Lemon Meringue Pie | Tru

In a quaint little cottage in the middle of the woods lived Margery, and Margery was a witch. She was an old crone, like most witches, but she preferred to dye her dark hair strawberry blonde and wear it up in sweet curls. She wore flowery dresses of red begonias and carnations. Her cottage was full of springtime daffodils and snowdrops and the sun shone through the windows just right. It was altogether very pleasant and you’d be forgiven for thinking Margery wasn’t a witch at all.

Today was a day like most others. The birds twittered outside. The daisies grew tall in the warm light. And inside, Margery began her chores. Like most witches, she owned a rather large cauldron, the centre piece of her cottage. But, unlike her sisters and aunts, who used their magicks for ill will, Margery cooked delightful recipes instead of potions of doom. Indeed, her favourite recipes were fruit pies and cakes. Her strawberry and vanilla cupcakes were the delight of the cute little urchins that would skip past her cottage. Every morning, she whipped up a batch and left them to cool on the windowsill. And every afternoon they were gone, snatched by tiny little fingers.

Margery loved this, because she loved sweet children, but she also grew tired of the same routine. She wasn’t getting any younger so it was time to perfect the ultimate culinary spell.

A lemon meringue pie.

Sadly, the climate of her perfect woods did not produce lemon trees. Instead, Margery rummaged through her bookshelf and found the Tiny Little Book of Unholy Summoning. Being a witch had its uses when it came to ingredient shopping.

Margery adjusted her half-moon spectacles and traced over the correct summoning spell. Clearing her throat, she spoke the words.

“Bippity boppity bee, summon a lemon just for me.”

The sky outside turned dark and a storm gathered. Lightning struck a tree and rain lashed the fragile cottage windows, rattling them with gusto. Smoke gathered inside and Margery coughed.

Red eyes glowed from inside the ominous smoke. A giant claw-like foot slammed into the patterned rug, followed by another. Margery blinked as a giant demon filled her cottage. It’s giant bat wings spread the entire length and the horns of its bulbous head scraped the thatched roof.

“YOU SUMMON ME WITCH?”

Margery wiped her spectacles. “Oh my.” She wafted the smoke away and studied her spell book. “Well this is no good. I was trying to summon a lemon, dear, for my pie. Well, my eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be—”

The demon snatched the book. It looked miniscule in his claws. “YOU SUMMONED A DEMON, WITCH. LOOK HERE, ON PAGE FIFTY-TWO, IT SAYS DEMON.”

“Oh, I am so sorry my dear, I didn’t mean to disturb you. Can you get back home safely?”

The demon considered her. “I AM NOW BOUND TO THIS MORTAL REALM TO FULFIL YOUR DESIRE. WHAT IS YOUR DESIRE?”

“I’m half-way through this lemon meringue. Can you be a dear and summon some lemons?”

“I AM THE DESTROYER OF ALL THINGS. THIS TASK IS TRIFLING TO—”

“No, dear, we’re not baking a trifle today,” Margery chuckled and strode into the kitchen. She picked up a spare apron and handed it to the demon. “You summon the lemons and I’ll prepare the pie crust, dear.”

The demon stared with its bloodshot eyes and held up the apron. It shrugged, and wrapped it around its neck. Together they worked through the recipe. The demon used its fire breath to boil the cauldron to the correct heat, and used its superior strength to whip the egg whites.

“LOOK AT HOW STIFF THESE PEAKS ARE, MARGERY, I THINK IT’S READY NOW.”

Margery hummed as she pottered around the kitchen. “Just one final ingredient, I think.”

The demon examined the recipe book. “HRM, NO MARGERY, I DON’T THINK WE’RE MISSING ANYTHING. DID YOU NEED MORE SUGAR?”

Margery tapped her nose. She stepped into her pantry and returned with a small box full of fingers. Small little fingers belonging to thieving little children. “These are sweet enough, dear.”

The demon peered over her shoulder and nodded his approval. “I THINK YOU’RE MY FAVOURITE, MARGERY.”

Margery smiled. She was a witch, after all.

No Umbrella | Dr Good Vibes

Natasha woke up early on Saturday, rushed her breakfast (eggies on toast), pulled on her coat, ran up the stairs to give Billy a kiss goodbye, ran back down the stairs, and slammed headlong into disappointment. Heavy rain dampened the grey light of morning. She wanted to walk to the pond and pet the fish, but even the sun seemed soaked.

Where’d Billy put the umbrella? she thought. The stand next to the front door was empty. She tromped up the stairs, went into the bedroom, and dropped next to Billy’s legs. The bed squeaked but he didn’t wake up. She rapped his bony shin with a knuckle and he blinked at her.

“Whad id it?”

