Cookies, Cake and Pie

Cookies, Cake and Pie

The screams of delighted children fill the air. She sits up with the thought, Why am I sleeping in here? Seated upon a bed, to her right, a wall, the bed tucks away into a corner as she faces the one door in the room, and oddly enough, the door is made of glass with no curtain shielding her with privacy while she sleeps. The room, a mess, cluttered, clothes strewn about along with creepy little knick knacks she does not recognize, feels too large to be a bedroom. Wild sounds of many children playing, somewhere, penetrate her mind. Conscious now, she turns in the bed to search through the only window in the space. She’s not sure if “window” is the right word, since the “window” seems to be more like a glass portion of wall, from floor to ceiling, only slightly wider than the width of the bed. There, through the window, as she’ll remain to consider it for the time being, children play but not outside. Housed within a room with which her room presumably shares the wall that supports the window through which she looks into the adjacent room is filled with children, running, screaming, playing a sort of chase and freeze game. Kneeling now upon the bed, hands clutching the top of the headboard as she peers, confused, through the window at the playing children, one child spots her and runs toward the window. She sees and hears an adult’s muffled yell for the child. Rebellious, the child continues toward the window. Just as the child reaches a distance close enough to reach out and touch the glass, the child kicks the glass instead, laughs as she jumps a bit, and then bolts away toward the adult who called for the child only a moment earlier. She watches the children for an unknowable amount of time.

A person enters the room and breaks her transfixed state. The voice of the person registers immediately within her mind. No. She almost refuses to turn but to no avail, her mother moves to stand beside the bed, within her peripheral vision, she cannot refuse to see her mother standing there. “Attila,” the mother repeats; “Darling, you must return to your classes today. No one wants to cover your duties any longer. You’re putting undue tension upon the situation here.” Attila sits and faces her mother, head tilted down so as not to make eye contact. Confused still, Attila looks back toward the window that reveals the small children at play. The glass is but solid wall now. No longer feeling the feelings of confusion, Attila looks at her mother and states calmly, “Yes, mother.” The mother silently leaves. Immediately aware of this fold in reality that she’s experiencing, Attila rushes to get her bags packed.

Unsure of what items truly belong to her, she simply piles in a few of the things she believes she will need. As she stuffs piece after piece of clothing into a large duffel-type bag, another woman appears at the door. Friend or foe? The woman knocks on the door while glancing directly at Attila through the glass. She does not wish to open the door and so continues to gather some things. Helping herself into the room, the woman at the door cracks the door open, “Hey, Attila. I’m Ney Teacher. I was told to summon you for your cooking class with the attendant adults.” Attila bolts over her right shoulder to get a look at Ney. “What?” Ney begins to repeat herself, “You teach a cooking class that begins in a few minutes. I was told to fetch you.” “By whom?” “I’m sorry?” Ney asks, confused. “Who told you to get me?” Attila clarifies. “Manager Teacher,” Ney decidedly responds in truth. “Dammit,” Attila spits under her breath, and then speaks, “I’ll be right there.” “Okay, great. Thanks,” Ney confirms as the door closes. I cannot stay here, she thinks to herself, but she cannot imagine a way out. How did I even get here in the first place? One cannot travel without the other, and the probability that She ended up here is too small. How did this even happen? She decides that there’s nothing much else that she can do for the moment except to go along with however this goddamn day unfolds. But then she feels a sickening pain in the pit of her stomach. She begins to understand much about something she cannot quite understand. Uneasy, she grabs the bag she packed and resolves to go to the cooking classroom located somewhere she does not know. Fuck it, she thinks as she pushes the door to the room.

