Playing a Part for A Few Pieces of Wedding Cake

'Look at all those cars coming up your driveway," Rebecca ex-claimed one sunny Saturday afternoon in early spring. She and her friend Melissa were watching out the attic bedroom's window. Melissa's parents were caretakers for an old mansion and park townspeople used for special occasions.

"Its another wedding reception," Melissa said. "A wedding - what fun!"

Rebecca was impressed. She'd been to a few weddings, but of course had always known the bride and groom and most of the attendees as well. These people in their fancy suits and gowns on their way up the front steps were strangers - every last one.

"What're those trucks for?" Rebecca wanted to know. She meant the two blue vans parked along Melissa's family's side of the mansion.

"They're the caterers," Melissa informed her friend. "They bring all the food, even the wedding cake."

Rebecca's eyes widened.

"Yummy!" she said, smacking her lips. "I just love wedding cake, the fudgier the better. Lots of layers. Plenty of icing. Too bad we can't just ask for a piece. I'm hungry."

"How about some peanut butter," Melissa offered. But Rebecca had her heart set on cake - wedding cake.

"Maybe there'll be some left over after everyone leaves," she said hopefully. "Other food, too. Those little sandwiches on bread with the crusts cut off, dill pickles, chips and dip...."

She really was hungry.

"Well," Melissa said slowly, "There's a way to find out. Through there." She was pointing toward a narrow door tucked into a darkened corner of the room.

Rebecca shook her head - huh?

"It only locks on this side," Melissa explained. "Through there are the upstairs rooms in the mansion proper. Mostly storage space this high up. No one'll see you if you go through. Of course, they'll notice you downstairs, you're not wearing...." Suddenly she stopped.

"What?" Rebecca asked.

"I've got an idea," Melissa said with glee. It took her a minute hunting around in the closet to find as pretty a party dress as Rebecca had ever seen - long, sleeveless, and white, with tiny bows.

"Try it on," Melissa said gently. "I'd go, but someone at the wedding might know me. Those caterers are always here."

Rebecca put the dress on.

"Perfecto!" the two girls exclaimed in a fit of laughter. "Wait," Rebecca said all at once. "Something's missing - a hat ... and shoes. How about that straw hat you wore on the school picnic?"

More hunting - and out came the hat. And shoes. And a touch of her mother's lipstick made the outfit complete. "You could be the bride," Melissa said proudly, as Rebecca spun around on her toes.

"Knock when you want to get back in," Melissa cautioned. "And be careful. People at weddings sometimes act ... er, funny." The first thing Rebecca noticed on her way down the stairs was the music - rock-band loud. And all the strong foody smells that made her stomach growl. Goosebumps covered her body. Would anyone recognize her? Maybe what she was doing wasn't such a good idea after all.

Full of doubt, she was about to go back when she saw the cake, on a long table piled high with presents. Smack in the middle of a ballroom crammed with young adults more dressed up than she, dancing wildly, eating standing up, laughing, talking, hugging, and making a lot of noise. No one paid any attention to Rebecca at all.

But the cake! Never had Rebecca seen one so huge, even half-eaten as this. Vanilla icing, chocolate inside. Covered with gooey pink and yellow sugar-flowers. How wonderful! Her heart did a flip-flop.

Surely, no one would mind if she took two small pieces. Rebecca was just about to take two dessert plates off the pile, when someone tapped on her shoulder. Gulp!

"Hi there." A handsome young man in a tuxedo - the only white tuxedo in the room - was looking down at her. "Pretty dress you're wearing. Don't think I know you. Are you a friend of Rudy's or Jean's?" he said with a strangely knowing smile.

"I ... er...." Quickly, to avoid answering, Rebecca scooped some vanilla icing off the spatula she was holding and popped it in her mouth. The cake tasted dreamy!

She tried to smile back.

"How about a dance?" he asked.

A dance! Before Rebecca could answer she found herself on a wooden floor across the room, among noisy people who'd had lots of practice dancing to loud music.

"Congratulations," everyone kept saying to Rebecca's partner.

What was she going to do when the music stopped? But before she could come up with an answer, it did.

"What's your name?" the young man asked, still smiling.

"Rebecca," Rebecca said.

"And is it Rudy or Jean you know - groom or bride?"

"Oh," Rebecca stalled. "I know many people." And then it happened: The bride appeared, beautiful in her white gown, flowery hat and corsage. The young man happily put his arm around her. "Jean, meet Rebecca. Rebecca, Jean. I'm Rudy."

"What a pretty dress," Jean said kindly.

"Th-thanks," Rebecca stammered, backing toward the stairs. The doubts she'd had earlier had come rushing back. Being an interloper wasn't worth a few forkfuls of yummy food.

Rudy reached out and took hold of her arm. "Wait," he said, "You haven't tried the cake. Come with us. Jean, I think Rebecca's hungry. Let's make her a plate. No, two plates. Some of everything she'd like, especially our delicious wedding cake."

And that's exactly what happened.

Minutes later: knock, knock, knock.

"Rebecca, is that you?" Melissa whispered through the door. "Did you get us some cake?"

"Open up," said Rebecca, still red from embarrassment. "I hope you're hungry."

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