Magazine publisher and mother of three Octavia Banfield has a lot on her plate. Still, she is willing to shed all the hats she wears to put on her baker cap to make her lady lover Audra her favorite cake.
Her reason is simple -- to celebrate their life together and their love. In a culture that tries to erase their role in society, Octavia and Audre decide the sweetest revenge is to enjoy each other and some sweet adult time together. Red velvet cake may be just a mixture of eggs, butter, and milk, but the icing on the cake is the love two Southern women have for each other.
Note: This short story was originally published in the charity collection, Love Is Proud.
Fall had arrived just three days ago, but Durham temperatures lingered in the mid-eighties. Driving to the grocery store, Octavia reminisced about the Winston-Salem State University alumni mixer where she met the love of her life.
It happened five years after her college graduation. She was newly single and living in Asheville, NC. All she wanted to do that homecoming weekend was to have fun with old friends. That is until she met the gaze of someone she’d probably passed several times as a college student but never noticed.
Audre and Octavia attended the university within a year of each other, but their college experiences had been vastly different. During her four years she served as the chapter president for her sorority, editor of the school newspaper, and represented her dorm as part of the homecoming court in her junior year. Audre spent her four years primarily in the library studying, working a part-time job to help pay for college, and volunteering in the community.
They came from different backgrounds and had followed different professional paths. Still, when their eyes connected across the ballroom floor each swore later they felt a connection neither had experienced before. Audre usually swore she could still hear the song that played in the background when they had their first conversation. Even today, “Percolator” by Cajmere brought a smile to her face.
Twelve years later there were three children, two cars, and a pit bull terrier named Shaky Van Struddel.
Octavia pulled into a parking lot to get ingredients to make her lover a red velvet cake for no other reason that simply to show her love. She clicked her car alarm and strode toward the store’s entrance with light steps.
“Sister Banfield, it is always so good to see you. I was just asking your mother about you when I saw her at conference last month,” the former football player turned God’s mouthpiece boomed at Octavia, blocking her path into the store.
“Reverend,” Octavia said curtly. Amazing, she thought, how quickly a good mood can be destroyed by a series of words from a jackass.
“How have you been? You know the church’s newsletter hasn’t been the same since you stopped coming. I hope you would consider coming back.”
“I’m sure. But as I said in the letter withdrawing my church membership and as I will say to you now, I refuse to worship in a setting that does not acknowledge my family or accepts me as being as much a child of God as the person sitting next to me. I can’t force anyone to believe the way I do, but I can decide how and where I worship. Now if you will excuse me, I have some shopping to do,” Octavia said tartly while maneuvering her cart around the stunned and silent pastor.