The Magic of a Jam Tart

Submitted into Contest #100 in response to: Write a story that involves a secret or magic ingredient.... view prompt

0 comments

Fantasy Teens & Young Adult Funny

      The smell of flaky pastry and sautéing strawberries wafts through the kitchen. Outside, the world is unfettered by magic and trickery. The grass flows lazily in the slight breeze, whilst the sky remains clear, no sign of a cloud in sight. Animals co-exist together, enjoying each other’s company… but inside the kitchen, it’s a totally different story.

           All sorts of substances litter the floor, ranging from shattered egg shells to sticky jam, which just wasn’t thick enough to use in the final piece. Maggie stands next to the stove, her hair sticking out at odd ends, an air of agitation surrounding her. The tension in the kitchen is palpable, and Maggie can sense it – she could even use a knife to hack at it. With all sorts of spillages surrounding her, she inhales deeply, needing to calm down before fear threatens to take over her.

           “It’s okay,” she tells herself, as the lights in the kitchen begin to flicker. “We will get this right, and then Theo will love me forever.”

           What is it she’s making, I hear you ask? It’s a secret recipe - a magic recipe. Passed down through generations, her family curated it ages ago, never to be spoken of to the outside world. Being in a family of witches is difficult, Maggie always admits to herself, but this is the one thing they can’t take away from her. The most amazing dish ever created: the jam tart.

           So far, she had perfected the pastry, and made it crumbly but well-formed, and it is almost perfect to eat. However, she just can’t get the jam right. It is either too salty, too sweet, or not the right consistency. For well over a decade, she couldn’t get the jam to taste right, and with the ball starting so soon, she needs to get it perfected.

           Her plan for this perfect jam tart?

           She’s going to feed it to Theo Harper, the bachelor with the highest status, and watch him fall in love with her. No, no, he won’s fall in love with her cooking; he will fall in love with her. You see, this jam tart is no ordinary jam tart. It’s special - some call it bewitched, some call it cursed, but Maggie calls it magic. Buried deep inside the jam is a small amount of powder, which is Maggie’s secret ingredient, a love potion powerful enough to have even the devil fall in love. And in a few days’ time, you will all see that it works.

           Maggie spends a multitude of hours over the next few days concocting her sweet treat, until finally, on the night before, it’s just right. Sobbing with delight, she slinks onto the floor, exhausted by all the effort she put into making it. She leaves it on the counter, encased in a thick layer of cling wrap, and sleeps peacefully on the floor, waiting for the next day.

The morning of the ball, Maggie oversleeps her alarm, and wakes up with drool dripping down her face. With less than a few hours to go, she rushes to the bathroom, and attempts to make herself look presentable.

           Grey hair thick and matted, she combs it down, using water to make the straggly ends not stick out as much. She washes her face with cool water, enjoying the icy droplets dripping down her skin. Eyeing her yellow teeth in the mirror, she decides she needs to do something about that, and heads to her nearest stack of jars in the cupboard. Bending down, she roots through them all, until she finally finds the one she’s looking for: the beetle jug. Bringing it over to the mirror, she squishes one of the bugs until it is nothing but a paste. She applies the brown paste to her lips, and in her opinion, the legs of the beetle only add ambience to her look.

           Satisfied with her face, she heads to her wardrobe, fishing through many moth-eaten capes and torn, fly-covered dresses, until she finds the perfect one. This one is coated in mounds of green filth, an unknown substance which lets off the stench of raw fish. Maggie inhales, enjoying the scent, and slips the dress on. She spends what feels like days in front of the mirror, admiring herself, but she eventually tears herself away, and heads for the ball.

           Without any money for transport, Maggie wanders bare-foot to the ball all by herself. The full moon gazing over the world satisfies her, and the shadows created by the trees are her friends. Wind cackling as it drapes past her, it is well past midnight when Maggie finally arrives. Everyone is affected by the copious amount of wine they’ve consumed, and main courses are long since forgotten. Stumbling through the doors, and pushing past the smug, poshly-dressed suitors, Maggie makes her way up to the front table, where Theo is definitely likely to be.

           “Who let in that vile creature?” A woman shrieks beside her, but Maggie can’t hear her; her attention is solely focused on getting Theo to love her.

           We will see who’s laughing when I have Theo Harper all to myself, she thinks gleefully. Eyes squinting against the harsh lights, Maggie places the jam tart down on the table, and searches all around for her lover. After minutes of searching for him with no luck, Maggie is about to go to the restroom, when he steps forward, in all his fine glory. Maggie is captivated by him, and as he walks towards her, shoulders bared and head high, she realises he is a soldier coming to rescue her. Her soldier.

           “Miss, you can’t be here,” Theo Harper says to her, his deep voice echoing around the hall. The music quietens, and people stare as Maggie smiles at him. There, she thinks. They’re all jealous that Theo Harper is about to fall in love with me.

           “Well, hello, Theo. Fancy seeing you here!” She grins, showing the green gunge in her teeth, which has been sitting there for days – maybe even months. “I’ve brought a little something for you.”

           “I’m sorry Miss, but as I said, you can’t be here. You need to leave now.”

           “But you haven’t had dessert yet!” She says playfully. Turning around to pick up her jam tart, Maggie is astounded when she finds it isn’t there. “I put it down here! It must be around here somewhere.” She lifts under the tablecloth, arousing a collective sigh of disgust from the guests, but stands up when she can’t find it. “Just wait here, Theo, I’ll go find it for you…”

           “Maggie!” A voice rings out through the crowd.

           “Who calls?” Maggie shouts back, and the crowd parts so that she can see the voice. It belongs to a young boy, short and plump, dressed up in a Royal’s uniform. He holds in his hands an empty box, filled with the crumbs and remnants of the jam tart. Her jam tart. Maggie stares at him in horror, as he starts to race towards her, infatuated.

           “Oh no!” she cries. “What have I done?”

July 02, 2021 08:05

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

0 comments

RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.