Mrs. Turner's Pumpkin Pie
By Judy SolomonWhen I get off the school bus and there's a chocolatey smell coming from Mrs. Turner's back porch, I can tell that she's been baking. If I hop up on the bench at the bus stop, I can see whatever she's been cooking sitting on her porch rail to cool.
"Come on over, Jonathan, and have a cookie," she will call to me. Then while I'm eating cookies and drinking milk, I tell Mrs. Turner about my day at school. Sometimes she shows me a letter or a new picture and tells me about her grandchildren.
* * * * *
One day Mitch and Jo-Jo got off the school bus at my stop so we could play soccer in the field behind Mr. Marshall's store. "Hey, what's that smell?" asked Mitch.
"It smells great!" said Jo-Jo. "It's coming from over there."
Mrs. Turner had been baking again but this time it didn't smell like chocolate. The smell was more like Mom's cinnamon toast. We all walked over to Mrs. Turner's fence. Mitch and Jo-Jo went into the backyard, and Mitch climbed up on Mrs. Turner's porch. "It's a pumpkin pie," he whispered. "Let's take it!" Mitch passed the warm pie down to Jo-Jo and jumped off the porch.
"Hey, put the pie back!" I said.
"What's the matter?" asked Mitch. "Are you a chicken?"
Mitch and Jo-Jo made chicken noises. "Bawk, bawk." Mitch flapped his elbows up and down.
Could I let them call me a chicken? "Give me that pie," I said. Jo-Jo handed me the pie, and I carried it all the way to the soccer field.
When we got there, we broke the pie up in pieces and ate it. Mitch and Jo-Jo picked up the pie pan and tossed it like a Frisbee. Next, they stepped on it. Finally, they stopped and looked at me. I stepped on the pie pan, too.
After that and for the rest of the afternoon, we played soccer. Just before dark, I walked home through the woods. I didn't want to pass Mrs. Turner's house because my friends and I, we don't have time for old ladies!
That night I lay in bed with the lights off and remembered the time I got sick at school. The nurse couldn't find my mom, and Mrs. Turner came to the school and picked me up. I started thinking about the pumpkin pie and wondered whether she made that whole pie for herself. Maybe her family was coming after all and the pie was for them.
I woke up early the next morning, even though it was a teacher workday and there wasn't any school. I found Mom already up and hard at work in the kitchen. She put a platter of pancakes and bacon on the table, and I piled food on my plate.
"I'm going to visit Mrs. Turner today," I said with a full mouth.
"What was that?" asked Mom.
I swallowed. "I said, 'I'm going to visit Mrs. Turner today.'"
"That's very sweet of you. I'm afraid she's often lonely, what with her family living so far away."
"I think her family might be coming this year."
Mom smiled. "I hope so, but if they can't make it, would you invite her to eat Thanksgiving dinner with us?"
"Sure." I moved the last piece of pancake around my plate. "By the way, how do you make pumpkin pie?"
"Most of the ingredients are things we already have, like eggs and flour. The only thing we would need is some canned pumpkin," said Mom.
I ran upstairs and got the money saved from my allowance. I pushed it down in my coat pocket. I slipped downstairs and out the front door, and then I walked down the street to Mr. Marshall's store.
"Good morning," said Mr. Marshall.
"Good morning," I said. "Do you have any canned pumpkin?"
"On the day before Thanksgiving?" Mr. Marshall chuckled. "We have a whole display of canned pumpkin. It's at the end of aisle two."
I found the pumpkin and carried it to the cash register. As I felt around in my pockets for the money, I remembered the pan. "Do you have pie pans?"
"Aisle six, row three."
Mr. Marshall rang up the order and said, "That will be $4.89, please." I had to use almost all my money to pay him.
On my way to Mrs. Turner's house, I wondered what I was going to say to her. She came to the kitchen door with a smile. "Is that you, Jonathan?" she asked. "Come on in here. It's cold outside."
I told her what happened the day before.
"I was looking out the window when those boys came," said Mrs. Turner. "I saw you with them."
"I'm sorry, " I said and handed her the pumpkin and the bag with the new pie pan.
She sat the pumpkin on the counter and looked in the bag. "What happened to the old pie pan?" she asked.
"You don't want to know," I said and looked at my shoes.
"Fair enough. Will you stay and help me make a new pie?"
I stayed a long time, and we made two pies. Mrs. Turner said I could take one home for my family's Thanksgiving dinner, and I asked if she would use the second for her family and their Thanksgiving dinner. Mrs. Turner smiled a little and told me that none of her family was coming for Thanksgiving this year. She picked up the second pie and looked at it. She said, "I will probably have to freeze half of my pie."
That's when I remembered what Mom had said about inviting Mrs. Turner for Thanksgiving dinner. "Will you come and eat with us?" I asked her.
"Why, Jonathan, I'd love to!"
"You're not going to tell my parents what I did, are you?"
Mrs. Turner didn't answer for a while. Finally, she said, "I don't think that will be necessary."