August 1, 2014


But this was cruel! Not just unkind. Untrue. Jeanne's sisters thought nothing of themselves. Sylvia berated Lew all the way home to Weston. Helen stayed up late in Brookline, baking. Lemon squares, and brownies, pecan bars, apple cake, sandy almond cookies. Alone in her kitchen, she wrapped these offerings in waxed paper and froze them in tight-lipped containers.

Her husband, Charles, ventured, 'You should get some rest.'

What a thing to say!  How could anybody rest?  Helen had not pursued a career like Jeanne, the music teacher, or three successive husbands, like Sylvia. No, Helen had always been a homemaker. Now her family needed sustenance, so she doubled every recipe and froze half. After all, there would be a memorial service, and shivah afterward. Helen could already picture Jeanne's students descending with their parents. Sylvia hadn't baked in years because Lew was diabetic. As for Melanie and Andrea -- what would they throw together? A box of doughnut holes?  No. Helen has the baker of the family. What she felt could not be purchased. She grieved from scratch.
from 'Apple Cake,' by Allegra Goodman

I loved this short story from The New Yorker, recommended and shared on A Work in Progress (thank you, Danielle!).

{image from Janet Hill}


JoAnn said...

Those last two sentences are amazing. I let my subscription to The New Yorker expire last year. I could never keep up, but now I sort of miss it...

Cosy Books said...

You couldn't possibly read this short story without a cup of tea and something sweet to nibble on. Oh I do love to bake...

Glad to see that Janet's work hasn't escaped your notice, Audrey, it's so cheery!