the first time somebody bakes a cake especially for isak, he’s four years old. it’s half vanilla half chocolate, and the edges are burnt black. across its face is scribbled elsker deg in a trail of lumpy blue icing, and it’s- perfect.
even has it wrapped up tight in a raspberry box, bow nestled lopsided on the lid.
isak’s huddled himself up small in the corner of the hospital’s playroom, and he’s crying, knees tucked in against his chest, dimpled hands over his face. even sits down on the floor in front of him, cross-legged. squints his eyes a little around an awkward smile when isak peeks through his chubby fingers to glance at him - isak’s cheeks are even puffier than usual.
“i want my mom,” is all he says. quiet, thick voice sticky against his palms.
even scoots closer, lifts his shoulder nervously. he’s two years older than isak and even he hadn’t been allowed in isak’s mom’s hospital room - he too had been ushered into the dumb playroom with all the drooling babies.
“baked you cake,” he whispers. isak doesn’t respond, so even reaches out, strokes the curls back so, so gently from isak’s forehead. he’s seen isak’s mom do it before, when isak’s small and sleepy in her lap. “look? here.”
it takes a few moments, but when he peels the lid away, isak eventually drops his hands so that he can carry out an inspection. crosses his legs and leans in over his knees to peer inside at even’s creation.
for a moment, until he scrunches up his pink-tipped nose, and huffs, tipping his chin up defiantly when he combs out even’s gave, “wha’s it say?”
oh, even remembers, jaw dropping, isak’s not in school yet. he can’t read.
“it’s ‘kay,” he smiles. he wriggles around on the floor, shoes squeaking against the linoleum, until he’s sitting at isak’s side. as they both lean back against the wall, he takes isak’s hand softly and tugs it over.
he traces the letters slowly with isak’s fingers as he reads aloud, “elsker deg.”
isak- doesn’t smile. doesn’t laugh. but some of the hot, black ice in the bottom of his tummy melts, and he nods, and when even’s busy tearing a piece of the cake off for them to share, he leans in - and presses a kiss to his friend’s cheek.
“elsker deg,” he says.