Recipe for the Disastrous Self by Lola Baggen

A bony finger stands erect and aflame amidst whorls and swirls of frosting. The world’s most morbid birthday candle. Strawberry, probably. Maybe pink champagne, to be fancy. Either way, 300g unsalted butter (softened), 600g icing sugar (sifted) and flavouring (to taste).

‘Happy birthday,’ she says, smiling forcefully. Saddened, probably. Pink-rimmed eyes, pale lips; a tale as old as time.

I look at the cake, and the candle, all ivory and strips of fleshy pink —like a candy-cane— and push my hands into my pockets, deep, and then pull them out again.

‘What am I supposed to do with that?’

She shrugs, the dark black lines at the edges of her eyes now downturned. A sad puppy. She worked so hard on it, too. I know that. 175g self-raising flour (sifted), 3 large eggs, and the flesh and bone of a traitor (fresh).

‘It’s your birthday,’ she tries again, holding it out to me hopefully. ‘You know it needed to be done.’

‘Yeah, yeah,’ I mutter, watching wax drip down the prominent knuckle, into the soft buttercream. ‘I know. It’s just weird, you know? One moment you’re rollerskating together, the next…’

She smiles wide, revealing teeth like gravestones and a black hole that screams of the abyss.‘The next is the last supper —now blow it out and make a wish, I’m starving.’

I stand erect and aflame, a candle myself, and a cake too, in front of a woman made up of 52kg of flesh (battered), precisely three wasted dreams, and a black eye (to taste). I think I am her, as well as cake and candle and traitor, and she leans over and blows me out.

Lola is a multinational anti-nationalist polyglot with a penchant for black clothes, colourful scarves and anything folklore.