The aroma hit Tiffany’s nose before she’d crossed the threshold. It blended in with the warmth of her grandma’s kitchen. She shook out her rain jacket and hung her coat on the back of the door knob, so that it would drip on the towel grandma had left on the entryway floor. She took her boots off as well. She paused to breathe the smell of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
“Grandma, are you making spice cake?” Tiffany called.
“Come in. I made apple cider for you.”
Tiffany smiled, thankful it wasn’t hot Tang this time. Apple cider was a treat and the perfect rainy day elixir. The kitchen was warm with the spicy smell of cake baking. Grandma was humming an unfamiliar tune as she shuffled around the kitchen gathering empty bowls and spoons and dumping them into soapy water in the sink.
Tiffany sat down at the kitchen table covered with a bright padded tablecloth with over sized white daisies on a blue field. A steaming cup of cider sat in a chipped mug brown mug. A spoon leaned against the edge, so she could stir and sip the hot sweet liquid.
“Thanks grandma. This will warm up my toes in no time.”
Grandma chuckled. “You’re welcome.” She glanced up and dropped her wash rag. “You’re hair is soaked. I’ll get you a towel.”
Tiffany pushed back her wet bangs and examined her hair by touch. The sides were damp but the back was dry. “Just the front, grandma. I’m fine.”
A thin pink towel was thrown over her shoulder. Her grandma sat in the chair next to her and squeezed her arm with a spotted gnarled hand.
“Well?” She asked, jittering in her chair. She pressed her pink painted lips together. “How did it go?”
Tiffany smiled at her grandma as she spooned scalding cider into her mouth. She nodded as she let the liquid cool enough to swallow. “Good, I think.” The timer went off and grandma returned to the oven, exposing the flat spot on the back of her poofy white hair. She often walked around like a blunted cotton ball. Tiffany resisted the urge to reach out and fluff it.
“I can listen and do stuff at the same time.” Grandma took the cake out of the oven and set it onto a waiting cooling rack.
“I was nervous, of course, but the interview went well. They both nodded and smiled enthusiastically at my responses.”
“Nodding is good.” Grandma said tracing the pattern on her oven mitt. “You’ve got this job for sure. I just know it.”
“That’s what you said about the last one.” Tiffany blew on a spoonful of cider before sipping it, the sugar momentarily locking her up her jaw.
“Well, you’re the best. Everyone should hire you.” She smiled.
“Next time I’ll just tell them to call my Grandma and I can just skip the interview.” She dared a drink straight from her mug. “Can I get some toast with your awesome jam on it?”
Grandma buttoned up her cardigan and smirked. She slid two pieces of bread into the toaster.
“Did you tell you’re parents yet?”
Tiffany’s stomach went cold around the hot cider. “There’s nothing to know yet.”
“Well, they’ll want to know that their daughter is applying at Tendril Pharmaceuticals.” Grandma glanced up at Tiffany as she set the butter dish squarely on a large daisy. “That is the company they’ve been investigating for the last decade, since your grandfather died.”
Tiffany wrapped her cold hands around her mug and squeezed it. This was why she hadn’t told her parents. She didn’t want to have this conversation. “You promised you wouldn’t tell them.” She studied the spoon through the filter of brown cider.
“And I won’t. But if they threaten to put me in a home. . .” I’ll throw you under the bus.
Tiffany nodded at this verbal agreement they had made. It was fair. Mom and Dad only agreed to let Grandma stay in her house because Tiffany was living with her. Her house meant the world to her. Too many memories, Grandma always said. Plus, grandma was very healthy, but she didn’t know any of her neighbors anymore. Dad thought she would be happier in a community. Grandma just said not yet.
I used “cake” as my writing prompt today. Pick a word and write. It’s fun. You’ll like it.