“Take one of our pies!”
Did my wife just say that? Is that what I heard? Take one of our pies?
At what point did she believe that these where her pies?
“Please,” she defiantly said to her cousins who we are visiting. I heard it. Right there, as I stood beside her with a dumbstruck look on my face, the words of betrayal hit my ears and my world was shattered.
She said please. My wife is begged for someone else to break my heart. Please.
There were three pies but only because my wife didn’t understand what I originally asked her as we stopped at the local farmer’s market. She thought I had asked her for a pie from this holy place of homemade baking. And then she thought she was being nice by getting three pies.
I asked for all the pies. As we left, there were more round discs of joy in their window.
When we got back to our cabin, a little place in the woods, I opened the brown bag and shock and horror entered my world. I stood there, looking at what was inside.
“I couldn’t decide on the best pie so I bought three mini-pies!” She said it with such pride as if it was anything but a gut punch to a man that loves homemade pie.
I didn’t answer then. I couldn’t I wouldn’t. It hurt too much and the scream was stuck in my throat. Mini-pies are the devil’s trick and there the seeds of the betrayal were sewn.
We had dinner, the kids played, and visiting family came over to enjoy our shameful pie. My wife passed around plates and everyone had a slice. Soon, there were only crumbs left of the apple and the cherry was half gone. As we all talked of old times, shared memories of childhoods and weddings, I inched the pies closer to me.
Like a dragon hoarding his treasure, I was close to sitting on the remaining pies. I wasn’t even sure what flavor the last one was. Boysenberry maybe? Strawberry season had just ended so there is a chance that delicate red sugar juice would rest within.
I will never know. My wife gave away the pie.
The cousins left and we were all smiling as they drove away. My mouth strained with the pain of that fake smile, the tears damned up my eyes. We shut the door, and I stood in the hallway as my family dispersed.
No! Shame cannot be hidden. It must be exposed.
I called all the children back down. Their little feet slapped against oak flooring, their doe eyes full of innocence. And then I shattered it.
“Your mother,” I began. The children gasped. “She gave away daddy’s pie!”
My oldest daughter fainted. With one arm I caught her, and with my other, I extended my finger toward the transgressor.
“And she said please as she did so!” I continued.
“Say it isn’t so, mother!” my eleven-year-old son said. His little brother began to cry.
“What are you talking about?” my wife asked. “What’s going on?”
“Do not believe her lies, my children. She knows exactly what she did. I myself witnessed this shameful event. And I saw her smiling the whole time as she did so! Right here in this place of happiness and joy, your mother gave away the pie.”
“Oh, you’re being dramatic. There was no way were going to eat three pies. Half the cherry is still left, and I couldn’t eat another bite,” she said.
Outside, a bird chirped sadly, it’s melancholy song devoured by the approaching night.
“You underestimate me, wife. You believe that I am a lesser man when my waistline clearly speaks to my prowess in pie eating. Behold my heart which you have shattered!” I ripped off my shirt. Angels sang in the heavens.
“Mother, mother, mother,” my daughter chanted as she woke. “Daddy, it can’t be true.”
“Shh, my sweet one,” I told her as I brushed the hair back from her reddened eyes. “Daddy is here, my pumpkin pie. Although I have no pie to offer you.” My sons put their hands on my shoulders, quiet in their own personal torment.
I fell to my knees as the cannon shot of the transgression hit me, tore through my insides and left me a pieless man. I had no sweet morsels to offer my children, only my broken spirit that could no longer lift us up.
“I’m going to bed,” my wife said and as she turned her hair moved past her neckline. And there, I saw something that I can’t believe has been missed in the twenty years of our marriage. The witches mark, right behind the ear, easily dismissed as a birthmark.
But now I know. It’s the sign of the pie devourer. The destroyer of dreams and butter flaked crusts. The consumer of souls.
I can’t tell you how long the children and I knelt in that hallway. Seconds, perhaps even a minute, before they told me to get over it and stop pretending.
I would love to do so, but I have no pie to help me. The world is burned and all that is left is an empty pie tin.