by Michael Carter

Mother kept Denny downstairs when it was hot in the summer. He’d sleep better in the cool basement. That’s what she told him.

Sunday was her favorite day to cook. Her kitchen was always neat and tidy. She liked it that way. And with Denny downstairs, there was no one to mess it up.

Her cupboards were well-organized. In them, she had a collection of margarine containers. They were all washed, stacked, and formed into rows. She had over eighty. Eight rows of ten, and she was working on the next row. Yogurt containers were no good. They didn’t have reusable lids, so they were of no use for leftovers. Those were also rinsed and stacked, but placed in rows in the recycling bin instead.

The sink was spick-and-span. Not a crumb. The only blemishes were from drops of water that had dripped from inside the plastic sandwich bags, leaving tiny calcified circles on the stainless steel. The bags had been rinsed and placed upside down to dry over the pump soap dispenser, the sink spray nozzle, and sometimes the faucet itself. Why should a good sandwich bag be used only one time?

Her cooking utensils were clean, and her knives and kitchen shears sharp. There was a place for everything, and everything was in its place. The spice rack was her favorite nook of the kitchen. The spices and seasonings were aligned in alphabetical order, except for the salt and pepper. Those larger shakers wouldn’t fit on the rack.

Denny had asked for his favorite Sunday meal—mincemeat pie. She didn’t mind; it was easy. She had already bought the pre-made crusts, and everything else simply went in the blender. First, she diced apples and packed them into the bottom of the blender jar. Then she added the raisins, dried cherries, and figs. Some sugar, and then a little ginger to give it a bite. Orange zest followed, along with the spices. Then she poured in the brandy, took a shot for herself, and gave the mixture a quick stir. Finally, the beef suet and his finger, both chopped so they would blend well.

She pulsed the blender until it became a fine, pourable mixture. She pulsed it one more time for good measure, with a smile. Then she scooped the mincemeat into the crusts and baked the pies until golden brown.

She could hear Denny downstairs. Had the noise from the blender woken him up? Or was it the smell of mincemeat pie? The smell must have made it downstairs by now.

He’d like his pie. She used his favorite golden raisins this time, and an extra dash of sugar. He’d better like it, and he’d better not need another correction. If he didn’t behave, she could get creative. After all, he had nine fingers left.

Michael Carter ghostwrites in the legal profession, and he is tired of doing all of the work and getting none of the credit. He writes short fiction in an attempt to make some sense of the human disaster. He can be found at michaelcarter.ink.
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