“LOOK OUT!!!” Melesa roared. I barely hesitated, diving out of the way as the giant roller barreled toward me. I hadn’t realized what I was diving at, pure adrenaline and fear were controlling me, so it was quite a shock once I fell into the vat that we had used to churn our butter. Luckily the vat was turned off, or I’d be staining it a very bright red. Sputtering and wiping the unsalted goo out of my eyes, I managed to make my way over to the edge of the vat and climb out.
“What the hell was that?” I demanded as Melesa ran over. I grabbed an apron off the rack next to me and started rubbing the butter off of my body. She looked mortified.
“I’m so sorry, Aiya. Darin was trying to figure out a way to roll out our cookie dough without having to do all that work by hand, and I guess he lost control.” Sheepishly, she handed me a thick towel, and I grabbed it out of her hands, turning to look out over our big project.
The city’s newspaper had published an article about the new contest across the state and how news reporters were heading to all the towns with potential submissions for the World’s Biggest Cookie. The winning group would get $1,000 each and a full-ride ticket to Vienna, the baking capital of the world. My best friends, Darin, Melesa, Ruza, and I were entering. All of us had started a bakery together after we had graduated culinary school, Pastries and Pal’s, and had always wanted to travel to Austria, especially Vienna. I didn't believe in coincidences, but this felt like fate.
We had decided to make a humongous snickerdoodle cookie. The only cookie we could all agree on was the best out there. Especially with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Yum.
“Are you alright, Aiya?” Darin hopped out of the roller on the far end of the warehouse that we had rented to bake our monster cookie in. I scowled at him, trying to rub out the big clumps of butter that had formed in my hair.
“Ya butter back off buddy before you get creamed by this salty stick.” I snickered at the expression on Darin’s face at my bad puns. “Ok ok. Did anything good come out of making me jump into the butter vat?” He scratched his head.
“Well, technically, no,” I rolled my eyes. “but we made one portion of the dough ball significantly flatter.” The way we had decided to create the World’s Biggest Cookie was to break the cookie making into steps. The contest was only two weeks long, giving us a week and a half to get the ingredients into a dough ball and about 4 or 5 days to roll and bake the ginormous thing. We had used most of our profits from the bakery to buy hundreds of eggs, bags, and bags of flour, innumerable sticks of butter, enough cinnamon to wipe our entire city off the map if it exploded, and had sold out the multiple grocery stores we frequented of sugar. We had made sure the proportions were absolutely, definitely, correct before dividing the work up between us four. Each of us was responsible for making enough dough to create literally a decent-sized snickerdoodle car, and then we would take all of our dough balls and mush them together.
So far, we had lumped all of our collective dough into a ball, and as it was towering over 9 feet and was measuring over 12 feet long while it was only a blob of dough, we were excited yet unsure how to roll it out into the cookie shape. Enter Darin and his bright idea to use a cement roller to roll over the dough and shape it. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, although now I wasn’t quite sure.
“I have an idea!!” Ruza, the fourth member of our squad, ran up to us, his blue eyes bright with excitement. He took in my butter-soaked figure but wisely decided not to comment on it after I scorched him with a glare. “So, when we bake our cookie, we use flame throwers and walk all around and over the cookie so we can thoroughly bake it. It's not like this baby is going into an oven! Whaddya say?” I looked at him dubiously.
“And where are we gonna get flamethrowers?” Ruza’s smile faded.
“I have no idea.” I rolled my eyes again, then heard my phone ringing from inside my bag. Thank god I didn’t have it on me when I was forced into the butter vat. I hurried over to my bag and looked at the caller ID. It was my mother.
“Hey guys, why don’t we take a lunch break and meet up here in a couple of hours?”
“Yeah sure. See you later.” Melesa grabbed her purse and held up the keys toward the guys. “Who wants to drive?”
I walked into my house, a towel around me so I didn’t drip butter into my car seat.
“I’m home ma!” I called, heading up the stairs to my bathroom. She met me in the hall and surveyed me with a disgusted expression.
“What the hell happened to you?” I snorted.
“Butter and a runaway roller. Don’t ask.”
“Well, go shower. I don’t want that dirting up the house. I just vacuumed. Hurry up, or we’ll be late for lunch.” I rolled my eyes.
“Yes, ma.” I headed into my room and the bathroom. I turned on the shower and stripped, letting the water heat up a little, my thoughts on the competition as always. As the hot water streamed down on my back and I scrubbed my hair, I got an idea. I was so excited that I almost slipped on the tiles.
After my shower, I pulled out my phone and quickly did a google search. As I scrolled through the images, a smile crossed my face. I knew exactly what to do about how to bake our cookie dough.
“Ma!!” I thundered down the steps and into the garage where she was picking out shoes to wear. “Do we still have that old blowtorch Dad was putting together?”
