Ilona stood on the balcony overlooking her backyard. She picked up a piece of cake, dipped it into her coffee, and quickly brought to her mouth before it could dissolve.
It was a vanilla cake – quite plain, on its own, but when dipped in her coffee, delicious, and everything she could want for breakfast. How she had started having cake with her coffee for breakfast, she couldn’t quite remember, though thought it had something to do with a camping trip where coffee and cake were all that was left on the last day.
Ilona held the coffee-soaked cake in her mouth, allowing it to dissolve. She lifted the slice and dipped it in the hot liquid once more, just as a bird landed on the ledge in front of her.
The bird was large and black, a crow. She looked at the bird, and in the last moment – just a moment too late – the soaked cake gave way, falling into the coffee.
“Oh, dammit,” Ilona said.
The bird cawed back, turning its head to the side, eyeing the cake.
“Oh no you don’t. This is my cake,” Ilona said. “Over there. There’s plenty of seed for you, and I suspect you’ll have no trouble bullying the chickadees away.”
The crow turned its head in the other direction, and cawed again.
Ilona looked down at her coffee. She considered getting the spoon to try to fish out her lost chunk of cake, but knew it was probably mostly just tiny crumbs now, and the bonds it might have had dissolved in the drink. She reached forward and dipped the cake in again.
Just as she pulled the cake out, the crow took off, swooping just to the side of her face, brushing her hair with its wing while it crabbed a chunk of her cake. It soared around and away, swallowing the food as it did so.
“Hey! That’s my breakfast, bird! Get your own!”
The crow circled around and landed on the ledge again, a little further from her, but still within distance of theft.
Ilona considered shooing it away, but knew it would be no use. It would only move out of reach, and she’d make an enemy in the mean time. Instead, she pulled off a piece of the cake – the piece the crow might have touched in passing – and threw it over the side. The crow dove after it, and she took that time to dunk the last of the cake in her coffee and cram it in her mouth. The crow returned just as she stood, downing her coffee. She swallowed the extra-sweet cake-sludge at the bottom, nodded to the crow, and went inside, closing the door so it wouldn’t try to join her.
The crow cawed and flew off.