Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Pi DayShe'd slaved all day in the kitchen and while her dinner was a work of art, her masterpiece was dessert. A perfectly crafted chocolate mousse and a pumpkin pie all rolled into one serving. She'd found the recipe in a magazine weeks before and she'd practiced three times already, knowing it would have to be at her best on that evening. The first time she made the pie, the chocolate mousse, which took up the top half, was too liquid and eventually melted. It still tasted good but it was something quite sad to look at. The second time she tried the pie, the consistency seemed just fine, that was until she plated it and deflated into a delicious, but mushy mess. The third time she made it, it turned out almost perfect and it held up when she moved it from the dish to the plate. But on that day, the fourth time she'd ever made the pie, they came out of the oven looking exactly like the picture in the magazine. The pies were as perfect as she could have asked for and she couldn't wait to serve her guests.
After the unexpected death of a husband and having three children move out on her once they finished high school, she found their family home too daunting for one person. So she sold it and moved two hours away to a sleepy little town she had always loved since discovering it as a child. It was a small town, but a small town of wealth; even her little two bedroom cottage cost as much as she sold her metropolitan four bedroom family home for. But she liked her space and she kept it as lovely as any of the surrounding homes.
After only a week of being a full time resident, she grew bored and started to look for things to do. She began to volunteer her time and took on a part time job in one of the antique stores where tourists flocked on the weekends. On Sunday mornings she would accompany the choirs in her new church and on Thursday evenings she would do the same at their rehearsals. But still, she found herself bored without people around all the time. That was when the lunch bunch found their way into her lives. One of her neighbors had finally taken a liking to her and invited her to the lunch group that met once a week. She had expected a few ladies gossiping around a small table in one of the town's four restaurants. She certainly did not know what she was in for.
Every week the 'lunch bunch' as they called themselves, met at one of the ladies' homes for a homemade or catered lunch. It was a meal of extravagance. She had made the mistake of wearing a nice pair of pants and a festive sweater on her first lunch. She wondered if she was a bit overdressed but given her new town, she thought it best she was overdressed than under-dressed. When she arrived at the home where lunch was being held, she saw that all the other guests wore a dress or a skirt and they all looked like they were about to have lunch with the president. Nothing revealing, nothing too risque, but very elegant nonetheless. They all stared at her and she knew there was no way she was going to be invited back. But they did, despite her "audition" being somewhat of a train-wreck.
It was her sixth week with the ladies and it was her time to host. She rented tables and chairs and a storage area to put most of her first floor furniture. Her cottage was small and couldn't host the almost thirty women that sent in their RSVP and said they'd be attending. She'd been planning and decorating all week and the lunch was costing her more than any party she'd held before. She was thankful each person had to host before the list started over again. But despite all the money spent, she knew any forgotten flourish would be forgiven as long as the food held up; and anything they didn't like about dinner would be forgiven by her perfect dessert. She'd even made homemade whipping cream if they wanted to top off their pie.
As the ladies finished their meals, some dropped sincere compliments while the other well-mannered women forced out something that sounded like a compliment, she was happy to take anything that seemed nice. She pushed to clear dishes quickly and closed off the kitchen so that no one could see the mess piling up. Immediately after she was done clearing she began to serve the coffee and decaf for those who requested it. She had tea and hot water for others. When the drinks were served, she began to serve the pie.
She cut the first five slices and plated them beautifully before gently placing the plates on a tray. She picked the tray up carefully and held it firmly with both hands, she pushed through the door with her hip and shut it behind her with her foot. She walked slowly and made each step with careful attention to her surroundings. She made it to the table where the matriarch of the group sat and leaned the tray on the table. She could hear the excitement in the room as everyone looked on at the beautiful pie slices. She served the matriarch first.
She served the other ladies at the table and, as it seemed a custom with this group, she stood and waited for the matriarch to take the first bite and give her approval. She could only watch as the woman picked up her fork and began to pick apart the pie in front of her. At the other lunches she'd attended, not once did the matriarch make the disapproving face she wore as she looked down at the mess that once looked like a perfect slice of pie.
"I prefer the traditional recipes when it comes to pie. I don't even know what this is, is it a chocolate dessert or a pumpkin pie. Such confusing things should not end a meal. I like my desserts simple and reliable. I am sorry; the rest of your meal was lovely." The matriarch said before putting the fork down and pushing the plate away. The others at the table did the same, without even taking a first bite.
There were four other pies in the kitchen ready to be cut and served and she knew she wouldn't be serving a single one. If the woman had just tried it, she would've loved it. It was perfect. The taste of chocolate and pumpkin worked beautifully together, not to mention the creamy blends of the filling and the mousse. The crust was so light and flaky that it didn't overpower and added a perfect vehicle for the rest of the flavors. She knew the pie was better than any dessert that had been served at the lunches since she joined, and yet they would never taste it. She didn't plan on moving and she wouldn't be making that pie that she was so proud of for anyone else as long as she lived there. She'd store it away for when the kids came to visit, although those days were becoming rare as they settled into their own lives. Even her youngest in college was spending summers abroad during his last two years.
She been smart enough to hire some people to come clean for her and after everyone had come and gone she changed into her pajamas and settled in on the couch. She flipped on the television and after a lot of channel surfing she found a marathon of The Golden Girls that piqued her interest. She remembered watching it with her kids, they’d been young but for some reason even her youngest, the boy, thought the show was entertaining. They loved the theme song and sang it loudly together over and over again, even when the show wasn’t on. It was one of the first things they had together that didn’t remind them of her husband, their dad. She found a little bit of comfort in the fact that her family would have really enjoyed her pie.
And as the roommates gathered around the table for their late-night cheesecake fix, she found her way into the kitchen and found the rest of the pie that she'd already cut into. She didn't bother to plate it, instead she took the whole tin and a fork back to the couch. It was delicious and perfect, even without the whipping cream. And as she enjoyed memories of her kids in her little cottage, in her little town, she knew she would get up and face the I’m-so-sorry looks she would get around town with as much grace as she could muster. Soon something else would happen and her pie wouldn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. She just had to ride it out until then. She’d lost a husband just after their third child was born and she raised three kids all by herself, one old lady’s opinion of her pie didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Besides, the pie was perfect and she would make it again, even if it was just for herself.
After she finished off the first pie and the second episode in the marathon ended, she found herself unwrapping a second pie tin and carrying it back to the couch… on that night, she wasn’t exactly counting calories.
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