Martinique for a total of four days and we’ve only ever been to the mall and Decathlon.’

True that. I thought hard. ‘We could just stop there quickly and keep going.’

So, that’s how it happened. Drove over the mountains, to the Atlantic side and back again. How then did we end up in the huge supermarket next to Galleria Mall after dark, waiting for who knew what? We’d been standing in the bread section for almost thirty minutes, along with at least 50 other people. The crowd had been growing steadily.

I’ve never waited for a mystery item before. It was just that everyone else was waiting. And if everyone else was waiting, it had to be good. Right?

‘Can we please go now?’ Lulu moaned. ‘I’m going to lose all my streaks. I think I’ve already lost them.’

We cajoled Lulu. She’s best when she’s got a job to do. ‘Lu, go ask those group of old ladies what we’re waiting for.’

She didn’t need any persuading. Came back a few minutes later.

‘What did you find out?’

She grinned. I don’t know. No one spoke English. Now, please can we go now?!’

I pointed down the never-ending aisle. ‘Go choose a hair conditioning mask. We’re almost out of the old one. Choose the nicest one you can find.’

‘Ok, fiinnnee. But then we’re going.’

Lu stomped off. Good. Eyes back to the door. A bakery worker had just turned up with a load of cake boxes. Everyone began to murmur.

We had a pretty good idea this was a type of King’s Cake – a cake in celebration of King’s Day on the 6th of January. Although not really celebrated in the UK, in Europe it’s a big deal.

The cake for King’s Day is important. There’s usually a prize inside the cake. The person who receives that slice with the prize is crowned king – assuming they haven’t broken their teeth on it first.

There were already types of cake laid out on the table next to us – pies with guava, coconut, caramel. How was this one everyone was waiting for going to be so special?

To be honest, I just liked the waiting. It reminded me of the queues in Poland during my childhood, where almost anything good required waiting in a line. In the same way, people were getting twitchy now – laughing and chatting to each other.

Lu came back just as the bakery lady emerged. Two shopping trolleys were stacked with cake. That was it! The rush was on.

We all got a cake in our hands. The bakery lady was strict to make sure we only got one each. I’m embarrassed to say that I tried to get more – I blame it on mob mentality. But then I checked. We all had one. Cool.

Then Jack began to give them away.

‘What are you doing?’ I implored.

‘We don’t need all these cakes.’

I looked down at the label. Frangipani – almond filling. ‘Yeah, but we waited.’

‘So did other people. Look – they don’t all have cakes.’

‘Their bad. We do. Let’s go.’

Jack had already given three away: his, Lu and Ellie’s. No way he was taking mine. And what about Delph? Where was she?

We heard a crash behind us. Delphine said,’ It’s ok, it didn’t come out of the box.’

I didn’t even turn around. ‘We are not giving the cake away that she just dropped.’

Jack nodded. ‘Fair enough.’

Two King’s Cakes. We ate one when we got home. Delicious. Guess who won the king? Yep. Our king. Couldn’t have made it up.

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