Story for the Day: Parent's Day Pie
Alasdair is terrified of gaining weight. He cannot resist two things: guilt and rhubarb pie.
Parent's Day Pie
At the coming of Frewyn’s spring was Tuismhuir Siaerla, the holiday celebrating all triumphs of parents and amending all the pains of parenthood. It was a holiday rarely commemorated correctly unless forced, and those who chose to venerate their mothers and father of their own volition made the festivities tasteful and personal rather than overdone and contrived. The MacDaedes, being a family whose chief occupation it was to give and take pride in the giving rather than gratify in any receipt from the giving of others, were not a family to acknowledge this holiday: Jaicobh would protest anything being done without his compensation of it to ruin the meaning behind the day, Sheamas would demand to contribute any items with which to furnish the holiday table should one be proposed, and the commander only acknowledged the holiday for her mate’s sake who was determined to have cake to commemorate the day whether they were to truly celebrate it or not.
As there were mothers and fathers aplenty in the keep including the king himself, Alasdair made a gentle suggestions to Martje that some revelry however modest was to be supplied. He gave no details as to what should be prepared for the event but left the matter to Martje’s discretion and settled in for the evening. The morning brought a different sentiment to Alasdair who was distraught by the sight of a rather large pie adorning the kitchen table when he came to his usual breakfast place. It spanned from end to end the entirely of the table’s surface, and Alasdair must now wonder at what Martje meant by making something so indecorous to eat. She could not mean that she wished to see him gain weight, as his consumption of Martje’s sweets had done for him in the past. A buttery and flaking crust, a bubbling filling, and the mellifluous scent of cinnamon was all his indulgence. He hovered over the enormous pie, his eyes dancing with internal gaiety, his fingers gravitated toward the set forks, his mouth salivated with senseless elation. He stopped and held his fork away from the surface. He must not break the perfect dome of crust, for to break open the sealant hold in the chief of the ecstasy was to release it and force him to surrender. He would not concede. His hand dropped the fork directly and he backed away from the table in terror, questioning why Martje had dared to make his one object of weakness and why she had sought to torment him by making one so large. He agonized over its existence until the appearance of the cook. “Oh, Martje,” Alasdair stammered, forcibly composing himself. “I thought you had gone to the gate to take in the consignment of . . .” He stopped here, and his eyes darted guiltily about.
Martje chuckled at Alasdair’s apparent horror. “Aye, don’t you worry, Majesty. That’s for everyone, not just for you.”
Alasdair sighed in relief and then his eyes glittered with mild interest. “What kind is it?”
“Livanon rhubarb, Majesty.”
Martje winked. “Aye, just a wee bit. It’s Tuismhuir Siaerla, Majesty. We gotta honour parents for raisin’ us and all. Sure, and his highness Dorrin will thank you for it soon enough just as you did your good grandfather.”
“I do hope so,” he said with an earnest inflection.
“Aye, Majesty. I have no doubt of it. Never seen a one dote on his boy as you to his highness.”
Alasdair blushed and made a diffident laugh.
“That’s a good boy as I ever seen one and all good boys are reared by good fathers. Good King Dorrin was a one to teach you, aye.”
“And your father, Martje?”
“Never really knew him, he never really knew most of us except Aiden and Adaoire. Rest of us were too young to remember him when he was well. I was a babe when he got ill, and Shea, you know, wasn’t even thought of. But Ma looked after us well, and Jaicobh for a few years when we were grownin’. We owe him a lot for helpin’ us out. Least I can do is celebrate the day proper.”
Alasdair felt the pang of Tyferrim guilt rack him. It was a small infraction, but it was one ingenuously, which made him feel even more remorseful that he had thought not to take part in what had been prepared. He looked at the pleading glint in Martje’s eye and he surrendered to have a slender sliver of his favourite pie if only to honour a most devoted grandfather. He would secret away the slice before Carrigh was to come down to breakfast with him, but a different intruder to the kitchen ended all of his clandestine enjoyment.
“Honestly, Alasdair,” said the commander as she entered the kitchen.
He started and turned toward her with culpable features, his mouth slathered with warm pie filling.
“You may have a slice without my aspersions being cast upon you. I’m certain Carrigh would agree that some flesh around your waist would do well for you.”
“Aren’t you going to have any?” Alasdair muffled through a full mouth.
The commander gave the pie a chary look. “Rhubarb,” she said in disgust. “I believe you shall find yourself quite alone in your admiration for such an odd plant.”
“I cannot eat all of this.”
“I daresay you could if you allowed yourself. You could probably curl up inside of it.”
Alasdair stared at the enormity of the pie and then left his plate at the table claiming he had pressing duties to attend upstairs.
Martje and the commander laughed at Alasdair’s strictness in regimen and remarked that where he lacked opulence in weight, it was more than supplied in the taste of his clothing.
“Pie and a satisfied stomach must always give way to his jerkins,” the commander remarked to the cook. “Although both contrivances last, one does so on one’s person and the other does around one’s waist.”
“Aye, kin,” Martje giggled. “Well, you’ll just have to call your man to eat it. I don’t like feedin’ the monster, but someone’s gotta eat it.”
“Your aspirations shall be quite unfounded, Martje. Rautu, though ever an admirer of pies, is not an admirer of rhubarb.”
“It ain’t a fruit or a vegetable.”
“It looks similar to one, however, which is all his concern. He finds the taste deceptive, such a sweetness for something that would be a plant.”
“Where does he think sugar comes from?”
“The sky, I’m certain. Once he had discovered that almonds were drupes, he planned to inspect every fruit, nut, seed, vegetable, plant and capsule before eating it.”
Martje rolled her eyes and made a slight suggestion as to how the pie was to be finished.
The pie was warmed in the oven and a messenger was sent to Tyferrim with the object of retrieving everyone in their joint family who could be spared. Two hours later, Jaicobh and Calleen arrived at the keep with the promise that Aiden, Adaoire and their respective wives were not far behind them. Upon entering the keep and being conveyed to the kitchen, both Jaicobh and Calleen were surprised to see the monstrosity Martje had made.
“Whatcha gonna do with it, Bou?” said Jaicobh to his daughter.
“I shall do nothing with it. I leave the fate of this horrifying object to you.”
“Calleen and I can’t eat all that, darlin’.”
“No need to worry, father. Two hungry farmers are on their way, there is a round leatherworker and a hearty blacksmith in the armoury, and a rather large butcher still in his shoppe who would gladly offer you help in the eating of this atrocity.”
To save herself from having to inhale the scent of rhubarb any longer, the commander offered to secure her brother’s place at the table while the others in the keep were gathered. What began as a celebration determined not to be celebrated answered for being a lively gathering of family and intimate friends. Seeing all their family in Frewyn gathered in one place granted Alasdair a most favourable notion: they would have an official commemoration in the keep to honour the day in the name of every parent present and ethereal of the party.