Her right hand crosses her body as she reaches for the handle of the door with that same right hand. As she opens the door, the door swings wide sweeping outwards and away from her through space as it creates a semi-circular motion allowing her to enter the new space. Immediately, she realizes that the door itself opens into some sort of industrial-type kitchen, large, rectangular, with three solid walls, the longest of which houses the door into the space through which Attila just walked, and its, the longest wall’s, parallel showcases a pattern of tall, slender windows broken by solid pillars that stretch the entire length of the wall. The wall of windows looks almost like the keys of a piano. Ah, this again, she perceives. She takes a deep breath, drops the bag to the left of the door as she enters so that it, the bag, may be easily grabbed upon her exit. Hands free now, she assesses the room filled with people she does not know, or maybe she does. The knowing eludes her at the moment. With only one thing pressing hard upon her mind, she knows that this time must pass quickly, as quickly as possible. She scans the faces for a superficial analysis, three women, who look like they’re related, tall, slender, blonde, and three ordinary-looking men, of various heights and widths. Couples? she wonders to herself.

Thus, she skips any sort of introductions, and begins, “What are we all learning today? Do any of you know, or was this class sold to you as a surprise?” The shortest of the three males is pale but attractive enough. He raises his hand but begins speaking before Attila acknowledges him, “We’re all under the impression that this is a class about how to make chocolate cake or some kind of dessert.” What the hell is this? she considers once more and not for the last time within only a moment.

“Very good,” Attila pretends while she searches for a clue. She manages to notice that she stands behind, what seems to be, an instructor’s setup and concludes that she must be standing in the right place. “Shall we begin?” she musters, and continues to scan the countertop, “Ah, yes, here are copies of the recipe we will be executing today.” Walking around the kitchen/classroom now, she hands each “student” a sheet with the recipe for, Who the hell knows, she mulls in her mind. One of the women raises her hand, “Ma’am. Aren’t you going to introduce yourself?” “It doesn’t matter,” Attila responds and then adds, “Call me whatever you’d like.” At this command, the widest of the three men pipes in, “This recipe’s called ‘Attila’s Fudge Fountain.’ Are you Attila?” “Like I said, it doesn’t matter, but if it makes you feel better to know who I am, then sure, consider me Attila,” Attila sighs as she makes her way back to the front of the kitchen-classroom. “Alright,” Attila begins; “let’s get started. Go ahead and read the ingredients aloud and make sure you recognize everything.” “Ma’am?” a different woman this time meekly asks. “Yes?” Attila attends. “Our recipe is not for cake. It’s some sort of pie?” “Oh,” Attila recognizes a twinge of some remembrance; “Yes, you are all making some different sort of dessert. So, go ahead and read the ingredients list, and then, if you know what everything is, go ahead and collect all of your necessary ingredients. Everything should be here within the kitchen. If you can’t find something, let me know. Ask a fellow classmate first, however. Begin.” The students, paired off into sets each including one male and one female, meander throughout the kitchen collecting everything they need to make whatever it is that’s named at the top of their recipe sheet.

Attila, uncertain and anxious, sits for a moment on the stool provided behind her instructor’s workstation. She feels the pull of herself against the air of time within the room. Slowly, the room begins to shift from its rectangular shape into a spherical dome. The students continue their task. Unknowing, Attila can hear the murmurs of the older woman but cannot hear what she says. Thus, she focuses her mind to see if she can read the older woman instead. Nothing. She is angry, Attila confesses. There’s someone else there now, too, but Attila cannot recognize the person. Harder now, Attila concentrates on the other presence, It couldn’t be. That would be impossible. And then the reality of her situation hits her again cold, Yes, of course, but then again, here I am. So then, what does the old man want now? Attila focuses in with all her might. Within the normalcy of the kitchen-classroom, Attila attends to the whims of the students.

