Secrets of the centre pages

This piece of work was inspired by FutureLearn’s challenge to turn on the radio and write something inspired by the first thing heard. I got this. And from that most 80s of records, came this.

Dan snatched the magazine from the shop shelves and paid for it quickly. He scurried home in the rain furtively, the glossy pages stowed safely in the inside pocket of his plastic mac. After what seemed like an age he got to his front door, opened it, slid inside, took the magazine from his pocket and scurried upstairs to the bedroom. Janet was at work, so he’d have the house to himself for hours.

He sat on the bed, and allowed his fingers to brush over the glossy pages. His spine tingled with the anticipation of what might lie within. He flipped to the centre pages. Yes! Yes! There she was, so delicious, so perfect, so… his. He stared at her in rapt admiration.

Next door, Donald Slimbridge received his copy of the same magazine through the post, along with a stack of bills, pizza delivery fliers and a leaflet advertising garden maintenance, which he took as a personal affront. Look how perfectly mowed his lawn was, and how well manicured he kept his petunias. He took the magazine into his lounge – spotlessly clean in beige and cream – and sat down for a flick through. That’s a nice one, he thought, and that, mmm, I’d like to get my teeth into that. He flipped to the centre pages, and paused. He stared at the photo, looked at the name next to it, and felt his blood hit boiling point.


Dan’s adulation was interrupted by a ferocious bang-bang-banging at his front door. He swore, stood up and scampered down the stairs, adjusting his trousers en route. He pulled the door, and it flew open so fast it nearly hit him in the face. ‘Dan!’ screamed his friend Don, clutching his magazine open at the offending pages. ‘What the… the… heck is this!’

Dan looked up at the magazine brandished before him, with the centre spread open. ‘Photo from Dan Silverman!’ and ‘£100 winner!’ the pages screamed. But that delicious creature wasn’t Dan’s, and never had been. She was Don’s. Dan had taken that picture in a moment of petty jealousy when no one was looking. And he’d never regretted it, not once, until five seconds ago.

It was Don, not Dan, who’d baked the angel cake featured so sensuously in the pages of Cake! Cake! Cake! Magazine grasped furiously in Don’s fists. It had been the showpiece of Dan and Jan’s anniversary do three months ago, and Dan had been envious the moment he saw it. It entirely showed up the flaccid Victoria Sponge he’d baked for the same party. It was Don’s latest in a line of cakes far, far better than anything he could bake himself. It was the one that had led Dan to take a snap when no-one was looking and send it to the magazine under his own name. And it had earned him the title of Cake! Cake! Cake’s Star Baker this month, an accolade he knew Don was desperate to receive.

Dan looked guiltily at Don. ‘You’d better come in,’ he said.


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