What’s in a Pie?– a short, short story

Woman taking a pie out of the oven

Welcome to Brighton Bits, short short stories about the people, places and things in and around the fictional village of Brighton, New Hampshire. What’s in a pie? Could it be redemption for a lonely teenage girl?

What’s in a Pie?

For thirteen-year-old Maeve, having her grandmother move into the apartment attached to her parents’ home, was a godsend. Her grandmother’s little kitchen gave her a place of refuge. She would climb there after a hard day at school. And there were a lot of hard days. Grandma Carpenter would knit or bake, and Maeve would talk.

This day had proved particularly hard. She got into a fight with C.C. Boone and, of course, everybody took C.C.’s side. There she was in her ugly clothes, her glasses and her angelic face—the teachers’ pet. No, C.C. could never have said what Maeve said she had.

Grandma sat her down with a plate of chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk. “That’s quite a shiner you have.”

Maeve shrugged and focused on deciphering the nutty taste of the cookie around the chocolate chips.

Grandma waited, her knotty finger joints working slower than usual around the yarn.

“C.C. called me a loser and a bunch of other bad names.” And she’d looked so smug that Maeve had no choice but to wipe that expression off her face, especially because Maeve did feel like a loser, and C.C.’s taunts had hit too close to her tender skin. Which got her hauled to the principal’s office.

The black eye? Well, she’d done that to herself when she stormed out of the office after being suspended for three days. She’d punched the secretary’s coat tree on her way out, and it had socked her back in the face with one of its fat wooden knobs meant to hang a coat.

That all happened before first bell. Patrick had cornered her as she’d come out of the principal’s office. “Let’s get out of this place.”

And she was more than happy to follow him.

“Let’s go to the beach,” Patrick said, slipping his hand into hers.

The beach was one of her favorite places. “We don’t have a car.”

His smile curled up one side of his face. “Let’s borrow one.”

Maeve thought of her father’s car, parked doing nothing most days. She found the spare key in the junk drawer in the kitchen. Technically, she was too young to drive and didn’t know how. Technically, so was Patrick but that didn’t stop him. He took the key from her. “Let me.”

They’d driven down to Hampton Beach, eaten three-scoop ice cream cones and frolicked in the icy waves. They’d laughed until she felt light and free and so much better. At three, they headed home so her father wouldn’t miss his car.

But along I-93, a state trooper had pulled them over. Apparently, her father had reported the car stolen. And apparently, driving without a license was frowned upon.

“I hear I’ll have the pleasure of your company for a few days,” Grandma said, storing her knitting project into the green bag with the golden Celtic knot.

Maeve knew she shouldn’t but smiled anyway. If the principal thought spending three days with Grandma as punishment, he got it wrong. She’d much rather be here than at school any day.

“You’re a smart girl, Maeve.”

Tears stung Maeve’s eyes and she blinked hard and fast. “You’re the only person who thinks so.”

“But you’re heading down a treacherous path.” As she spoke, she gathered flour, butter, sugar, apples and cinnamon.

“But, Grams, everybody picks on me. I don’t have any friends. Except for Patrick.”

She waved Maeve over to the counter. “You have so much heart and spirit, my dear girl. Let’s channel that energy into something useful. Everybody loves baked goods, especially pie.”

Maeve couldn’t really see how pie would solve her problems, but she glowed under Grandma’s attention. She taught Maeve how to make crust, how to roll it out with her ancient rolling pin, how to cook the filling until it was fragrant and sweet, how to cut and crimp and bake the half moons until they turned golden brown.

Maeve found herself relaxing in a way she never had before. As she sampled one of her hand pies, she leaned her head against her grandmother’s soft shoulder, poured all her love into her, which Grandma returned in a heartbeat.

Turned out, Grandma was right about the pies…and about Maeve.

Want more?

If you want to read more about Brighton, pick up a copy of Christmas by Candlelight , Christmas in Brighton and Summer’s Sweet Spot, or the new cozy mystery, Of Books and Bones. Or sign up for my newsletter.

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3 Comments

  1. I really like the short short stories that meld with your Brighton Village series. They are like behind-the-scenes snippets that make me believe this is a real place that I want to visit again and again.💜🥧

  2. Joanne–I’m so glad you’re enjoying these short stories. They’ve been fun to write. And, yes, Brighton feels real to me :-).

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