"Twenty young hopefuls have spent months creating pies that are not only delicious, but fabulous to look at," the announcer shouted, coercing the sleepy crowd into polite coos of admiration. "The winner of the contest wins $100,000 to start their own bakery, this mixer courtesy of..."
I squirmed impatiently in my seat and rubbed my tongue over my teeth. I did not care about the prizes or the lovely sponsors. I was just here for the pie.
"Now, without further ado, I present your three judges." The announcer turned and pointed to us. I waved, but my eyes were focused on the apple crumble pie that had been fashioned into some abstract beach house. The cinnamon and sugar shoreline made my stomach rumble. Swallowing my drool, I nudged a fellow judge.
"I claim that one," I murmured. He turned to me, raising his bushy white eyebrows in shock.
"Madame, this contest is about culinary artistry and mastering the fine art of creating a pie! You can not claim a pie!"
"Don't be jealous," I snorted, tossing my hair. "That's my pie." The judge on my right glares at me and I grin. She was obviously not smart enough to claim her favorite pie in advance.
The bakers began to come forward, each bringing some over-the-top creation and babbling on about its meaning and what it stands for. There is a chocolate creme moose, lemon meringue blowfish and blueberry ozone catastrophe. Each pie is fashioned to look like a tragic museum accident, and I pay no attention. Besides the coconut cream blizzard, my lips are reserved for the apple pie. Of course, the apple pie baker is quavering in the back.
Number 19. The bakers drag on and on, their dribble running through my ears and out of my nose. A smile is frozen to my lips, but my tongue longs to scoop up chunks of apple in a sugary cinnamon glaze in a butter crust. I don't care if the moronic baker made the pie to look like my butt--it's apple pie. With crumbles. And golden brown crust. I can smell the cinnamon from across the room. I tap my toes and try to distract myself by singing the alphabet. I get stuck on pie.
Finally, baker 19 strides forward. "I give you," he announces in his best "I'm a real baker voice," "Apple beach cottage. I used gala, pink lady and green apples for the base and a homemade simple pie crust. For the top, I crumbled brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into fresh butter. It is a masterpiece."
"I'll say," I say, swatting the other judges' away. I glare at the man with disapproving white eyebrows. "Hey, slick, you ate nine pies and half of the lemon meringue. Back off." Falling back, he sets his fork down. I slide my fork through the tender apples and crust, scooping up some of the cinnamon and brown sugar crumbles with my fork. Opening my mouth, I close my eyes in pleasure as the fork reaches my lips....
A banshee scream that sounds like nails scraping against steel jolts me out of bed. My feet are running the second they touch the floor. Flinging the bedroom door open, I rush down the hall and to the gate. Two white bellies are dancing in front of it, with two tails wagging eagerly. There's only one puppy who could make that noise. I look at the tiny white Chihuahua flinging herself against the baby gate.
Bitty rolls over for a belly rub. I check her paws, her eyes, her tail and her tummy for signs of abuse from Bear. She shoves her tongue up my nose.
"You know," I said, leaning over the gate. "I was about to have some apple pie when you woke me up. I was judging an important contest. The crust was tender and flaky, the apples smelled so delicious..." I trail off and close my heavy eyes, the taste fresh on my tongue.
Something is dripping on my fingers. I look up and see Bear has wiped his dripping nose all over my hand after submerging it in his water bowl. Bitty is chewing on my thumb and has no interest in my dreams of pie.
"You don't care, do you?" I asked. The Babies wiggle and wag their tails. Shaking my head, I stumble back down the hall.
"Just one bite..." I muttered as I crawled back into bed. "I just wanted one bite."