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  You could have a big dipper   

Mary's Kitchen Lattice Apple Dazzler by Donald Ryan

The puff of heat and cinnamon surprises her though it shouldn’t as she opens the oven to remove the Mary’s Kitchen lattice Apple Dazzler seconds before the timer’s final reminder and places the baking sheet across the oven’s two eyes, bridging them, while reaching to silence what’s now done, when a glint of light from her new apartment’s lone living room window flickers through that one crooked blind, reminding her of old cartoon reruns, where steam rising pies would cool on window sills in the fresh, open air, and she wonders if she would put hers there, which she immediately dismisses because if animated truth be told this would only lead to chasing more tail, and quite frankly she’s had enough of those, for now, for now preferring to enjoy her pie alone, she thinks, at least to keep her mind from what she thought she finally wanted these last few weeks, so she removes the box from the top of the recycling bin and places it behind this pie she baked on her own—taking into consideration she did, technically, read the instructions, preheat the oven, open the box, slide it in, wait the recommended time, then remove it thus filling the vacant spaces of this new apartment with sweet spice and a Betty Crocker sense of accomplishment—and although she knew, she knew she shouldn’t, she compares the expectations of the glinting, golden brown promise with what is now before her in all its picture imperfectness, like the uneven, woven crust ranging from pallid tan to burnt toast and the now deflated concavity sinking in as if there’s no going back, as if unexpectedly saddened the box where it lived content for so long is no longer its home, “but at least it won’t taste like cardboard,” she doesn’t say, at least aloud, why bother, because she’s not convinced it won’t, and, seeing as there’s only one way to find out, she breaks off a pinch of crust along the edge and puts the specks she’s managed to hold to her lips but merely tastes her fingers, herself, on the surface, where she could pretend things are now as they should be, but not the pie which needs to be experienced, explored, dug into and critiqued, discover if expectations are as true as expectations claim to be, see if unpackaged is as honest as she hasn’t been, so she jabs two fingers into the bubbling filling, dips deeper, doesn’t withdraw as the pain surges up her arm, as if the sweltering sweet satisfaction is racing towards her tongue in the way her lies never could, and plunges to the bottom of the tin, allowing her hand to bend inward, past the ringed tan line now begging for sun, up past her knuckles, chunks of “real apples” bathed in goo filling her hand’s every empty dent and crevice as she watches steam wisp along her wrist, small, real blurs of yet fallen tears dam her eyes, and she wants to cry out, but yelling serves no justice, and her clenched teeth won’t allow it, good, shouldn’t allow it, isn’t worth it now her hand’s going numb anyhow, as if into this pain she can come alive, can justify cheating her way into this mess she’s made, she owns, she made on her own, engaging in all-nighters unbridled and toasted, not boxed-in with Charlette, physically and emotionally frozen, tasting in sugary drinks and on saccharin flings who she thought she wanted to be, this her unbrave end to those recent months distant within all the years married, so she rotates her hand, breaking through the net of crust, in control, burying and revealing herself in clenched and unclenched handfuls, soft and broiling and satisfying as the suction sounds break free from the filling, a “HA!” breaking free before she can stop herself, where she jumps from the sound of her own voice, surprised to land still on her feet, but pleased by her own sound’s clear resonance though the empty apartment, pleased by her ability to grip the viscous heat, pleased to lift her fist and squeeze the innards in glops onto the tray and tin and what was frozen to begin with, until she finally brings her fist to her lips like a moment of truth, first teasing her lips before tasting the pie she made, that’s right, this glorious mess is her making, hers and hers alone, and sure it’s not great, nor even that good, its worth rather in the sweet, sweet taste to satisfy a deeply lingering craving, so she drags her tongue along her reddened skin, kissing her wounds, and sits by the window to cool.


Donald Ryan [he/him] does library stuff. Hobart, Fiction Southeast, Back Patio, Silent Auctions, Daily Drunk, elsewhere. @dryanswords

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