Sheree waited until the boys left for golf. Then she took down her grandmother’s recipe book. She hadn’t baked since Peter was born. She’d stopped a lot of things. It had been as if she’d had nothing left. Back then she’d been too young, too stubborn, to admit she needed anything but rest. Seven years had drifted past.

Sheree soaked the fruit, then cranked it through the mincer. She mashed the mixture through her fingers, as she had when she’d come barely to her mother’s elbow. She used to bury her head in the apron and breath in deep to get the last of the aromas of spice markets and wine barrels.

Maybe if her mum hadn’t died while she’d been pregnant. The thought drifted in the way it often did, looking to entangle her in conjecture, to drag her into pointless pity. But this time she held it at bay.

She sifted, stirred, poured. When the last dollop of mix had settled she decorated the top with halved almonds then slid the tin into the oven. By the time the boys got back everything would be cleaned up and the house would be full again, of that warm smell and a joy that had been missing for too long.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (