“Mama Maggie’s Pies” by Leanne Gregg

Sally plunged her fingers into the tender, white dough, kneading it gently,

“Now, what is the key to pie crust?”

“Lard!” answered her six-year-old pupil, Maggie.

“Cor-rect,” she smiled, proud of her daughter. She quickly collected herself and returned to her stern chef character.

“Does this mean I get a por-motion to sue chef?” Maggie asked.

“Remember what I told you, you had to do?”

“Put the strawberries in the pie crust without eating any.”

“Did you do that?”

“No,” she furrowed her brow, “but the one I ate fell on the ground. It was not samitary to feed to Dad…err… I mean, the public.”

“Sanitary,” she corrected her. Maggie looked down at the dough, dejectedly.

“But, after considering your training and resume, l think you deserve a promotion to my sous-chef.”

“Yay,” clapped Maggie, spraying flour into the air.

Sally reached for her wooden spoon and tapped Maggie on her head and shoulders, “I hearby proclaim you are now my sous-chef. My right hand kid. Now to give you the mark of my people,” she gingerly slid her fingertip into the canister of white, powdery flour and tapped it on her daughter’s nose. Sally laughed, then her face wrinkled with concern.

“What’s wrong?”

“Does this mean my name is Sue now?”

“Do you want it to be?”

“No,” she shook her head ferociously.

“Good, because I like the name Maggie.”

“I don’t,” she frowned.

“You don’t? Why not?”

“I wish my name was Princess Pochahontas.”

Her Mom stifled her laugh, “Well, Princess Pochahontas is a good name, but do you know why we named you Margaret?”

“For Meemaw.”

“That’s right.”

“But I never met Meemaw.”

“No, you haven’t,” Sally felt a twinge in her chest, “but you’ve seen the pictures of her,” she said pointing to the cover of the Mama Maggie’s Pies cook book they had been using, “and you look just like her. Do you know why you look like her?”

“My curls.”

“Yes, your curls,” her Mom said, gently tugging one of the ringlets down, then letting it go to watch it spring into the air.

“I still don’t like it.”

“Why not?”

“Because my name makes you sad.”

Sally’s eyes started watering, “Oh, honey—”

“See!” Maggie frowned.

“Oh, honey,” she continued, “You don’t make me sad. I just miss your Meemaw and I wish she could meet you.”

“Can I go play now?” Maggie frowned.

“Sure, honey. Just go wash your hands in the sink first,” she called after Maggie as she started running away.

Sally sat down heavily in the kitchen chair, resting her elbows on the cold, aluminum surface. “Ugh,” she sighed.

All she wanted to do was to call her own mother and ask her advice. She took her phone out of her pocket and scrolled through the contacts until she landed on

“Mama Maggie.” This was Sally’s third phone since it happened six years earlier, but she could never bring herself to delete her mother’s name with each data import.

She tapped the thumbnail photo of her mother posing with her ubiquitous whisk and rolling pin—the same one on the cover of her bestselling cookbook.

Three rings. Long pause. Her heart still gargled in her throat during that pause between the final ring and the voicemail message, pounding with the irrational hope her mother would finally answer. Beep.

“Hi Mom,” she began, “I know it’s been awhile. I’m fine. Daryl’s fine—still doing well with the company. Maggie’s great—I, uh, I miss you,” she cleared her throat.

“I don’t know what to do here. I keep trying to tell Maggie about you, about your life, hoping that she will love you like she would if you were here. And I keep getting upset that she doesn’t. I know it’s a lot to put on a kid. She wants to change her name to Princess Pochahontas, “ she laughed, “it sounds silly to say that out loud.”

“I just wish that you could have held her when she was a baby. Or I could have bought her one of those ‘Grandma’s Girl’ onesies to wear in photos that I would’ve sent you for your fridge,” she wiped at her eyes, “I just wish—“

A tiny hand tapped her shoulder, “Mama?”

Sally froze at the touch of the warm fingers. She wiped frantically at her eyes and tried to smile.

“Mama? Are you crying?”

“No, I just had something in my eyes.”

“Oh, okay,” she frowned thoughtfully, “Mama, I was thinking about Meemaw and how she is in heaven.”

Sally smiled, “Oh really? What were you thinking?”

“When will I go to heaven to see her?”

“Well, hopefully not for a really long time. Maybe 100 years.”

“Oh, okay. Well in 100 years when I go to heaven—“ she paused in concentration.

“Yes?”

“Will you shoot me out of a canon after I die? I’d like that.”

Sally’s shoulders started shaking with the waves laughter she was trying to control, “Sure honey, I’ll shoot you out of a canon in 100 years if that’s what you really want.”

“I love you Mama.”

“I love you too.”

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