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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)

TITLE: Key Lime Conclusion
By Karen Wilber


Some things are impossible without divine intervention: a virgin can’t bear a child, a man can’t rise from the dead, and you can’t sneak a slice from an uncut pie--without leaving evidence.

Lori and I studied that pie like two opponents contemplating a difficult move on a chessboard. Its yellow filling shimmered--the surface a smooth custard lake surrounded by a graham cracker shore. Aunt Catherine was at the sink, curling lime garnish to arrange on the pie. Soon, each curl would kneel reverently, awaiting the slice of a dessert knife.

Some recipes are a symphony with full orchestra; others, a choral cantata. Key Lime Pie is a song played with a few simple instruments: a creamy, sweet melody harmonized by its tart counterpoint. Aunt Catherine played beautifully.

This particular pie was destined for the church dessert auction. Some determined man with deep pockets would emerge victorious with this trophy. We’d never get a taste.

“Get away from that pie.”

“We should taste it to make sure it’s good.”

“It’s good. Now get away.”

Mom had dropped us off that morning while she did her shopping. Catherine pressed us into service creating this masterpiece.

“Betsy, go pick some limes.”

Every yard on the block had citrus trees. It was an unspoken agreement that neighbors could pick freely. There was only one Key Lime tree on the block and it lived next door. I carefully avoided its thorns as I plucked the small, greenish-yellow fruit.

“Lori, crush the graham crackers.”

Aunt Catherine added melted butter and sugar, combining the trio into a crust which she pressed into a pie pan. I watched her hands, firm and smooth, coax the crust into place. Mom always removed her rings before baking. It occurred to me that Catherine never did; her hands were unadorned.

“Aunt Catherine, why aren’t you married?” It was the kind of question Mom would have silenced with a look, but here the rules were different.

“God just hasn’t led me to the right man yet. Maybe someday. Now, juice those limes.”

While Aunt Catherine baked the crust, I prepared the lime juice and zest. Lori’s touch was suited for separating the egg yolks from the whites, which were saved. Catherine opened the can of sweetened condensed milk and retrieved the mixer from its shelf.

Maybe someday. I studied her again. She’d always just been my aunt. I never thought of her as a woman who might someday get married. She pushed a strand of blonde hair behind one ear. Her eyes crinkled as she laughed at Lori’s attempt to break an egg one-handed. She’s pretty.

Aunt Catherine beat the yolks and zest until fluffy. Lori added the milk while I finished juicing. My mouth watered as the tart tang of lime tweaked my nose. I stirred the juice into the mixture and the filling was ready to pour into its golden shell. We baked the pie, then placed it into the refrigerator to cool.

Later, as we girls sat staring at the now chilled, perfect pie, our schemes for stealing a taste were interrupted by a ringing phone. “Hello?...Hi Leigh...Yes, it’s cooling...Who?...You’re not trying to set me up again, are you?...I don’t know...Well, OK...I’ll bring the girls.” Blushing, Catherine replaced the receiver. “Your mom says she’ll meet us there.”

“What am I bid for this delicious Key Lime Pie, baked by the lovely Catherine Parrish?”

The bidding intensified as a chorus of voices clamored to be heard in the fellowship hall. Ten dollars became twenty; fifty became one hundred. We craned our necks to see the baritone who kept upping the bids.

“Sold for one hundred fifty dollars!”

The congregation roared its approval as a dark-haired man rushed to the front of the hall to claim his prize. After the auction, mom waved him over to our table. “Frank, meet my sister, Catherine.”

Frank set down his pie and tentatively offered his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“I hope you enjoy your pie.”

“I’m sure I will. Um, what I really wanted was to meet the baker.”

Lori and I closed ranks around our aunt. Who was this guy? The pie--our pie--sat unnoticed by everyone but us. Who was he to take our pie away? We didn’t even know him. And why was he looking all dreamy at Aunt Catherine?

“Oh, I’m being rude. Would you girls like some of this pie? Help yourselves.”

He had potential.


Author’s Note: Key Lime Pie originated in the Florida Keys during the days before refrigeration. Early settlers used canned milk, since fresh was hard to come by. The traditional filling is yellow because of the egg yolks and yellow lime juice. Under no circumstances should you ever add green food coloring. In 2006, Key Lime Pie became the official Florida state pie.

