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To Serve a Smile

Main Ingredients:
shot glass

Spice Pack:
1/2 whisper of depression
1 smidge of adoration


As we wandered through the supermarket, Maia, my step-mom, and I glanced through the aisles, searching frantically for the ingredients needed for the special family recipe we planned to resurrect for tonight's dinner.

"Parsnip and coriander? Who on earth seasons parsnips with coriander?" I heard Maria mutter under her breath.

When my aunt found the book of old family recipes, my dad became quite excited over the mention of his mother's "famous" parsnip recipe. So, naturally, Maia felt that she needed to bring the light of nostalgia back into her husband's life. Things had been difficult since Grandma died and we hadn't seen him happy in far too long. Maybe this seemingly-odd recipe would remind him of better days.

"Found it!" I heard Maia cry from further down the aisle.

I groaned, but quickly stifled it, hoping she hadn't heard. Maia is a kind woman but a cook, she is not. Considering that even pasta is a personal challenge in Maia's kitchen, I don't know why parsnips will be any more successful. True, they're just vegetables, but have you eaten her broccoli? It disintegrates on the plate!

As I proceeded down the aisle I saw a hanging display of shot glasses, dangling from a bright red sign that read "$1!!!" I'd probably need this for later, to wash down the taste of coriander and parsnips.

It is true though, that my dad hasn't been cheerful since his mother passed, and Maia is one of the only people who can occasionally coax a smile from his grim, tired face. Despite her awful cooking, she has been a source of happiness in our home since their marriage, four years earlier. Anyone can see that she makes my father happy so maybe, just maybe, this likely-to-be-poorly-cooked meal would be a success.

"Jamie, come on!" Maia called to me. "It's time to cook."

I looked down at the shot glass clasped firmly in my hand and decided that I'd be holding onto it, just in case I needed a chaser for later. Then, I turned and followed her to the cashier at the front of the store, not quite sure where the afternoon's cooking attempts would lead.

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