“Why?” She looked over at me.
“I need it so we can hook it up to a fan and bake our cookie.” She picked out a pair of nude heels and walked over to a pile of boxes near the far wall of the garage. Rummaging around, she finally pulled out an old cardboard box. Coughing slightly as she dusted it off, she handed it to me.
“Have fun with it. Just don’t singe yourself.” I kissed her cheek.
“You’re welcome. Now, can we go?” My phone buzzed. It was Ruza.
Get over here ASAP. New development. Urgent.
“Um, Mama, I have to cancel our lunch. The cookie is in trouble.” She sighed, annoyed but slightly amused.
“If you must.”
“Great, love you, see you later!” I gave her a quick hug and ran out of the garage. Hopping in my car, I roared down the driveway, startling the neighbor’s cat from its nap in the sun. I got to the warehouse, grabbing the box with the old blowtorch, and racing inside.
“Where’s the fire?” I asked, coming up to my friends who were next to the giant ball of dough and looking at it. Melesa turned to me, her eyes shining.
“We know how to roll it.” I stared at her, speechless.
“Really? How? With what? Where? When?” She laughed at my urgent questions and pulled out a pair of keys. I took them, confused. She grabbed my shoulders and led me to the opposite side of the warehouse to the cement roller. “No, no, no, no, no.”
“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” she said and pushed me inside the driver’s seat.
“Why?” I whined, looking at her.
“Because it’s the only way we’ll get it done today so we can start baking it tomorrow.” I groaned but turned the keys in the ignition. “Ok, all you have to do is drive straight in the middle of it, then turn and come back around to do it again,” I grunted.
It took a bit to make sure the cookie was properly flattened and to shape it the way we wanted, but finally, I hopped out of the roller, the smell of cinnamon heavy in the air. I walked over to the rest of the gang, who were surveying the cookie with satisfaction. Flattened, it was about 15 feet in diameter, pretty big for a cookie. I felt we had this competition on the oven, so to speak.
“Are we done for today?” I wearily asked, wiping my brow.
“Yeah, I think so. But what are we going to do about the baking part?” Ruza asked, turning to me. I straightened.
“I was waiting for you to ask.” I walked over to where I had kept the old box, calling back over my shoulder. “My dad had a big blowtorch, and I was thinking if we used it with a fan, we could successfully bake the thing.” I walked back over, opening up the box. We crowded around it.
“Wow, that’s…big,” Darin said.
“I like it.” Ruza grinned.
“Good job, Aiya,” Melesa said. She took the box from me and kept it near the cookie.
“Alright guys, I’m heading home.” I yawned, stretching my arms over my head.
“Yeah, goodnight guys,” Melesa said, grabbing her purse. Chattering excitedly about tomorrow’s baking, we walked over to the door of the warehouse. As soon as we walked outside, the flashes of reporters’ camera’s blinded us. There were about a dozen of them, all throwing questions out at us as we walked to our cars.
“How far along are you in the competition?”
“What do you plan to do with the money?”
“How big is it?”
“Are you worried about the competition?”
“Fuc-” I growled at the reporters.
“COUGH” Melesa interjected, shooting a warning glance at me. I mutinously crossed my arms. I hated reporters. They were like mosquitos, all searching for that one person to attack.
“We have no comment at this time, thank you.” Darin politely said, shouldering his way through the crowd to his car. I followed Ruza behind me, and Melesa bringing up the rear. Dodging the questions the reporters threw at us, we got in our cars and drove away.
The next day, we all got to the warehouse early, eager to use the blowtorch to start baking. Today was the last day we had to work on the cookie, as the judges would start going to all the submissions tomorrow.
I handed safety goggles to each of my friends, having borrowed them from the local middle school. They were more than happy to lend them to me, eager to support our endeavor. I held our makeshift flamethrower, to the boy’s chagrin. We had used duck tape and lots of string to connect both the blowtorch and the fan.
“3-2-1” Melesa counted down, and with a nod, I held out the flamethrower at arm’s length, turned my face away, and held my breath as I turned it on. Luckily, I did not burn up in a fiery inferno, and with a small roar, our baby flamethrower came to life.
It took us a couple of hours to fully bake the giant cookie. Melesa walked behind me, sprinkling cinnamon and powdered sugar on top of the cookie as it baked. When I had gotten tired, I’d passed it on to the boys, who eagerly took charge. Exhausted, we finally shut our makeshift flamethrower off and took our safety goggles off. We stood in silence for a minute, marveling at what we’d done. I turned to look at my best friends and smiled at each of them. I held out my arm to Melesa, and she held hers out to Darin, who held his out to Ruza. Linking arms with my best friends, looking over at our wonderful creation, I smiled. We were going to win. I just knew it.