Cooking Up A Storm (Part 2)

Midnight was meowing behind the front door when I got back. I unlocked and opened it to scoop him up. Burying my face in his warm black fur, I tried to hold my tears in. I closed the door with my foot and sat on the sofa. I rubbed the cat against my cheeks and made soft meowing noises back. Midnight, strangely a big fan of cuddles for a young male cat, demand more.

‘Did you miss me? Yeah, you did. You eat all your food? Good kitty,’ I baby talked.

He gave me a string of meows then fell into purring and curling into ball in my lap. I stroked him and watched him dozing off. The warm and content feelings jostled with my sad ones and I did wipe the corners of my eyes.

‘He just had to bring her up,’ I told Midnight, ‘I know I shouldn’t complain. It’s still important to talk about her, but today? No. I don’t want to think about it.’

My phone ring and I scrambled to find it in my bag whilst trying not to disturb Midnight.

‘Hello?’

‘Becks, hey! Is your car okay? When you coming over?’ Dawn’s excited and rushed voice shouted in my ear.

‘Car’s fine. What time did I say? Five or six?’ I answered.

‘It’s quarter to now,’ Dawn responded then began speaking to someone else in the background.

‘It is? Oh. I still need to ice the gingerbreads. Everything else is ready though. So, six then.’

‘Can’t you come now, please?’

I petted Midnight as a long hum escaped my pursed lips.

‘We need to set up the table then get ready and that’s going to take a while. I need to wash my hair still and Amber just found out she can’t get into her costume.’

‘It’s baby weight!’ Amber’s voice yelled back followed by bursting girly laughter.

‘I can’t,’ Becks pressed, ‘if you want them to look right, I just can’t. And there’s no way I’d want to rush them after all my hard work.’

Dawn signed heavily down the phone then whispered to someone else, ‘she can’t get here for another hour.’

‘Look. I’m about to do them now, so I’ll just set the table when I get there. Okay?’

‘All right, please try to hurry though,’ Dawn said back unable to hide the disappointed tone.

‘I’ll try. Bye.

‘Bye, Becks. She says an hour. I’m going to wash my hair…’

I hung up, then moving Midnight off my lap, went into the kitchen. The heavy smell of ginger, cinnamon and toffee blasted all other smells away. I checked the toffee apples and finding them set, moved them on to the table with the collection of other things. Then I put all the gingerbread shapes on one plate and prepared the icing.

‘It’s too silent, I mumbled.

Finishing off the icing, I went and turned the TV on. Midnight jumped up on the coffee table, tail swinging and watched me channel flicking. There wasn’t much on, so I put the news on and went back to the kitchen. Feeling better, I sorted out the icing for colouring, then got piping the designs on the biscuits.

I didn’t need any inspiration or drawings, I had been making these gingerbreads for the last five weeks. With the news reporters droning on in the background, my hands worked by themselves and I began thinking again. My dad had been right about my mum. Tonight had been her favourite out of the whole year, just like it was mine. She would spend the whole of October planning and preparing. Sometimes, especially as I got older, she’d call me in to help make cakes or muffins or something that involved pumpkins.

I felt my chest get a little tight, but instead of stopping I thought it best just to go on thinking about her. She was never a ‘normal’ mother or wife, being a white witch saw to that and yet, she manged to embrace everything and make it happen. That’s what my dad was talking about before.

Almost an hour later, I was done with the forty gingerbreads. Leaving them to officially set, I wrapped up each toffee apple in black Halloween foil finished with a bit of ribbon and put them in a carry bag. Digging out my notebook, I ticked them and the biscuits off.

‘So, now I get it all into the car, grab my suitcase, put food down for Midnight then it’s party time!’

Midnight meowed at his name, but didn’t appear, which meant something on the TV had his attention. I put some more food in his bowl, topped up his water, then picking up my notebook again, ran through the list once more; ‘pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, Halloween cookies, lemon cheese cake spider web, Halloween cupcakes, Graveyard mud moose pie, toffee apples and gingerbreads. Yep, all done. Okay, to the car.’

I grabbed a large bag from the table, which had the cookies, cheese cake and muffins carefully boxed up inside and headed to the front door. I got my keys from my handbag on the way and went out to the car. I spent a good few minutes, carrying stuff out and storing it as carefully as possible in the boot and backseat.

Midnight tore himself away from the TV to watch me. Finally sorted, I locked the car and hurried upstairs. Taking my small suitcase -thankful I packed my clothes and personal stuff last night- from the corner and going back down again. I nudged Midnight out the door and hurried to the car. Ignoring his howl of unhappiness, I put my suitcase on the passenger seat.

‘Done. Everything. Good. Front door. Midnight, what are doing? Are you in or out, kitty? Aww, I’m sorry.’

I picked him up and Midnight tried to climb on to my shoulders.

‘I’m sorry you can’t come. Oh! The TV.’

I darted back inside, putting Midnight on the sofa and turned it off. Then remembering, I hadn’t closed any curtains or checked the windows or the back door, ran around the house doing that.

‘I’m good now. Bye, Midnight.’

He gave me a long mournful meow, like a toddler who didn’t want to be left. I waved good bye to him all the same and locked the front door. Getting into Herbs was like stepping back into the kitchen. The car smelt of warm spices, pumpkin and other sweet delights. I checked the time and then my phone. Dawn’s house was half an hour away and it was five past six.

