Mind Caviar Fiction

Shaun Levin lives in London where his short stories appear in Does the Sun Rise Over Dagenham?, The Slow Mirror: New Fiction by Jewish Writers, The Gay Times Book of Short Stories, and in the journals Stand and Kunapipi. In the U.S. and Canada, his work can be found in the Queer View Mirror anthologies, Bad Jobs, Quickies 2, Best Gay Erotica 2000, Slow Grind, and in Mach, Indulge, The Evergreen Chronicles, Venue, Harrington Gay Menís Fiction Quarterly, and Amelia. He also has a story at Suspect Thoughts. He runs Gay Men Writing, a creative writing workshop for gay men. Correspond with Shaun Levin.

When My Love Goes
by Shaun Levin

This evening, when my love went back to his girlfriend, and I forgot how much he loves me and that I still love him, I comforted myself with the making of a chocolate and coconut cake. This is not the first time; I have learnt to feed myself in his absence. Books, open green spaces, of which there are many in London, and cooking keep me from starving. Diotima, in Platoís Symposium, tells Socrates that Love is the son of Poverty and Resource. Poverty, despairing sheíll be stuck in a rut for the rest of her life, creeps up on Resource and fucks him while he sleeps. As for me, to even out the barrenness that threatens to overwhelm me when my love is away, I find ways to feel resourceful. Once I used to run for miles then come home and binge for hours, vacuuming my way through the fridge and the kitchen cupboards. Iíve changed. Well, sort of. Though I still fall in love with men who are unable to give me what I need and want.

Six months on and we have a ritual: he leaves at 5:30, I stay at home. Our love is a daytime love; there is none of nightís secrecy when weíre together. Nothing is in the dark; yet everything has a shadow. I have learnt to write at night since meeting him. I have come to like the night, for the quiet it offers, for the silenced calls of the outside. But this evening I havenít been able to write. There is only this constant state of need, and the swiftness with which beauty disappears - him in me and my own. So I turn elsewhere for creation. A cake that is as soothing to make as bread; I have made it often, itís ease acquired from years of selling it at craft fairs, and making it for the kids at the nursery school where I once worked as a cook.

This is alchemy. Take 200g of butter or margarine and cream it with two cups of granulated sugar. Add two teaspoons of vanilla essence and two large eggs. Now add two teaspoons baking powder and, slowly, a cup of flour. This is my favourite bit, when the curdled-looking liquid turns into a batter. Add half a cup of milk and keep stirring. Now is a good time to add the coconut, half a cup, not too finely desiccated, and two-thirds of a cup of cocoa powder, which will darken as you mix it into the batter. Then add another cup of flour, another quarter cup of milk, and a quarter cup of rum. Keep stirring until you have a smooth batter with flecks of coconut in it.

Itís at this point, when Iíve created something for myself, been generous to myself, that my love for him grows and my disappointment and anger begin to subside again. Now I remember why I love you, I think, as I slide the baking tray into the middle of the oven (350/170, gas mark 4). These are some of the reasons I come up with during the hour that it takes for the cake to bake: I love you because you tell me Iím beautiful; you touch me more tenderly than any other man ever has; you suck my nipples like you trust me to heal you of the mother who gave you up for adoption; you tell me never to doubt myself; you say you miss me so much you cry; you say youíre not sure whether the look on your face when I fuck you is one of joy or sadness, and I wonder if what youíre seeing is what it feels like to be inside you.

Take the cake out gently. Let it cool for a bit while, in a saucepan, you mix a quarter cup of rum, two teaspoons of butter, and half a cup of sugar. Boil this up for a couple of minutes until the sugar has melted, then brush the syrup over the top of the cake. You can have a slice soon after this, or you can keep it all for the next day, as I often do. For once Iíve created my cake, I feel resourceful, hopeful; to remove a fragment would detract from the whole I so badly need to hold onto.

Copyright © 2000 Shaun Levin. All rights reserved.

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