WEDNESDAY: Peaches

BY CORRIE ADAMS

Copyright is held by the author.

THE KIDS ARE BICKERING. Again. They’re cranky, tired of being cooped up inside. So am I.

The furnace whooshes to life, the house creaks in the wind, and freezing rain rattles against my window. I look out at snow that’s gone the dirty grey of an unwashed ashtray, and sigh.

The dreams that kept our spirits up earlier in the season have all disappeared — packed up with the Christmas decorations and pretty lights, perhaps — and now, deep into January, summer seems like science fiction. Like something that we read about or dreamed about or maybe just made up. We’ve forgotten what it feels like to be warm.

Ahh. It must be time.

I head for the freezer, push aside chicken breasts and frozen pizzas and pull out my prize: a homemade peach pie, prepared by my mom last summer.

“What do you want for your birthday?” she had asked me, her hands busy rolling out the dough for a pie crust.

I held a fresh peach in my hands, stolen from one of the baskets lining her kitchen counter. I took one juicy bite, and immediately, I knew:

“A pie, please. I want you to make me a pie.”

She made me two, and presented them to me the following week. “One for now, one for later,” she had scrawled at the bottom of my birthday card. “You’ll know when it’s time.”

On that humid August evening, I blew out my candles and we gorged ourselves on homemade peach pie, but only one. The second was tucked away in the freezer, and that’s where it has stayed. Until now.

The pie is wrapped in foil and further protected by a plastic freezer bag. Instructions are printed on the bag with thick black marker. My mother’s neat block letters read:

TO BAKE: Remove ALL wrapping. Cut vents in top of frozen pie and bake frozen at 425F for 45 minutes, then turn oven down to 350F and bake for 30 minutes more or until filling bubbles and crust is brown. Enjoy!

I slide the pie into the oven, and settle down at the kitchen table with a book. Forty-five minutes later, I get up to adjust the temperature and just as I turn the knob down to 350, my children wander into the room. They’ve followed their noses.

“What’s that yummy smell?” Kelly asks.

Daniel peers into the oven. “Yeah. What are you making?”

“Peach pie,” I reply. “One of Nana’s, from last summer.”

The kids drop into their chairs, all squabbles forgotten. Their eager faces make me laugh.

“Sorry guys, it won’t be ready for a while yet.”

The light in their eyes dims a little, but not by much.

“S’okay,” Daniel says, after a moment’s consideration. “We’ll wait.”

Kelly nods her agreement. I haven’t seen Kelly agree with her brother since she was two years old and worshiped the ground his five-year-old feet walked on.

“Wow, this pie must have some powerful magic inside it. A truce. I don’t believe it!”

Kelly giggles. Daniel rolls his eyes. I drop kisses on their heads, one after the other, and slide into my own seat. Outside, the ice pellets have changed to sleet, a streaming curtain of icy misery coating my window. But here inside my bright, warm kitchen, the children’s laughter and the heavenly scent of pie fill the air. An oasis.

The timer interrupts our conversation. Daniel jumps from his chair with a whoop.

It has to cool,” I tell them as I pull the pie from the oven. “Wait.”

But they can’t wait. They beg and bother until I finally relent, and cut three generous pieces. I top the steaming slices of pie with ice cream, which melts in runny rivers down the sides, pooling on the plate to form vanilla lakes. This will be sopped up with bits of pie crust later, but first: the delicious filling. We each scoop up a huge forkful of peaches and sugary syrup, and delight in this unexpected reminder of summer.

Daniel wolfs his piece down. Kelly gobbles hers with quick, tiny bites. But I take my time, savouring every single, sunshiny bite.

All too soon, the peaches are just a memory; the pie crust border made from my mother’s thumbprints is all that’s left. I swirl the pieces through ice cream puddles and let the pastry melt on my tongue.

My fork joins the chorus of plate-scraping that Kelly and Daniel have begun. We seek every last crumb, not putting our dishes aside until we’re satisfied that nothing else remains.

Basking in the post-sugar high, we sit back in our chairs, replete. Daniel lets out a soft belch, and the spell that has held us together for the last half-hour, is broken.

Kelly slides her chair back, wood scraping against ceramic tile. “I’m going to call Jayda!”

“Yeah, for sure,” Daniel says. “It’s been…what? Two hours since you last talked? She’s probably discovered the cure for cancer since then.”

“You’re just jealous because your friends aren’t capable of speaking in anything more than grunts.”

Their voices fade as they thunder up the stairs. One door slams, then another. I am alone.

I fill the sink with hot, soapy water and wash our plates and forks. My belly is full, my shoulders are loose and summer is a possibility, a promise.

Dishes done, I dig my phone out of my purse and dial my mother’s number.

6 comments

  1. Connie Cook

    Lot’s of sensory detail. Loved it! Darn, I’d kill for a slice of that pie.
    Cheers
    Connie

  2. Moira Garland

    My mouth is watering! I specially liked your description of “snow that’s gone the dirty grey of an unwashed ashtray” – you found a phrase I could have done with when I wrote a recent poem about snow. I’m sure though that you have had longer spells in Canada than our briefer falls in the UK 🙂 Thoroughly enjoyed your story as a whole – thank you.

  3. Erika Willaert

    The most compelling aspect of this author’s writing style is the subtlety of emotional landscape, those layers that connect her characters, by weaving the fabric that binds them to their past, to their present, to each other, with powerful images of family dynamic, in the context of post-holiday let down. The narrative is fueled by tangible sensory language and gentle evocation of memories that are at once accessible to every reader, yet refreshingly original. Her narrator notices and observes without judgment, is both the protagonist and the catalyst of the story’s action, who offers insight and humour in perfect balance.

  4. Sue Battle

    It’s April. Springtime, right? But the temperature has been dropping all day and the rain is getting cold enough to freeze. I run from the car to the house wishing I had worn my winter jacket today. I’m finally inside and warmer. Ahh it’s time. I log into commuterlit and settle back to immerse myself in a story. I have a cup of tea, and a blanket over my knees as I sink into my couch and I read. ‘Peaches’ by Corrie. A delicious title for a delicious read. It’s perfect! The story is wonderful. Wonderfully designed to raise my comfort level. To make me feel toasty warm and lazily happy with this wondrous day and providing a tantalizing almost here feeling of spring and summer on their way. Now, if only I had some pie. Just one slice. A small slice would be fine. A bite even. Checking my freezer…….

    What a talent you have.
    Sue.

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