Desire for the perfect gift

[Laura has made a cake for her husband’s birthday]

What Laura regrets, what she can hardly bear, is the cake. It embarrasses her, but she can’t deny it. It’s only sugar, flour, and eggs – part of a cake’s charm is its inevitable imperfections. She knows that, of course she does. Still she had hoped to create something finer, something more significant than what she’s produced, even with its smooth surface and its centered message. She wants (she admits to herself) a dream of a cake manifested as an actual cake; a cake invested with an undeniable and profound sense of comfort, of bounty. She wants to have a cake that banishes sorrow, even if only for a little while. She wants to have produced something marvelous, something that would be marvelous even to those who do not love her.

Michael Cunningham,The Hours 1999 Fourth Estate London

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