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This article has been read 1013 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Markman04/24/08
This is absolutely wonderful, from the first paragraph to the very last. I hope it's a winner in the contest, because it sure is in my book.
Beth LaBuff 04/24/08
Your opening paragraph made me smile. I don't think I should have read this before dinner. :) Your "studied that pie like two opponents contemplating a difficult move on a chessboard" was great. Your descriptions of making this pie are perfect. I love your story and your author's note lesson was very interesting/informative. I'd never heard about the "under no circumstances should you ever add green food coloring", before. I promise you I never will.
Lynda Schultz 04/24/08
I love the beginning, the end — and everything in between. I've never tried making key lime pie, but you sure had my mouth watering. Very well done.
Tim George04/25/08
A good "slice" of life in a shorty story :)

Makes me want to get some Key Lime Pie tonight.
Laury Hubrich 04/25/08
Nice story. I enjoyed it:)
Jason Swiney04/25/08
Very good, extremely well written. A don't even like key lime pie, but I'm ready for a slice. Perfect ending. I like the aunt's simple warning, “Get away from that pie.” - I heard that exact phrase several times growing up, so I know the tone that accompanied those words.
Yvonne Blake 04/26/08
Oooooh...you made me hungry! Beautiful descriptions of the pie and the people. Great writing.
Joshua Janoski04/27/08
"Some recipes are a symphony with full orchestra; others, a choral cantata. Key Lime Pie is a song played with a few simple instruments: a creamy, sweet melody harmonized by its tart counterpoint."

I loved the word usage in the above lines. Actually, you have several parts with great descriptions and wording like this.

I loved the ending where the nieces weren't so sure about the man until he offered them some of the pie that they craved.

Oh and by the way, key lime is one of my favorite pies! Judging by your bit of info at the end, I must not be eating the authentic stuff, because mine is always colored green. :)

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story. It made my mouth water.
Peter Stone04/28/08
I really enjoyed the way that you weaved all the elements of the story, including romance, against the character focusing on the pie. And the conclusion was hilarious.
Carole Robishaw 04/28/08
You were right, it shouldn't have been read on an empty stomach. I am heading for the kitchen. My mouth watered, and I totally enjoyed the story.
Jan Ackerson 04/28/08
Okay, this one takes the cake! Er...it takes the pie. Definitely in my top few for this week. And also, if I send you my address, will you please send me a pie?
Debbie Wistrom04/29/08
Oh I think he is going to steal their aunt too! Wonderful, your stories are always a treat. ;)
Willena Flewelling 04/29/08
Superb story from beginning to end! I love your comparisons to chess moves and especially orchestra music.
Dee Yoder 04/30/08
Ooooh...Key Lime pie is my all-time favorite pie in the whole wide world! I love this story, therefore, and suffered through all the mouth-watering ingredients and instructions for making it. I love the thought of the fresh juice being squeezed...it smells so good...and...that wonderful taste!...so sunshiny and...uh...yeah-that's right...there's a story here, too. Your characters are friendly and sweet with just the right amount of tart-just like a Key Lime pie...with that nice, graham cracker crust...oh, phooey.
Loren T. Lowery04/30/08
The only thing missing is the recicpe : ) What a great story and I couldn't help but wonder its final conclusion.
Chely Roach04/30/08
This was fabulous from start to finish. LOVED the opening line! Awesome writing!
Sara Harricharan 05/01/08
Yum! I wanted a piece of that scrumptious pie too! I liked the ending where he offered them a slice and they decided that he had potential. That was cute-especially from the girls' POV! Congrats on your EC! ^_^
Beth LaBuff 05/01/08
Karen -- Congrats on your EC!!
Dee Yoder 05/01/08
Well, I think you know I loved this story! Congrats on your EC!!
Sheri Gordon05/01/08
Congratulations on your EC, Karen. This story is absolutely wonderful. (I can't believe I missed it this week.) I love the way you compare pie baking to music. And my mouth is watering now. Great job with the topic.
Sally Hanan05/01/08
Oh my! You gave me such a chuckle at the end. :) Lovely descriptions and great writing.
Julia May05/01/08
I knew this would be good from the first line. Congrats! Great story.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/01/08
Ha! Cute story with a perfect ending. Congratulations on your EC!