After all of the students have their respective desserts in the oven for the allotted amount of time, they mingle amongst themselves, some even leave the room for a break. Eventually, Attila returns to the instructor’s counter and sits herself down upon the stool. After a short to medium amount of time ranging from a few minutes to more than a few minutes, Attila falls off the stool onto the ground. The two taller males rush toward her and try to wake her. Finally, Attila hears the words, The three have travelled together, but the one who remains arrived of his own volition. The old man, Attila immediately realizes, but then immediately remembers that this must be a fabrication for, I cannot know what she knows while she knows it. She wakes. Rectangular again, the room stretches itself back into its known state. Two males stand over her. “Are you alright, ma’am?” the taller of the two, although, really, they are basically the same height. “Yes,” Attila responds as she sits up; “I’m fine, thank you.” Refusing the help of the two males, she stands, repositions the stool, sits down upon the stool and returns her attention to the trite task at hand. “So, have you all gathered and collected your ingredients?” she asks as if nothing happened. “Are you sure you’re alright?” one of the women asks. “Yes,” Attila responds with a feigned smile; “I’m fine.” “Well, ma’am,” the same woman explains, “We’re all finished with making our desserts. Don’t you remember helping us? We’re just waiting for them to bake.” Attila takes this revelation in for a minute. “Ah, yes. Sorry,” Attila admits; “I must’ve bumped my head a little. Of course I remember. How much longer do your delicacies have left to bake?” The one woman who hasn’t spoken yet states, “Ours had the longest bake time, and we have about twenty minutes left.” “Great,” Attila states with an air that matches that of eye rolling. Once she hears the word leave her mouth, Attila clears her throat and attempts to mask her distractedness with a joyful tone, “Where are these delightful concoctions headed once they’re finished?” The students look at each other as if this lady’s crazy. Then, the woman who speaks the most answers, “Ma’am, we’re taking them all to the student banquet right after this class. Remember?” Frustrated and a little pissed, Attila rolls her lips into her mouth and gently bites down, “Yes, right, silly me.”

The first of the egg timers rings loudly and almost bounces off the respective students’ countertop. Attila feels the pull of her duties as the instructor and walks over to the oven belonging to the first set of students. “Ah, those look great,” Attila musters through a cheerful voice; “Gently remove them from the pan with a spatula and let them cool on the baking rack.” A few minutes later, the next egg timer rings loudly and almost bounces off the respective students’ countertop. The pang of repetition nauseates Attila. Nauseated, she takes a subtle, deep breath, walks toward the next oven. “Go ahead, open the oven. Grab a toothpick,” Attila instructs. The female of the couple grabs a toothpick. “Now,” Attila advises; “stick the toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done.” The female nods and enacts the instruction, “Clean,” the female states, excitedly and shows the toothpick to both Attila and the male. “Looks good, indeed. Grab the pan then and place it on the cooling rack,” Attila continues. “Once it’s cooled, you can pop it out of its pan and then place the cake itself on the cooling rack and glaze it with the ganache. You made the ganache, right?” Attila asks while looking around their countertop area for the proof. “Yes, it’s right here,” the male points out. “Excellent. You’ll probably have to wait another twenty minutes or so for everything to cool,” turning now to address all of the students, “You will all have to wait for everything to cool.” Attila points at the first couple, “You should be about ready now to frost those cookies,” and then she turns back to the cake couple, “You can set another timer or just wait.” Everyone nods in acknowledgement.

The third and final egg timer rings out. Attila’s stomach turns over. She almost hurls all over the second couple’s finished product. “Ma’am? Are you alright,” the same woman asks yet again. Attila waves a hand to abate the woman. Waiting patiently, the last couple stands, waits for Attila to instruct them. “Wait one more minute,” Attila instructs; “It’s an old baker’s secret. Do you have the melted butter ready?” The male and female who made the dessert both nod in unison, “Yes, ma’am.” A minute later, “Okay. Pull it out now, gently. Golden brown?” “I’d say so,” the male of the set confirms. “Perfect. Set the pan on the counter and then place just the pie pan on the cooling rack,” Attila instructs. The couple complies. “Excellent,” Attila congratulates; “Now, with the pastry brush, while it’s still hot, brush some melted butter on the edge of the crust.” Again, the couple follows the instructions enthusiastically. Once the couple finishes slathering their dessert in even more butter, all of the students wait and impatiently look at their delicacies for the final instruction. “Okay, now you all need to find an appropriate serving dish or platter for your respective desserts, and then I guess we’ll all just walk to wherever the banquet’s happening together,” Attila states aloud to the entire class. The students murmur back and to each other as they figure out the best way to transport their goods.