Friday, August 22, 2008

Pies and Cowboys Falling In Love

Ann knelt beside the bed and kissed the cross on her night stand. She wrapped up in a worn housecoat and walked barefoot across the cold floor. The walls were still gray as the sun had not yet crept above the trees.

She opened the cabinets and took down flour, salt, and shortening. She sprinkled flour on the counter and smiled as the birds sang to each another outside. She'd throw something to them in a little bit.

She scooped out shortening with one hand and flour with the other. Ann squeezed them together and added handfuls of flour and more shortening until a large, soft ball was formed. She sprinkled a little salt and kept working at the dough. Her hands ached in the morning, but were strong from years of practice. The dough was soon as soft and smooth as baby's skin.

She rinsed her hands in the sink. The sun was bright and came in strong through the windows. Ann closed the blinds and took her rolling pin from the top drawer. She kept it in the bottom drawer for a long time, but as she got older, she baked more and more. She turned on the oven, allowing it time to heat up.

Two blue pie plates came down from beside the regular plates and were placed to the side. The rolling pin pushed into the dough. She sprinkled flour on the roller and turned the dough to spread it as far as she could. She took a knife from the dish drain and cut a large circle before delicately lifting it and placing it into a pie plate. She formed a ball from the remaining dough and went through the process again, until there was enough to fill the second dish.

From the refrigerator, she took out a large bowl of apples and pears. She waved off a pair of fruit flies and turned back to roll out another circle of dough. When it was thin enough, she cut it into perfect strips. Ann weaved them carefully atop each pie before neatly trimming the outside edges.

The oven was not quite ready. She collected the loose dough and carried it across the kitchen. She tossed the dough out the screen door, into the driveway. Two cardinals lighted down and made a quick breakfast of the tiny bits.

She ran water through the coffee maker and put two tea bags in a tall mug. The hot water steamed as she poured it on top of the tea. The gurgling of the coffee maker stopped and the house was quiet again. The birds still chattered outside, making their pretty songs.

Ann sat at the breakfast table. Most of it was covered with bins of buttons, old newspapers, and rinsed out bottles she had forgotten to put with the other recycling. She tried to be good at it, but could never remember what could be recycled and what couldn't. Her nephew, Jim, had shown her the symbols she could look for on the bottom of the bottles, but she never remembered to look.

It was Jim's birthday. He was coming home from college and her sister, Kathy, had invited everyone over. Jim liked pies better than cake. Kathy had never been much of a cook, so Ann made him two pies every year on his birthday. She always looked forward to it. Sometimes she made them for no reason at all. She loved making pies for people.

When she was younger, Ann was a quiet girl. She waited patiently, hoping a man would come along and ask her to marry. There had been a couple who had, but when they did, she was afraid she wouldn't make a good wife. She told them she couldn't marry them. She worked quietly at the furniture plant for twenty years, until it shut down. She never spent a penny more than what she needed to live on and what she could spare for the collection plate.

After the furniture factory closed, the church helped place her with a program for helping older members of the community with cooking, cleaning, and home assistance. She'd never been a big reader, but Mrs. Owens said she had a beautiful voice. Ann never thought her voice was beautiful, but she discovered she loved reading Mrs. Owens' books to her. They were mostly romance stories disguised as westerns. Zane Grey had been Mrs. Owen's favorite. She missed Mrs. Owens.

Ann's thoughts drifted back to the present. She got up and picked up one of the plates with a towel. Hot air billowed out as she opened the oven. She put in the first pie, then the second, and closed the door quickly. Her forehead beaded with sweat as she sat back down to her tea. She took a small sip and put it down. She was never good at drinking hot drinks. She always waited until there was no steam trailing off.

The smell of cinnamon and brown sugar filled the kitchen as the sun climbed higher in the sky. It would be good to see the family. Maybe she'd make a couple extra pies for Jim to take back to school.

Ann brushed away a wisp of hair that had fallen in front of her eyes. The birds darted in and out of the bushes outside. Ann let out a sigh and blew on the tea to cool it down. She was lonely, but would always have people to make pies for and books to read about cowboys falling in love.


kalisgirl said...

Do you bake, or did you have to research pies for this one? You sound like you know what you are talking about.

Douglas said...

I used to bake a lot...and my favorite thing to make was apple-pear pies! I haven't had a working oven in a few years, though. It's something I miss a lot.

kalisgirl said...

I see, well when you find an oven, feel free to drop a pie off for me at Best Buy.