Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Panis Angelicus

      “Carly, can you stop by your grandmother's on the way home from school tomorrow?” My mother asked. “She was asking about you yesterday.”
      “I just saw her last week.”
      “I know. But she adores her little Piccola,” Mom said, using Nonna's nickname for me. “It would really make her day if you just stopped by. She's lonely since your grandfather passed away.”
      “Okay Mom.”
      Guilt. Mom learned from the best. That's why I got off the bus two stops early and lugged my book bag to Nonna's little yellow house. My feelings of annoyance vanished as I walked up the front steps. I smelled it before I opened the door—the unmistakable, irresistible, smell of home-baked bread. There is no more alluring scent in the world—not fresh cut grass, or Starbuck's coffee, or lemonade on a hot summer's day.
      “Is that you Piccola?” she called as the screen door slammed behind me.
      “Yes, it's me Nonna,” I said. “Something smells amazing!”
      “I knew you were coming so I baked the most perfect bread you ever saw!” Nonna said as she pulled me into an olive-oil scented hug.
      “You've gotten even more beautiful since I saw you last!”
      “It's only been a week,” I giggled.
      “That's too long to keep me from my Piccola! Now, sit down. I'll pour you some milk and you tell me about your day. The bread just needs another minute.”
      She poured milk into the tiny jelly jars she used for glasses.
      “No cheerleading today?”
      “I'm a majorette Nonna, remember?”
     “What's the difference again?”
      “Batons? I twirl batons. Is the bread almost ready?”
      “So impatient!” she said with a laugh. “Let's take a closer look shall we?”
      She opened the oven door and knocked on the bread gently.
      “It's just right.”
      She pulled out four loaves of bread that looked good enough to be on a magazine over and placed them on the large wooden board on the counter.
      “That's a lot of bread Nonna,” I said.
      “I baked a double batch. Mr. Guerra at the fruit stand gave me a good deal, so I made one for him.”
      “Fruit stand?” I whispered. “Nonna? Did you make jam too?”
      “It's the best jam I ever made.”
      “You say that every time Nonna.”
      “I'm still perfecting my formula,” she said with a wink. “Wait until you taste it!”
      “I can't wait. I love your strawberry jam. It's my favorite.”
      “Ah, Piccola, no strawberries in September. Mr. Guerra gave me a good deal on the last of the summer peaches.”
      There was something about the way her eyes lit up when she mentioned Mr. Guerra.
      “I think I remember him. Doesn't he have the wavy white hair.”
      “That's him,” she said trying to keep from smiling.
      “Nonna!” I shrieked. “You have a boyfriend!”
      “I'm too old for boyfriends,” she said. “Now try this.”
      Steam escaped from the crispy crust as Nonna sliced the bread. She slathered it with golden jam and handed it to me on an old stoneware plate.
      “Well?” she said as I slowly chewed the first bite.
      “Nonna, if you give this bread and jam to Mr. Guerra, you aren't going to have a boyfriend.”
      "You're going to have a husband.”
      She smiled ever so slightly and said, “You think?”

      I'm linking up this week, for the first time in AGES with Write on Edge. We were given these two delicious images for inspiration and asked to write something fresh. It's nice to be writing again.