brown sugar

I’m making an effort to write and post some different material on my blog in the coming months. This particular entry is a short work of fiction that I wrote for a creative writing class in college. Hope you enjoy!

Brown Sugar

The comfortable aroma of freshly baked bread cascaded into the air and fluttered through the tiny kitchen. Annabelle watched her mother from the bar stool she perched on, entranced. It was always a dance when Mama baked, a swirl of finely tuned, well-worn moves. All the ingredients were choreographed into a polished routine as she spun through the kitchen, adding pinches of this and that here and there, knowing exactly how to make it just right. She flipped the oven door open with ease, pulled a loaf of bread out and added a tray of cookies, pausing only to take in the sweet smell of a job well-done.

Annabelle thought Mama still looked much the same as she had the last time she had seen her five years ago. She still wore her old apron, the one reading “Sweets to the Sweet!” in faded pink letters, and her graying hair was coming loose from its usual haphazard up-do. She had a few more wrinkles and her eyes had grown dimmer, but Annabelle noted with pleasure that Mama’s smile always brightened whenever she looked at the child standing on the step stool next to her. Annabelle was glad she had come back.

The kitchen was a mess, as it always had been, but it was an organized chaos. A fine dusting of flour covered each counter, riddled with piles of dirty bowls, wooden spoons, and every ingredient imaginable. On the island in the center sat platters of the day’s endeavors: blackberry turnovers, cranberry ginger scones, six different varieties of bread, almond pistachio cookies, and Mama’s famous cheesecake swirl muffins. The only thing untouched was the extensive pile of cookbooks in the corner, gifts from friends who didn’t know Mama well enough to understand that she never used a recipe.

Annabelle munched on a scone absentmindedly while she followed Mama’s dance with her eyes. She had once been Mama’s apprentice, back when she was the fiery-haired, wide-eyed child balancing on the step stool in order to reach the top of the counter. She had loved any recipe that called for brown sugar, and she always requested that Mama let her pack it firmly into the measuring cup. She would watch it fall with a thud into the mixing bowl, maintaining its perfect shape, just like the sand castles Daddy would make on those days at the beach. And when the last batch of goodies was in the oven, Mama would put a white smudge of flour right on the tip of her freckled nose and bet her she couldn’t lick it off. She let the cat do it for her.

But these days Annabelle simply watched. She helped when asked ā€” checked the center of the white chocolate brownies or refilled the flour bin ā€” and sang along anytime Mama broke out into renditions of her favorite Cat Stevens songs, but she had moved on from the days when she would check the eggs for pieces of shell. She had grown up. Besides, Mama had a new helper now.

Annabelle looked down at the redheaded child who was now tugging at her skirt.

“Nana said we can lick the bowl!” she said, beaming. She handed Annabelle a mixing bowl filled with the last of the sticky cookie dough. Annabelle lifted the girl onto her lap and took a small taste of dough. “I added the brown sugar,” the child boasted as she scraped every last bit of dough out of the bowl with her tiny hands. Annabelle looked up and saw Mama grinning as she watched them.

“That must be why it’s so yummy,” Annabelle told her daughter. She pecked her on the cheek and smiled as she noticed the flour spot right on the tip of her nose.

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