“Where’d ya put the umbrella?”

“Id broke.”

Nat stared out the window. A field of moisture blocked the yard and even the sunflowers looked miserable, all wet and slumped over. Billy wrapped himself deeper in the blankets and started to snore.

Nat trudged back down the stairs. She sat on the bottom step and stared out at the downpour. The pond fish needed a little affection, the lovely creatures. They were so cute too, looking surprised all the time with o-shaped mouths, and their scales glittered with such darling colours.

Nat threw open the door and looked out at all the wet. The droplets made puddles on the sidewalk, certain to sog up socks. Every step would squelch and the ground would be slippery. Worst of all, once the wet seeped into her clothes she’d never be warm again. Well, she might warm up with some hot chocolate, but she’d probably need two cups. I just gotta brave it, Nat thought, because I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining.

She pulled on Billy’s big gum boots and raised her hood while keeping an eye on the rain in case it did anything shifty. Fully equipped, she plodded down the steps and faced the elements. The rain drummed against her hood and she actually felt pretty warm and comfortable in all her gear.

Nat stepped carefully so puddles wouldn’t splash up inside Billy’s big ole boots. Before long she crested the hill. The park and the fish pond waited ahead. She stopped and looked around. Coated in a layer of mist, the pond and park seemed more mystical than normal.

The mud bubbled beneath her boots as she marched down the hill. A patch of grass came loose and her heel shot out beneath her like she stepped on a bar of soap. Throwing out her arms lessened the impact of the fall but she still sank into the wet ground, and she felt liquid sneaking inside her gear.

Nat stood and held up her palms. They were caked with mud, decorated with blades of grass. The rain tricked her into getting comfortable and that’s when it got her. She let the rain clean her muddy palms before wiping on her jacket.

Maybe I should go home, she thought, but the pond was so close and it looked so nice in the rain. Her boots sank into the mud at the pool’s edge and she paid little attention to the cold wet dripping down the back of her pants. The water rippled as the fish swam close, poking their faces through the surface to gawk at her. Nat gawked back and reached out to pet a friendly red one. Usually she’d get down on her knees to pet the fish, but the ground was all wet, so she kept her feet and stretched out her hand. A fish jumped out of the pond and splashed back down. She was so surprised that one of her feet slipped out of a big boot and she tumbled head first into the pond.

She righted herself and sat in the water for a minute, soaking in the wet cold. Looking around nervously, she hoped that no one saw. There was no one around except the fish and they swam towards her, poking curious faces out of the water. She giggled as a fish nuzzled her hand with it’s snout.

“I didn’t know you can jump,” she said. A wonder when she considered it. She’d been coming to the pond for years, and the fish didn’t even have legs. Nat stroked the fat belly of a fish with a beautiful sapphire coat. The rain might be a wet, cold bother, but it wasn’t so bad. The fish only jumped when it rained.

 

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head – B.J. Thomas

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hziG9Nr6KHU

Sassafras | Articous

Three feet tall, the sapling sat in the back seat of my car, it barely came up to the headrest. A few leaves were flattened against the back of the seat and I bit my lip to keep from crying.

It’s just a tree.

I drove uncharacteristically slow to Mom’s house. If a single leaf fell off, I might lose it.

With everyone being out of town, I figured this was the perfect opportunity. She’d talked about it enough.

The hole was easy to dig. I placed it a bit away from the bonfire pit, to leave room for growth and, hopefully, one day years from now, cast some shade over the wicker benches.

I swallowed hard as I shook the sapling out of the plastic bin which had housed it before I decided to offer it a larger home. The delicate roots stuck out, and it smelled and looked exactly as I had recalled from nineteen years ago.

Heavy swashes of tears started falling as I cradled the roots. Memories washed over me, as painful as they were warm. Paw-Paw had taught me how to search for sassafras leaves in the woods behind his home. I was always with him. I remember his voice, his cigarette smell, his dirty fingernails, and both of us scraping away at the dirt together to dig up a few roots from a sassafras sapling.

Tomorrow was show and tell, and he told me he was going to teach me how to make home-made root beer. The whole class would be impressed, and I would learn something I could pass on to my children one day, he had said. I am still able to smile when I recall the look on everyone’s face as they took a big swig, and I then explained how I had made the root beer from digging it out of the ground the night before. In their defense, the bits of tree roots floating in their cups did look like bits of bugs.

I drank two cups.

I recalled a different memory of him with each shovelful of dirt onto the small hole, each one as meaningful as the last. Catching bullfrogs, making up fantastical bedtime stories, baiting hooks, reading trails, gardening, and everything else I would need to live like he did. I envisioned the roots stretching out and twining around each other beneath my feet, just as his memories twined around my heart.

