The September corn moon was full and bathed our yard and house in light, and my mom was busying herself in the kitchen where she poured eggs, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and flour into a metal bowl. The beaters spun in unison in opposite directions and mixed everything together for my birthday cake from scratch. Mom waltzed from the mixer to the pantry to the cabinets to the oven and back in her yellow polka dot dress draped in a Betty Crocker apron. Mom had Betty’s smile, and she wore flour on her fingertips that she sprinkled in her hair when she pressed her Jackie Kennedy hair back in place.
“Sam, do you want to lick the beaters?”
Licking the beaters was always the foreplay before the climax of eating the birthday cake, and waiting until the next day was as bad as anticipation on Christmas Eve.
I gazed through the window and imagined my mother outside in the reflection of moonlight next to the Crape Myrtles and whispered, “I want to lick the beaters,” and she held one out for me, dripping in the sugary cream. I stuck my tongue out to catch the heavenly concoction.
“What the hell are you doing, Sam?” my wife says.
I can’t tell my wife that Mom is out there inviting me to lick the beaters, because she’s been gone for years. “Nothing,” I reply.
She’s dressed in a black pin-striped business suit and a white shell, and she’s wearing readers. She looks smart and sharp. She’ll make a commercial real-estate deal that will give us commission enough to get out of credit card, student loan, and mortgage debt. “What kind of birthday cake do you want me to pick up from the grocery store on the way home?”
“Doesn’t matter. They’re all the same. You pick what you like best and I’ll eat it.”
is author of the novel Drifting Too Far From the Shore (2016); two collections of stories, Reading the Coffee Grounds (2018) and Road Kill Art and Other Oddities (2006); and a novella, Lead Me Home (2010). His work has been featured in fourteen anthologies, twenty-one countries, and 300+ magazines and journals, including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader Magazine, Forth Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and STORGY Magazine. Dr. Reddick is an English professor and the Vice Provost at the University of Memphis, Lambuth in Jackson, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife, two teens, and two Schnauzers named for Poets Laureate.
Author’s website: https://nilesreddick.com/
Forever Summer, micro-fiction in Grey Sparrow Journal
(Issue 37, January 2021)
Niles Reddick reads his story Pennies From Heaven at CurtCo Media podcast network
(Episode 46, April 2020).
Spaghetti House, flash fiction in Fiction Kitchen Berlin
(10 November 2019)
Interview with Maggi Vaughn, a charming 28-minute video on
Facebook (May 2015) in which Niles Reddick visits with Margaret Britton Vaughn,
songwriter for country singer Loretta Lynn and others, author of 19 books, and
Tennessee’s Poet Laureate. Maggi refers to herself as a “thighbone
poet” whose accessible writing is “all about image, image, image.”