Bedtime Coming of Age Teens & Young Adult

“So what if I kept it secret! It’s my secret to keep. How can she be mad at me for that?” I said into the phone as I walked out of the living room and into the kitchen where my Dad was making us breakfast. It was Sunday morning, and I was talking on the phone with Violet, my best friend since the first grade.

           “Come on, Ellie, you know that secrets tear apart friendships. You should have just told her,” Violet said.

           “It isn’t a big deal. Why is she making it a big deal?” I asked, frustrated with the whole situation.

           “It’s not every day that someone you know gets to be on a TV show. Nora is just mad that you didn’t tell her, and she had to hear it from Johnny Tay….,” Violet said, cutting herself off mid-word.

           “Johnny Taylor? How did he find out? Violet, you were the only person I told,” I said, starting to get a clear picture of where the leak had come from.

           “He overheard me telling Tori during lunch on Friday. I’m sorry, Ellie. I didn’t mean to ruin your surprise or anything, but you know me, I can’t keep a secret, especially one this good. I was just so excited for you that I couldn’t keep it bottled up anymore. Please don’t be mad at me,” Violet was talking super-fast, she always did that when she was excited and nervous.

           “Ugh,” I replied.

           “Just call Nora and talk to her,” Violet urged.

           “Fine, I’ll call her after breakfast,” I said.

           I hung up the phone and plopped down on the stool at the kitchen counter.

           “Good morning, Sweetie, sounds like you have your hands full today,” said Dad who was accidentally eavesdropping on my conversation.

           “I shouldn’t have told Violet,” I said crossing my arms on the counter and laying my head down on my folded arms.

           “You tell Violet everything,” Dad said.

           “Violet has a big mouth,” I mumbled.

           “Violet is not very good at keeping secrets, that’s for sure,” Dad laughed. “Cheer up, Sweetie, it’s going to be fine. Nora will stop being mad once you call and talk to her,” Dad reminded me.

           “Do I have to go on TV?” I asked.

           “Yes, you have to go on TV. If you don’t, you are going to regret it forever. Be glad that they decided to pick you because you really deserve to do this,” Dad told me.

           He was right. The kids in my class would have been mad at me if I turned down the opportunity to go on a TV cooking show.

           “Dad, can I go to a different school?”

           “Next year you can,” Dad said, he was trying to be funny, but it wasn’t helping me. We already knew I would be going to a different school next year because I would be in junior high and not elementary school.

           “Ellie, you have always loved to cook, don’t let this dampen your spirits,” Mom said from the doorway of the garage.

           “Everyone is going to be mad at me,” I told her.

           “Everyone is going to be happy for you,” she countered.

           “Ugh,” I said again.

           After breakfast, I called Nora. That went better than I expected. Nora was so happy for me that she was no longer mad that I didn’t tell her right away. She said she understood why I was keeping it a secret, and I was glad she said that because it made me feel better about the whole situation.

           The next day at school, I stood up in front of the class right when the first bell rang and told my classmates about the plan for me to go on the kid’s TV cooking show. My teacher, Mrs. Harris, already knew so it wasn’t a surprise to her, but it was to everyone else. No one knew I was that good at cooking. They all knew that I liked to bake because I always brought leftover treats to school to share with my class and they always raved about how good they were. Only a few of my friends knew that I usually did all of the cooking at our house because I loved it so much and it was a good experience.

           Mrs. Harris had noticed early on that I had a flair for food and she had tried to make school more fun by adding extra questions to tests and assignments that had to do with cooking so it would pique my interest in different subjects.

           “You have a photographic memory,” Mom always said, but if that were true then why did I always forget to feed the dog and take out the trash?

           Why did I have to be different? Why couldn’t I be just like everyone else? I should have been better at faking it since that’s what I had been doing since first grade. I guess the whole fake-it-till-you-make-it philosophy didn’t work for people like me who were trying to fake being like everyone else.

           I didn’t ask to be different. In fact, the school asked my parents if they could put my picture in the hall so everyone could see I was going to be on TV. At first, I was against it, because I didn’t want any special attention but now my friends knew and were super supportive. That alone made the decision easier to have my picture plastered up all over town. Besides, it’s not like I am going off to Hollywood to be a movie star or anything like that.

           The school was almost out for the year. Just two more days and it would be summer vacation.

           “Is your family going camping next week, Nora,” I asked at lunch, trying to keep things normal.

           “Yes, this year we are doing a family reunion at the campground,” said Nora.

           “That sounds, um, like fun,” I said, scrunching up my face and shaking my head no.

           “It’s terrible! I am the oldest cousin, so all of the little kids swarm me and always want to tag along. I won’t have any time to myself,” she said with a frown.

           “Why don’t you do some crafts with them?” I suggested it as an idea since all little kids love doing crafts.

           “Or why don’t you teach them to roast marshmallows and make S’mores,” said Violet, nudging me with her shoulder so that I would offer some cooking ideas.

           “How about Butterscotch Sticky Buns or Banana Splits with homemade ice cream,” I offered.

           “Ah, banana splits sound good,” said Nora, nodding her head.

           “And they are easy to make,” said Violet.

           “That is a great idea. You two are the best. I will ask my Mom if we can get all of the ingredients and make them while we are camping,” said Nora.

           The bell rang and we went back to class. The day seemed to drag along but that was because I couldn’t wait for it to be over. I wanted to go home and practice cooking since the competition was in three days.

           “Your surprise ingredients are glazed donuts and a cup of espresso,” Mom said as I walked into the kitchen after school.

           “Bread pudding with espresso whipped cream,” I replied quickly.

           “Nice choice, that sounds delicious,” Mom said. 

           “Tastes good and it’s easy to make,” I said.

           “Chocolate eclairs and rice crispy treats,” said Mom.

           “Chocolate cream pie with crispy crust and topping,” I replied.

           “The crispy crust sounds interesting. Have you tried to make that before?” Mom asked.

           I shook my head no.

           “Crispy crust it is then,” Mom decided.

           My Mom had graduated from Culinary School before I was born, and for several years she had worked as a sous chef at the fanciest hotel in town. That is where she met my Dad. He was putting himself through college working as a waiter. Now, my Mom was in charge of our school food program and my Dad worked for himself remodeling houses.

           Mom and I worked on the crispy crust until Dad got home. It was a disaster. The crust was either too mushy or too hard. We couldn’t get the right consistency to hold a cream pie filling. We had tried everything we could think of, but it just wasn’t working.

           “Why don’t you do a regular pie crust with a layer of rice crispies and then add your filling?” my Dad said when he walked in the door from work.

           My Mom and I looked at each other and laughed. Why hadn’t we thought of that? Something so simple had stumped the two of us and here we were supposed to be the experts. We tried Dad’s version of the pie and it turned out fantastic. Another winner to add to my list of ideas for the cooking competition.

           On Monday morning, my whole class surprised me by coming over to my house before I left for the TV competition. Everyone was waiting outside with signs to congratulate and cheer me on before I left. That was the best surprise ever.

           At the station, everything moved quickly. We were just about to go on the air when my Mom gave me one last quick hug.

           “You are going to do great! I believe in you. Smile big, concentrate, and pick your best options,” Mom said, adding as much last-minute encouragement as she could squeeze in.

           “I got this,” I said, faking a smile for my Mom as the cameraman started his countdown. It was a good thing she couldn’t tell I was lying.

The End.

November 17, 2020 20:07

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