August 2022

Cake By The Ocean

Lindz McLeod

Play Audio
read by Meliora Dockery

art by Ryan Livingston

A piece of birthday cake in Dublin. A red party hat with a snapped elastic band. Limp balloon rags with the number 5 printed on the plastic. A bountiful harvest of wrapping paper. Two aunts, doubled over laughing, spilling fizzy drinks.

A raspberry sorbet in Majorca. Chapped lips. Heat shimmers on wavy pavements. Thick smears of suntan lotion. A late curfew. A boy who smelled like the liquid mixture used to blow bubbles. The first grains of sexuality, trickling downwards.

A torn hunk of Victoria Sponge on Blackpool beach, following too-hot chips and tomato ketchup. Windblown hair. Seagulls squalling, syncopated, over tinny fairground music. A group of teen friends already growing apart.

Something chocolatey and unpronounceable in Normandy. Someone else’s headphones, thudding like twin hearts. A girl with a thin eyebrow scar. A long train ride to an unfamiliar, warm bed. A promise quickly broken.

A cronut in New York. Vaped cotton candy breath. Ice clinking against a frosted glass. Knee-bones kissing under a small table. A connection spanning distance and time. Familiar, green-needle perfume. Nervous-eyed newscasters reading headlines with placid lips.

Two frosted vanilla cupcakes in Shannon. A text received; Babe I miss you already. Fights in the bus depot. Broken glass underfoot, crunchy and pale as January frost. Streaks of dried brown blood on the linoleum floor. A text received; I’m scared stay safe I’m so scared I wish you hadn’t left I don’t know what I’m gonna do okay always remember that I love you I love you always forever I swear I love I love

Spiced gingerbread in Dublin city centre. Abandoned cars. Empty streets. A hammer hooked into a belt loop, just in case. A lack of cell phone signal. The weasel-bite of panic, nipping constantly.

Black forest gateaux in a seaside cafe. Shop doors, as wide open as coughing mouths. Occasional twisted bodies, scuttling like crabs. No broadcasts on any TV or radio channels. A light, drizzling rain. A reason to use the hammer, twice.

Two mouldy shortbread fingers on a ferry. A crumpled map. A badly-bandaged wound, leaking relief. Calm green ocean on all sides. A pod of dolphins, competing for most spectacular jump. A smile―almost.

Stale scones in the Scottish highlands. Fresh milk. A herd of deer, more curious than afraid. Loneliness, thicker than the down-feather winter coat in the closet. A farmer’s gun. Plenty of time to practice. Nothing left but memories.

About the Author

Lindz McLeod is a queer, working-class, Scottish writer, editor, and coach who dabbles in the surreal. Her prose has been published by Catapult, Flash Fiction Online, Pseudopod, and many more. Her short story collection Turducken will be published by Bear Creek Press on Thanksgiving 2022. She is a full member of the SFWA, a Rogue Mentor to six talented mentees, a reader for Outlook Springs magazine, and is represented by Headwater Literary Management.

Twitter: @lindzmcleod

About the Reader

Meliora Dockery is an audio narrator, actor, and monologist. Originally from England, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY. She can be heard as the narrator for ‘The longest Shortes Flight of Rudolf Hess’, available on Spotify  (Starting at 10:25). and she is a featured artist on ‘The Moth Radio Hour‘ .
She has also appeared in numerous stage productions and films, most recently playing ‘Agnes’ in a Zoom performance of ‘The Shadow Box’, and ‘Rosemary’, a woman with Alzheimer’s, in the Indie film ‘Pray, Love Remember’.

About the Artist

Ryan Livingston is an illustrator, designer, and screen printer based in New York. He earned his BFA from Lesley Art & Design (LA+D). He is currently building out his body of self-published comics and zines, exploring silkscreen techniques and limited color. See more of his work at