Amos sopped up his eggs with toast. “My sweet petunia, it’s all right. Dry cornbread is good dipped in buttermilk, and the preacher likes buttermilk.”
“Thanks for calling my cornbread ‘dry’,” I said, popping his shoulder with my dishtowel. Everyone knew that Blossom Perkins could not make cornbread, although my apples pies were often requested at church functions.
“I didn’t marry you for your cornbread, little daisy o’ mine, but you have to admit. It ain’t like your mama’s.” He shot out the door before I could dump my mop bucket over his head.
Why’d the preacher have to specifically ask for my cornbread to be on the table for Sunday’s dinner on the ground? Was he making fun of me? Mama frowned on his methods. It didn’t help that he used her rum balls as an example the day he preached about demon liquor. She thought he was trying to improve my cooking skills by putting pressure on me.
It seems the deacons were all up in arms about his convincing that old hermit Sam to show up last week. “If your right eye offends thee, pluck it out!” Preacher Jones hollered, and Sam promptly stood up and plucked out his wooden eyeball. Mama fainted.
Mama showed up with her cast iron skillet just as I finished the mopping. “No daughter of mine is taking a dried up, top of the crust missing, nearly black corn pone to the church.” She went into the icebox for eggs and buttermilk.
Amos came back in the kitchen. He took one look at Mama and frowned. “You’re not fixin’ to cook that bread for her, are you, and then try and pass it off as hers? At church?” I knew he didn’t mean to be disrespectful, but I thought the same thing.
A standoff at the kitchen sink. Mama with her skillet and Amos with his rake. Maybe I’d just forget the whole thing and take apple pie.
“Both of you, out of my kitchen.” I shooed them to the front door after grabbing hold of Mama’s skillet. She left in a huff.
I followed her directions from start to finish. Perspiration slid down my nose as I stood over that hot cook stove waiting for the crust to turn just the color of cane syrup. I grabbed my pot holder and pulled it out. I let it sit for 3 minutes and then slid the serving platter on top of Mama’s skillet. I prayed like I never prayed before and then turned the cornbread over.
A perfectly round medallion of crust remained stuck to the skillet. Tears mingled with my sweaty face.
Amos slipped up behind me. “Sweet little prairie flower, just take your apple pie. Don’t worry about that preacher. There will be plenty of cornbread at the church today.”
“I suppose you don’t mind them all saying that Amos Perkins’ wife can’t cook.” I continued to cry.
Amos wiped my tears with his big brown hands. “Like I said, dear rose o’ my heart, I didn’t marry your for your cornbread. Now your apple pie is another matter.” He patted his belly that had grown some since we married three months ago.
I’d told the preacher I’d bring cornbread, so I just scraped off the medallion and covered the hole. The looks I got from the other ladies at church made me want to hide in the outhouse. Mama didn’t show up at all.
Preacher Jones tore the place up with a good hell fire and brimstone sermon. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he held up my poor, pitiful cornbread for all to see.
“Now some of you may feel dried up inside, or that part of you is missin’ like Sister Perkins’ corn pone here. When you come to Jesus,” he said, replacing the medallion over the hole in the top of my cornbread, “you are whole.”
I couldn’t hear the rest of what he said for trying to slide into the floor under the pew. Amos grabbed hold of my arm and patted my knee. “Look,” he whispered.
Old Farley Kelton hobbled down the isle. We all wondered for years if that old sinner would ever get saved. Here he came, both hands in the air and praising God.
Amos played horseshoes with the other men after dinner. I overheard him say all puffed up and proud-like, “Ain’t every man that’s got a wife whose cornbread can win the lost.”
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