Chapter Twenty-Six

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Small writer's note: I wrote an announcement on my profile that addresses some things I don't want to get into on here. As always, thanks for your patience. 🐥

This is a shorter chapter to finish off the competition arc. Ch25 came out yesterday and I'll post ch27 tomorrow. 

WC: ~3.3k

"You have to breathe, okay? That's the first thing you have to do. You're so creative and smart. So you can get through this. Even if it's hard. It cannot break you," someone was talking near me. It took me a second to recognize the voice as my father's. "You still have ninety minutes, okay? It's not the end. We can breathe together."

Then, my dad was on the floor with me, knees creaking as he sat down.

"Your mother and Cyrus are taking care of the cameras, okay? Just be here with me and breathe. Let's count together." My dad's voice was soft. He'd done this many times with me and the familiarity was as embarrassing as it was soothing.

We counted together for several seconds until the breaths started to come easier and then he patted me on the back. "Don't let this lady think it's okay to take advantage of you."

Soon, the both of us were standing and that's when I started to regain my awareness of what was happening. Mary Lou was still cooking, and my mother and Cyrus were arguing animatedly with both Richard and Aditya.

My mother hovered over both Richard and Aditya, nearly yelling at them. Her accent was something between a West African one and a French one when she spoke English and when she got upset it became significantly stronger.

"You think it's funny, heh?" She said in a stern voice, "you see someone who is upset and you want to gawk? I don't want a single camera facing this way!"

One camera man lowered his camera and looked confused and unsure what to do.

Aditya raised his hands. "You better keep that camera up, Ralph! Mrs.Nkrumah...listen."

My mother turned on Ralph. "You have no shame?!" Then she turned to Richard. "All you are is a show producer and you are determined to make a show! It's pitiful."

Richard tried to get a word in but my mother continued berating him and his response to my distress.

Cyrus looked over his shoulder at me. "Keep going D!"

I turned back to the monumental task before me and sighed. I went back to my station and started spooning out some of my leftover batter into some pans, feeling lucky that I'd made much more than I needed. My family had finally gone back up to the balcony and I was thankful for them and their support even if it came in unexpected ways.

#

"Hands up bakers!" Aditya called out ninety minutes later.

Both me and Mary Lou stepped back from our creations and I was shocked at what I'd still managed to put together.

My biggest issue was that my cakes weren't cold enough before I started to stack them and place the layers. I feared it would soften the other components, make the icing melt, or make the cake lean awkwardly. It wasn't how I envisioned it would be. Not even a little bit.

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