I texted her then drove off, the excitement of the party finally hitting me.

To Be Continued…

Cooking Up A Storm (Part 1)

The small square kitchen breathed of sugar and spice sweetness, which was my favourite scent. Though only just, as I loved the aroma of damp, earthy leaves and trees on a crisp mid-autumn morning, the most. Twirling the golden toffee around the last of the red apples, I hummed along to the Monster Mash. My body and feet moved in time with the beat, my slippers slapping. I stopped my hands to ease the toffee and apple apart. The strands snapped and I beheld my creation.

Glistening like gold under the kitchen lights, I set the toffee apple down on pale blue side plate that was cover in hard yellow sugar glops. Checking the pan, I saw there was just enough left to get a second coating. Glancing to the right at the almost ready toffee apples, I went to the oven behind me and peered in at my last lot Halloween gingerbreads.

The timer went off. Grabbing gloves, I opened the door and pulled the tray out. The smell of hot ginger and cinnamon biscuit dough hit in the face. Smiling, I put the tray in the only gap left on the work top and inspected the different shape gingerbreads. There were three bats, two spiders, two witches on broomsticks and three ghosts.

‘They turned out pretty good, better than the last three lots,’ I said.

Letting them cool, I second dipped the last apple and sang along to the Time Warp. Setting the apple with the others, a soft meowing tickled my ears. I looked over at the back door and cat flap as my small black cat, Midnight, popped through.

‘Hi, kitty!’ I called.

Midnight looked up at me with large green eyes and meowled loudly.

‘You hungry? Where you been, huh? I missed you this morning.’

Midnight responded with a few mews.

I moved and got him some food. He curled around my legs, rubbing his head against my jeans. As soon as his bowl was filled he lowered himself over it and began eating nosily. Leaving him to it, I tided up and filled the dishwasher for the third time. My IPod cycled through some more Halloween themed music and I joined in with the lyrics I knew.

Washing my hands and slipping off my apron, I searched around the kitchen for my phone. Finding it on the little wooden table, I pulled out a chair and pressed it on. It was almost four PM and I had two text messages. The first was from my dad, telling me he had fixed my poor Mini car, Herbs, and the second was my best friend, Dawn, checking how I was getting on. I replied back to her first, letting her know in shorthand that everything was fine and there’d be enough sweet dishes for the party tonight.

I called my dad, ‘hi. I just got your text. Sorry I was in the middle of making toffee apples.’

‘Hello. Oh, okay, that’s fine,’ his soft fatherly voice spoke.

‘So, can I come and get Herbs?’

‘Yeah. He seems to be running fine again now. Are you going to come in the next hour? Just I was going to go out and pick up that cooker for Mrs Dwight.’

‘I can do that. Then I’ll have time to load him up too. I’ve baked too much….’

My dad laughed, ‘send some of it my way.’

‘I shall do. I’m on my way then.’

‘See you soon.’

‘bye.’

I hung up and stepping into the tiny corridor that joined the kitchen, living room and stairs together. Going up and into the first room on the right, I dusted my jeans off and dug another purple t-shirt out from the draw. Switching tops, I put on my dolly shoes and grabbed a purple knitted jacket. I crossed back over the stairs and around into the bathroom. Double checking my chestnut hair and face for flour etc, in the mirror, I let down my hair and put it back up in a neater ponytail. I also add a touch of pink lip balm.

Looking back at myself, I muttered, ‘you’re working too hard, Becks. Those bags are getting bigger and your cheeks are too red.’

I poked my face and debated putting up some makeup.

‘No. No time. Got to get Herbs and then ice those cookies.’

Going downstairs again, I saw Midnight looking up at me as if he was waiting to hear where I was going. I petted him, told him I’d be back soon and to eat the rest of his food. He meowed loudly and stayed put, as I grabbed my bag and left.

Outside a chilly breeze was brushing against the windows and playing lazily with fallen leaves. I walked with my back to it, taking in deep breaths of the wonderfully smelling air. I heard children laughing and talking loudly from a back garden across the road. Crows and other birds called from the rooftops and I couldn’t help but think that it really did feel like Halloween today.

I walked the twenty minutes to my dad’s house and got that nice familiar ‘home’ feeling. My dad was standing between his car and mine, leaning against the sky blue gate. He was checking his phone and sensing he was about to call or text me, I called out a loud hello and hurried over.

‘I’m here. Sorry had to change tops,’ I explained.

‘It’s fine. The brakes are fixed now. Here’s your keys,’ he said and passed them to me.

‘Thanks, so much. I’ll bring the leftovers tomorrow and we can have a post- Halloween party,’ I suggested.

Dad shook his head, ‘you be safe tonight okay? You mother had a bad habit of spell casting and mixing potions on this night….’

A bit my lip and looked down as my thoughts rose up about mum.

‘Seems you’re too busy with your baking right now to bother with all of that again. The shop still going good? Money alright?’

I nodded, ‘yes. It’s all good and under control. We’re planning Christmas stuff now. You should call by sometime.’

‘Maybe, maybe. I should go.’

‘Oh, okay, thanks again. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

We hugged, kissed cheeks then got into our cars. I waved to him and let him drive off first. I drove home, my thoughts still on mum.

To Be Continued…