If Dad had taught me how to be a respectable adult, Paw-Paw had taught me how to be a child.

Finished, I sat down and stared at the sapling. My worst fear was that it wouldn’t survive here, this memory would die again, and Mom would cry more than she had a year ago.

Please grow for me, I whispered.

I spent two weeks carefully watering and preventing any ant mounds from developing nearby the sapling while waiting for Mom to come back from vacation. I was prepared for a dramatic show of sobbing, forced uncomfortable hugging, and prodding for me to share my favorite memories of Paw-Paw, which I despised. They were my personal treasures, and it felt like every time I shared them, they returned to me a little more tarnished.

The birthday gift reception went exactly as expected, with her touching the leaves and miniature trunk so much, I was worried she’d break it. His loss had affected her deeply. When I hear her still weeping so strongly, fighting the depressive clutch of alcohol, and mourning even a year later, I shudder to think of what I will feel when she or Dad passes on.

I’ll probably handle it as selfishly as I have Paw-Pa. I tried platitudes for a while, explaining how spring is the best time to plant the tree, the development of the tap root system, how the dried leaves can be used as a Cajun seasoning, and the physical reminder that Paw-Paw is still here for her.

Mom said she needed to go to the restroom to get a grip on herself. Hopefully not take a shot.

The leaves were so bright and lively, just as he was for the last few days of still being himself before his memories were eaten away from cancer. A skeleton, but still my Paw-Paw, joking and telling me on his last good day, how proud he was of me and the woman I had become.

Please, grow for me, I whispered again.

 

Grow for Me – Little Shop of Horrors

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3qiMfiAH98

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star | Tru

Little Charlie’s soft cries were muffled against Lucie’s breast. She patted his back and hushed soothing words, rocking him back and forth like his daddy used to. Maintaining a routine during all the turmoil outside hadn’t been easy. But it was the only technique Lucie knew to navigate change and cling on to some form of control when everything else fell apart. The same techniques helped her survive her parents divorce, medical school, graduation, getting married, buying a house, preparing for Charlie’s arrival… her own divorce.

She didn’t think it would help now. No one had control anymore. But it was all she had.

She fed Charlie as usual, same time. She changed his diaper and burped him. She carried him upstairs and lay him under his star mobile as he settled into a peaceful slumber. The mobile twirled, the gentle hum began, and the stars danced across the ceiling to scare away the shadows of night.

Lucie leant over the cot and caressed his cheek. “Twinkle twinkle, little star. How we wonder what you are.”

Outside, the shouts continued. Families fought one another, arguing to gain that semblance of control. Car doors slammed, horns beeped, windows smashed. Thankfully, the bulk of the mobs had moved into the city centre. No one cared to loot a small suburban corner.

Charlie moaned, roused by the noise. She smiled despite it all. “Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky.”

The church bells tolled for evening mass. Charlie stared, his ears twitching at the familiar sound. But he did not cry. Brave little soldier he was. His grandma had called round hours before and begged to take him to mass. To huddle together with the community and pray for a miracle. But no God would answer them, and no building would withstand the falling diamonds.

“When the glorious sun has set, and the grass with dew is wet, then you show your little light.” She smoothed a curl of hair from Charlie’s forehead. He had his daddy’s hair, his daddy’s eyes. But not his daddy’s heart.

“Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.” She’d tried to call him, before the phone lines went down. She’d even tried to drive to his place, but the roads were jammed with desperate souls fleeing to anywhere. She glanced to the newspaper dated two days ago lying on a stool. The last paper to be printed. The headline bold, dramatic: NOWHERE IS SAFE. Even the cable TV switched to a permanent emergency broadcast with no useful advice other than to stay put and await the inevitable. If Charlie’s daddy had any sense, he’d drown himself in ale, like he used to, and numb himself to the world and its troubles.

The night warmed. Too warm for a November evening. They had run out of time. Lucie sighed and stretched. She strode to the dresser and prepared Charlie’s cough medicine. The hospital pharmacy had been ransacked days ago, but Lucie kept a medicine cabinet well stocked with a few choice supplies at home. She prepared her own concoction and added it to a glass of red wine.

Charlie giggled as she returned to his side and crooned. “When the golden sun doth rise, fills with shining light the skies.” She leant over his cot and kissed his forehead. Her fingers trembled as she lifted him up and fed spoonfuls of cough medicine.

“Then you fade away from sight, shine no more ‘till comes the night.” Charlie’s eyes fluttered. She kissed him once more. “Sleep now and don’t ever wake up.”

Outside, the sky burned red. She leant back and sipped wine the same colour. She couldn’t cry. Never could. Her own sense of control wouldn’t break now.

Not when diamonds fell from the sky.